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This week I caught up with old friends, Dr. Benjamin Hardy, an organizational psychologist whose latest book »Personality is not permanent“Will appear in June.
Young Hardy is a man of thirty and a father of five. He and his wife Lauren have adopted three children (with great difficulty) from the foster care system and also have year-old twins. Very poorly executed as a scientist, speaker, organizational psychologist and author, but surprisingly restrained in conversation.
Five years ago, he was interested in exchanges on a number of topics: habits, self-discipline, communication – and more recently – personality.
Unlike traditional experts, Hardy argues that our identities are not recorded. He argues and demonstrates through research that our lifestyles, attachments, attitudes, and character traits are surprisingly difficult. At each stage, our personalities are the result of decision-making and basic experience, as well as the non-decision-making and habits we accumulate along the way.
Facial tests are wrong
We ask, “Are you ‘red’ or ‘white’?” or, “Are you INFJ or ESTP?” Hardy points to a recently published study of 1,208 fourteen-year-old children in Scotland. Teachers in the 1950s classified these students by six characteristics: self-confidence, perseverance, mood stability, integrity, originality, and a desire to learn. Sixty-three years later, researchers tested 674 original participants. Each person, who has already turned 70, called himself six traits and appointed a relative, close friend or relative to evaluate them. Results: It was almost no overlap.
According to Harvard psychologist Dr. Daniel Gilbert even over a decade, you are not the same person. In his own study, Gilbert asked people how much their interests, goals, and values have changed over the past decade. Respondents reported significant changes. He then asked how much they expect their interests, goals and values to change over the next decade. Most expected small changes.
Gilbert’s observation: “People work in a process that they mistakenly consider finished.” That’s the problem, Hardy argues.
How is it assumed that your personality is constantly holding you back?
The myth holds you back in two ways:
- You are held back by your propensity to judge others based on their past. When we meet someone thinking about how to hire or, for example, a partnership, what do we do? Usually we ask questions about their past experiences, reviewing their results and asking the opinions of others who have worked with the person before. Like Shakespeare’s quote, we think, “The prologue is over.” We suggest that their previous behavior indicates where their weaknesses may go again. Of course, past actions are data points and perhaps very important. But did we think we would test and evaluate a person for the current attitude or for hypothetical solutions they were going to go forward? If you ask about past experiences, for example, ask what they did and why in one of their most difficult situations, and what would they do now if they had the opportunity to do it again? Listen to their views, the rigidity of their opinions, and the thought or feeling process that governs their decisions today. When assessing, check emotional maturity and “equalizer” to determine a person’s flexibility and willingness to learn and improve, or is likely to be tainted by previous habits and egos.
- You are held back by the assumption that you are unlikely to change. Many years ago, advisors told my previous business partner that it was extremely difficult to work with and intimidate employees. His response was a shrug. “In the 1940s, it’s likely to change.” I knew the current forecast as it was about 25 years ago. But for many years after my departure, the company he led, although met with some success, continued to concentrate around what I privately observed as a “set of symbiotic relationships”.
As the outsider was no longer stressed, part of me was encouraged, as success seems to confirm that companies had to follow a single model or specific formula to succeed. But with a desire to improve or a flexible attitude towards positive change, what could be possible?
If we assume that we cannot change this or are likely to do so, we almost guarantee that traumatic events (such as loss of health or imminent death) are prohibited. Will not change or change the change significantly. Unfortunately, this also means that negative addictions and behaviors, which tend to prevail over our existence, remain largely the same.
You can change any habit or addiction in an instant
Hardy talks at length about the principle of dependence, as it is a giant component of the material he teaches. I also learned this principle by listening intently to Tony Robbins ’conversations. Robbins argues that there must be three conditions for a successful cessation of a strong addiction:
- An ardent desire to stop the addiction.
- A traumatic or basic experience that signals to you should to change. It could be something like a young daughter complaining that her father’s smoking addiction means she won’t be alive to walk down the aisle at her wedding, or a doctor informing a heart attack victim that she won’t survive without diet and exercise. habits can change.
- The ability to replace a less unfavorable habitat with one you are trying to break.
