This is, in fact, a question that baffles all three of us.
But I may have found an answer to this conundrum - I am officially a spanner.
Last time I visited the salty shores of my island brethren I stole a book from my sister called, "The Mind Gym" - subtitle, "Wake up your mind" (Time Warner Books, London, 2005 - RRP £ 12.99). I claimed at the time that I'd been reading it and had accidentally put it into my bag, a half-truth she has kindly forgotten about.
The book is classified in the Self-Development / Business category, and is packed with little reflections on How to Have Better Being a Person Skills, or something along those lines.
I plucked the dusty manual from its shelf in the library yesterday wondering if it would provide some slick fodder for my Business English wordfests, and I happened upon the chapter called, "In charge".
In it, there is the definition of the "spanner" and the "planner".
Broadly, when we have problems to face, "spanners" (so named because they are always throwing one into the works) concentrate on the problems - they fret about them without mustering the energy to do anything about them.
Planners, on the other hand, spend their time finding possible solutions and acting on them. Simple, yet elegant.
Here is an extract that was, I am now convinced, written about me personally. I reproduce it here in the hope it may fire others into taking action to free themselves from the bonds of inanity:
“Spanners worry about all the things that might go wrong which they feel they can’t do anything about, and are likely to
- Be reactive, responding to what happens, often feeling like a victim, buffeted by events rather than leading them (yup)
- Spend a lot of time worrying in ways that will drain their energy but won’t improve the situation (yes)
- Blame and accuse other people for the problems and challenges in their life (sim)
- Put off doing things for as long as possible, in the end often doing much more to achieve the same or a poorer result (I do, all the time)
- Fail to take action that would be likely to improve their circumstances (I have been in TEFL for 15 years - need I say more?).
"The person who creates and then focuses on solutions we’ll call the “planner”, because they are coming up with a plan of action to tackle these problems.
"Their focus is on all the things they can do that might have a positive influence on the situation, and they are likely to have the opposite experience to the spanner. For example they are more likely to:
- Take action proactively, doing things that will help
- Feel more in control of the situation (and their life)
- Find they have more free time to do what they want
- Be seen as leaders and/or people who are strong
"Planners work out what they can do about the situation and concentrate on doing it. As a result they are more in control of their lives and get more done.
"The idea of having a locus of control was put forward by Julian Rotter in 1966. He suggested that externally orientated individuals (the spanners) typically believe that rewards in life are controlled by forces such as fate, luck or other people. People with an internal locus of control (the planners) tend to see events being triggered by their own behavior and capability."
This is it. Nothing can stop me now.