Locus of control and information dieting.

I’ve read 2 books by Josh Kaufman, both good. One significant idea I picked up while reading he refers to as the locus of control. What this means simply is that anything outside of your control you have to realise doesn’t matter. You cannot get angry about these things, or stress over them. Sometimes this might refer to the marks at the end of university or the health of somebody close to you. In these situations you need to learn and move forward, as brutal as that sounds and as hard as that is. Day to day though it means that you chose to ignore everything around you that isn’t with your control. That includes popular news and worrying about war. These things can only impact you in a negative way, and usually for no reason. That sounds morbid and unsophisticated, but unless you want to do something about the issue, let it go.

A poignant story came up in All the Pretty Horses, where a prison officer talks about the difference between Americans and the Mexicans. In America, when somebody has their car break down the hit the steering wheel. In Mexico, the car is not evil, evil is elsewhere, so they are not angry at the car, they do not yell at it.

The idea of the locus of control and avoiding messages relates to the idea of an information diet. I cannot remember the name of the designer who first highlighted this idea to me unfortunately. But what it meant was he stopped reading the press on design, and learning new skills arbitrarily. He would seek information out when he needed it instead.

Often we feel like there’s so much to learn and do to be a great artist, a great designer. The battle is not however what we can learn in a small space of time, but what we are willing to not learn. You cannot master the Adobe suite, be a historian, a great writer, a great painter, well read, take world class photos and exceed in business. The list goes on forever. What we need to do instead is accept we will not be brilliant at everything, and work on projects, picking up skills when we need them. You do not need to know how every tool works to make brilliant work, and accepting level of pragmatism is one of the biggest challenges facing people who remain uncertain and lack confidence.