2011 was significant for *Tina for more than one reason. Her children entered their turbulent teenage years, and she found herself in a predicament that had started to affect her life. Her marriage was deteriorating, and the more she became anxious about it, the more it affected her emotional state.
One day, to her horror, she found herself waking up from sleep and getting into a state of panic, thinking about her marital relationship with her spouse. She realised that her stress and reached a point that she needed to handle the matter now or it would be catastrophic for her physical and mental health. Through a resilient attitude and focus on the issue she faced, she sought solutions that would solve the matter that had been causing distress and anger in her.
A few years later, after that incident, when I met her, I was amazed to see the transformation. From the nervous and introverted lady that she had been, Tina had emerged into a confident and sociable person. I knew that she would have crossed considerable hurdles to enjoy the harmony and contentment she was in. The crux of the matter was that she had, with triumph. Strangely, it is interesting to note that it is through the most challenging periods in life that we learn our biggest lessons. Tina is one of the numerous individuals whom I know, who has emerged victoriously from the hardships in their life. Individuals like Tina have been prudent regarding their locus of control in their life.
What is “Locus of Control”? How does this principle help us become resilient?
3) Developing “Locus of Control”
The relationship between our level of resilience is dependent to an extent on our locus of control. It was an American psychologist, Julian B. Rotter, who developed the principle of “Locus of Control”. This principle highlighted our belief that the power of the outcome of our actions lies with us (internal) or is based on other environmental factors, including other individuals (external). While we may consider that from the two, the “Internal Locus of Control” is ideal, it is still prudent to consider the merits and demerits of both.
Those who believe in the “Internal Locus of Control” generally enjoy the benefits of independent thinking – they are less influenced, work with focus, sharp regarding their improvement, conscious of their errors in judgement and generally successful. On the hindsight, these individuals suffer from being controlling and find it sometimes challenging to work in teams or be accepted by their team members.
The followers of the “External Locus of Control” unfortunately have fewer advantages other than being excellent team members and being better aware of handling the stress in their personal and professional life. Unfortunately, their tendency to blame on external reasons for their failure often leads them to the experience of victimisation. Since they consider challenges as beyond their control, they seldom have the drive to overcome the hardships and hence give up. Luck is one of the factors that determine in their success or failure, so little responsibility for either is acknowledged.
As a leader, it will be more empowering to follow the best of both the Internal and the External Locus of Control principles. While obviously, the Internal Locus of Control has more benefits, the importance of being a positive team player and the ability to delegate effectively cannot be ignored. Every day we come across individuals in our personal and professional life who communicate to us their belief in their actions. Those with an internal locus indeed are those more likely to be more resilient and bold when it comes to facing challenges.
In the case of Tina, had she considered her life as a journey that is dependent on the luck or her fate (External Locus of Control), she may have continued to remain in the dire state of life she was in. Fortunately, the Internal Locus of Control that she possessed enabled her to overcome her problems and continue with her life boldly and purposefully.
4) The Benefits of Communication Skills
If we are to consider an example from classic literature, Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” is an excellent example of how practical communication skills saw a transformation of Elisa Dolittle into a “consort battleship” (to quote Professor Higgins). With communication skills, an individual undeniably experiences an emergence of positive changes in thinking, behaviour and even grooming. This transformation invariably affects our ability to face challenges and resilience to unpredictable circumstances. Communication as a process seeks to ensure that the matter being conveyed is understood by the listener as much as the speaker. The resulting transparency is where the importance of effective communication in contributing to our resilience comes into the picture.
Being a Toastmaster is a powerful and useful tool for improving our communication and leadership skills. As a non-profit educational organisation, that was established in the U.S in 1924; Toastmasters International has helped a significant number of individuals to attain success in their personal and professional lives. As a member of Toastmasters, for more than fifteen years, I have not just benefitted from this empowering program, but got the privilege to meet, learn and know many beautiful people. Some of whom became my good friends. For more information regarding Toastmasters International, please view the link – www.toastmasters.org.
Talking of the importance of effective communication and resilience, I always think of an incident in high school. Years ago, in high school, at the start of eleventh grade, we had a student who enrolled after the first term. A capable and sincere learner, coming from a state curriculum school, she found the new school environment challenging. The medium of communication and learning was English while in her previous school it had been her mother tongue. She struggled many a time to be understood by her classmates and teachers. With tremendous perseverance, my classmate worked on her spoken and written English and in due course of a year, along with her confidence, her resilience grew. It grew to such a level that when the final year results of grade twelve were announced, she was one of the toppers of the class. At the end of grade twelve, she was also an excellent communicator – being able to converse in English fluently.
The difficulty in communication can lead to lack of confidence, self-esteem and negative thinking. After all, communication skills enable us to avoid pitfalls and misunderstandings too in our quest to achieve goals and enjoy harmonious personal and professional relationships. It’s been more than thirty years since I have met that phenomenal classmate. Still, my recollection of the admiration for her resilience and belief is a testimony to the fact that resilient people are inspiring and fearless to the core. Besides, it is also a reminder to us that, in our tendency to look at the famous legends of humanity for inspiration, we overlook exemplary courageous individuals around us who deserve our applause and appreciation.
The above artwork “Blossoms”, focuses on the concept of “making lemonade out of lemons”. When you find a black background to draw or paint, make all your efforts to make it in a colour that will stand out and enhance the artwork – never mind the fact that you may not be able to use all the colours you love to paint with. On a deeper level, it is a reflection of our gratitude for what we enjoy, that many are tragically deprived of. In life, we may not always get everything we desire but making efforts to improve the situation and making the best of what we have, are keys to making the best out of our life.
*Name changed to protect privacy.