What Causes What?
Many kids didn’t like science growing up because it was too hard. There were reports to write up and measurements to make. It could seem overwhelming. I enjoyed this part of science. The part that I did not enjoy was its apparent disconnect from reality. It felt unreal to me.
I observed that we would complete experiments under controlled conditions. We followed a prescriptive approach. Everything needed to be precise. A deficit of 1 milliliter mixed into a substance would fail to elicit the appropriate reaction and our results were deemed a failure.
Reality did not seem to conform to these rules. Reality was so much more random to me. It was difficult to understand.
- You could behave in class but still get in trouble because your friend was talking.
- You could drive on the road carefully and be struck by another vehicle that is being driven carelessly.
- You could make plans for a long and beautiful life and fall violently ill.
It’s hard to make sense of what causes what.
I think that the concept of Locus of Control can help here.
The concept relates to what you believe is responsible for the events that occur around you.
If you have a largely Internal Locus of Control you believe that you are responsible for the results you see in your life. You believe that your actions cause the events in your life and thus always take responsibility for negative and positive outcomes. You believe that the only thing standing between you and your goal is your level of effort and commitment.
A person with a largely External Locus of Control on the other hand believes that they are not ultimately responsible for what happens to them. Fate and randomness play a much greater role in determining what outcomes appear in their life. If they get a promotion even though they worked hard, they put it down to good luck or timing. When negative events occur there is an external source to blame.
So what causes what?
I’m not really sure.
But I do know which mental model is more helpful in building a satisfying life.
By choosing to adopt an internal Locus of Control you are putting the power of your life back into your hands. I warn you that it might suck a little at first because there will be no one to blame except for yourself if things don’t go well.
On a positive note if you focus on your actions and believe that they are the difference makers, you are more likely to consider ways to change your behaviour and create better results in the future.
You can take the test here to determine your Locus of Control: Locus of Control Test