I tested this theory and proved it true. For over two decades I have had a dietary addiction to coke, so it has become a constant topic of joke among people who know me. At peak times I couldn’t work without six bottles a day. I made a valiant effort to quit my job, and even did it for six whole months once, until a particularly bad stressor pushed me off the truck again.
Later in life – much later – I realized how often I get sick on planes, sleep deprivation and finding children with colds. So I took herbal supplements. A friend who gave me the supplement warned that the drops can sometimes cause a detoxification reaction in people who are already a little older, who have been drinking or who are malnourished. Since none of this is up to me, I thought it was good.
A week later in Phoenix, to convey my primary address, I woke up in a hotel covered in rashes. It felt itchy and terribly covered my scalp. I immediately realized that this was due to the massive load of chemical toxins in diet coke, as I actually ate pretty well. But the craving rash made me suddenly reject the thought of ever doing something so clearly harmful to my health and body again.
This happened three years ago, on April 26, 2017. I replaced the place with a few bottles of tea mushroom a day and never again touch a glass of baking soda or an artificial sweetener.
Who will you be tomorrow? Today has to decide
Hardy notes that each of us has the ability to change long-held beliefs and character traits consistently, and for the most part – at will. For example, she tells in her book about a 13-year-old girl who was deeply composed by a teacher who assured her students that they could do and be anything if they had a strong desire to grow and change.
She took the words to heart, thinking of her agonizing shyness and restraint to talk or meet someone new. So she consciously struggled with the trend from that moment forward. She spoke and from that moment actively forced herself to be more conspicuous and vocal. By the time she graduated from high school, she had a completely different personality of her own volition and design.
Hardy himself, having received his doctorate, five children, two books and hundreds of thousands of followers notes that his wife almost sent him for packing based on his previous estimates. The eldest son of divorced parents, he spent most of his youth and infancy to meet. He had no goals and ambitions and missed so many classes in high school that he had to plant a tree on the school property to get a diploma. But the two-year church mission became a major experience for Hardy and put him on a course of discipline and purpose that influenced his path and achievement.
In my personal case, the bad experience around the personality test contributed to my decision to leave the first firm I founded. It was the mid-1980s, and the Myers-Briggs test recently went into vogue. The second founder and I (the one who has such a tough face) are holding their heads tight, and our sales director offered to take the test. My result: ENFJ, “E” (for Extrovert) only the width of the hair from “I (for Introvert)”. Its result: ESTP. On paper we were polar opposites.
“No, it remains correct,” he said, questioning my results. The rule of fantasy? Dreamer? Head in the clouds? Not bad you. Take it again. In fact, make sure no one like it ever enters our business. ”
I was stunned. The desire and need for innovation really was me, 100 percent. But it seemed clear that these abilities would never be appreciated in the place where I was sitting, and potentially not even allowed. I tried to go further, but for two years the burnout was unbearable and I made the difficult choice to move on.
Since then they have been co-founders and now founders of three businesses. I regularly innovate and find my strengths in developing new solutions, sometimes even on the go and in the middle of a thunderstorm. I still work long hours, but find much greater fulfillment because I have the freedom to develop on my own. Leaving my first company was unfeasible. But now for me a lot of things when I and those around me, found opportunities to develop new forces.
Hardy emphasizes the danger in taking personality tests too seriously. When evaluating our trends, he advises giving more credibility to programs like Enneagram, which identifies trends in a range of characteristics rather than color or four letters (although in the last column for psychology today he suggested doing nothing).
I recently took the Myers-Briggs test. I was curious and I believed that progress had made tremendous progress in the 25 years since the fateful testing. My rating today: INFJ. The only noticeable difference in my assessment from 25 years ago was that trends towards introverts were taken into account less became predominant especially.
By many measures it is now established as a leader in business. Regardless of the assessment, I can attest that my head then and now continues to cling to the clouds, ever inventive. All these years later, the script that scared me so much gave me a different conclusion: if I hadn’t gone any further, I imagine everything I honestly would have missed. As I remember this fateful experience, my insurmountable feeling is not fear. This is gratitude.
Hopefully more decades of additional business solutions are ahead. Yes, your personality will change in the ways you choose and allow. So what do you choose?