Agency

August 17, 2020

I have recently read a lot about Josh Waitzkin. His thoughts on the locus of control strike especially powerful.

Here’s Josh Waitzkin on the locus of control.

Waitzkin argues that we internalise an external locus of control in our childhood. The first way is our parent’s language around the weather:

*“It’s bad weather. We can’t go outside!” vs. It’s good weather. We can go outside!”

We’re externally reliant on conditions being perfect in order to be able to go out and have a good time.”*

Josh flips this on its head. He insists he and his young son never miss a single storm, rain, or snow. They always go outside and have fun together.

His son now says to him: Look Dad, it’s such a beautiful rainy day”. Contrast this with the misery that sits in most households when it’s grey, wet and cold outside.

Josh uses the weather as a tool to teach his son about having an internal locus of control.

During Waitzkin’s martial arts career, he used to seek out the dirtiest training partners. If they weren’t dirty, he would actively encourage them to eye gouge and go for his groin. He wanted to be prepared to keep his composure in the worst possible conditions.

This insight can be transformative in our own belief about what we can achieve in life and what’s standing in the way. It reminds us to question to believed limits of our agency over the world we live in. Josh talks more about the idea and it’s application in his book The Art of Learning. Well worth reading.