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Reflections of 2011: Internal Locus of Control

Written by: Craig Twombly
Published: December 2011

As the year comes to an end, it often leaves many people looking back at the last year in reflection. Many people will use the opportunity to look at the success they had during the year. It also leaves people looking at what they had not done but wished they had. As a business consultant my goal is to help maximize the potential of the employee and the leadership base. This past year has brought many successes and struggles on a professional and personal level for me.

As last year came to an end I wrote about the value to setting attainable goals for the New Year. We all live in a very fast-paced professional and personal life. As the economy sputtered and struggled to move forward many people have found themselves scratching their heads as they tried to make it all come together. As I reflect back to 2011 it got me thinking about last year’s goals that I had set. One of the goals I had put in place was to grow the business and bring in clients that we had not yet had the privilege of working with. So as I reflect at my goals I look at what I did and did not accomplish.

I must say I did have the privilege of working with organizations in Florida, Texas, Virginia and Maine. It was not only fun to travel and get the opportunity to work with these folks, it was also a moving experience. Over this year I have had the opportunity to listen to stories and also listen to the success that many people have had. In Florida I sat down and had lunch with an owner of a very successful organization and during the course of the conversation I asked the question, "Why have you been so successful in such a difficult time?" I thought I would be inspired by some customer service story or a story of being financially wise. The answer I received was neither of those. The owner looked at me and simply stated, “Failure is not an option”. As we ended the work together in February I flew home to Maine and went on with business as usual.

Rotter in 1954 wrote of and suggested a description and definition often referred to as "Locus of Control" and the definition descripts the two different thoughts of the control people feel they have to destiny or more simply put the control of where their life goes. There are two different thoughts people feel they have over destiny and direction of their lives. The two different thoughts are one of an Internal Locus of Control and one of an External Locus of Control. Those who feel there is an External Locus of Control feel that they cannot predict control or can prevent the events that surround them or influence their lives. Those who feel there is an Internal Locus of Control feel they can control the events that surround them. Most people might find themselves scratching their heads and thinking, "So what?"

On a Wednesday in June of this past year, I was sitting at the office preparing for a workshop and quiet honestly just cruising along with the day month and year. I received an email from my mother stating she would like me to come to her house the coming Saturday and she wanted to talk to me, my brother, my aunts, and my uncles. The email was fairly matter of fact and short (as an email of this sort is not like her) and I found myself quiet concerned. Within a few minutes my brother had called from Pennsylvania where he lived with the same concerns. After a long conversation with my brother, I was chosen to be the one to call my mother so that we could ease our stress. My mother answered the call on the first ring and tried hard to convince me there was nothing to worry about. After a few minutes on the phone my mother began to cry and it all came out. The next ten minutes on the phone are a blur as to all I heard was "Cancer". At this brief moment in time my entire life came screeching to a halt. After I gained my composure, I asked the question, “How bad is it?” She tried hard to reassure me and once again all I

heard was, "It is not good." I quickly felt like the world was closing in on me. I long ago realized that my parents were people and not super heroes as I thought as a child. In the years since my teens I have built a relationship of friendship with my parents and now the thought of mortality was crippling in.

Since the early days of June, I have watched my mother become a superhero in the way she has handled the challenges in front of her. As she entered Chemotherapy she became violently ill and depressed. Although she was sick, she kept a positive attitude and talked of the enjoyment of not having to shave her arm pits for the first time in 40-plus years. She joked as she always wondered how it felt to lose your hair. I watched her struggle but stay in control of not only her emotions but the comfort she has given to her children who are both now grown men with children. It is amazing how I once looked at my mom as a superhero. My mother has proven the value of holding a high level of Internal Control. She has accepted what is in front of her but continues to do it on her terms and in her way. Since those early moments, I no longer watch how she is doing with pity, because she has decided that she will control what happens from this point forward and will not give up. During one day of sickness, I found myself in tears as she struggled to hold it together after Chemotherapy. I told her I was sorry and she looked at me and asked why. She said, "I won"t let it beat me.

During this same period of time Lorraine one of the owners of Priority Learning packed up her car and drove to Florida to care for her ailing father. Over the next several months, she spent time caring for her dad and was with him to the very end. She knew the fate ahead but took it straight on and gave many people around her inspiration as to how to do it best way possible.

internal Locus of control

Both my Mother and Lorraine have demonstrated Internal Control. Lorraine and my mother both decided they would not sit back and let life pass them as if they were a passenger on a train. Although the year has brought many successes and struggles in my life, I look in awe at the people around me and I have decided what these two individuals have taught me and that is to not sit in the passenger seat. My goal for this coming year will be to continue to push and work on focusing on creating and maintaining an Internal Locus of Control. Thank You!

Craig Twombly

Craig Twombly

Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.