I first became aware of who Dr. Benjamin Hardy was when he was promoting his new book, Willpower Doesn’t Work. The fact that you had a chance to win Joe Polish’s Tesla if you bought a copy of the book may or may not have been part of the reason that book is now on my self. However, the Tesla isn’t in my garage. As I read more of his work on Medium and on other platforms I began to gain a real appreciation for what he does. I love how he’s willing to be controversial on a topic, and then he backs it up from personal experience.
A couple months ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast shows, The Richie Norton Show , and Richie was interviewing Benjamin and talking about his upcoming book, Personality Isn’t Permanent. It was a great interview and it made me reflect back on my own life and how I’ve seen changes in my personality over the years.
A story that he shared on the podcast, and one he also talks about in his book, was when he was dating his wife, Lauren. They spent some time with some of his old high school friends. He said, “she saw a side of me she didn’t know existed and, frankly, didn’t like.” He explained how his present and former selves were two very different people and when he was with his old friends, he shifted back “into the role, identity, behavior, and even language patterns he exhibited in high school.”
The following day I noticed that Richie had posted something on Facebook talking about the interview. By this time I had already pre-ordered my copy of the book. But I was intrigued and wanted to hear what others had thought of the interview and started to read the comments on the post. I recall one individual who only had to read the title to know he was not going to agree with Benjamin. I don’t recall the full context of his comments, but he believed that in essence, you can have changes within yourself as an individual, but your personality is permanent and remains that way throughout your life.
I’m sure that there are a number of things in his book that he will get some opposition to, and the fact that he argues that personality tests are about as scientific as horoscopes is sure to stir some emotions.
Personality Isn’t Permanent will be available on June 16. When I was given the opportunity to review it ahead of time, I jumped on it and I’m glad that I did. I’m the type of person that underlines, highlights and writes notes in the margin when I read a book. This book is a mess with all my highlights, scribbles and notes. I really enjoyed reading and absorbing this book. Though many of the things Benjamin talks about could be considered controversial, he backs them up with solid, logical evidence.
This is the first that I’m actually writing about this book, but over the past couple of weeks I have discussed it’s content and specific ideas in my podcast, Daily Success Strategies.
Who You Become Is A Choice
Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.
Daniel Gilbert, PhD
I’ve been involved in a number of leadership events where we’ve talked about personality tests. I’ve learned how they can help you to understand your team and how they can help you build a team by matching the right personalities together. But one thing always seemed to be an assumed fact. Once someone was given their results from their test. Once they were identified as Red, Square, Horse, or whatever the particular personality test used, that is what they were pegged for life.
From my own life, I know that I am a very different person than I was 20 years ago. All aspects of my life, including my personality are different.
As I read, I wasn’t wondering if our personalities could change, because I know they can. I was more curious about the possibility of intentionally making that change yourself to become the person you want to be.
With these thoughts in my mind, I reflected on a story I heard Jeff Goins tell about how he strategically defined who he wanted to be. It wasn’t more than a few pages later that Benjamin shared that exact story!
Benjamin condenses Jeff’s story here:
“When done intentionally and strategically, defining yourself as a certain “type” of person, or giving yourself a specific label, may be useful. For instance, Jeff Goins had always wanted to be a writer, but hadn’t done anything about it. Yet, when he labeled himself as a “writer,” that identification bolstered him to start writing, and, ultimately, to become a successful author.”
Create Your Future Self
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
- George Bernard Shaw
You are not “caused” by your past
- Benjamin Hardy
Benjamin emphasizes that your personality is an effect, not a cause and you primarily shape your personality by the goals that you have set for yourself. When you have set specific goals and are intentional about where you are going, he says you can become the person who you want to become.
He says that successful people start by figuring out who they want to become and use that as a filter for everything they do.
Explaining this, he uses the example of Matthew McConaughey’s hero speech when he won an Academy Award for best Actor.
When I was fifteen years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say, “Who’s your hero?” And I said… “You know who it is? It’s me in ten years.” So I turned twenty-five. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “Not even close! No, no, no.” she said, “Why?” I said, “because my hero’s me at thirty-five.” So you see, every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero’s always ten years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.
“One day, you will become your future self. The question is: Who is your future self?”
This stresses the importance of setting specific goals and intentionally working towards who you want to become. You should think, focus and act as the person you intend to become, not as who you are right now. If you are not doing this, who’s creating the future you? Are you going to leave that to chance? Leave it to your environment or what happens to you?
If you don’t have very specific and intentional goals set for yourself, start with my free Momentum Series training that will walk you through the process to get started.
Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it’s difficult to score.
Your personality can, should, and does change. It will change according to how you see yourself, how you act, and the environment you are in. You absolutely can become the person you want to be when you act intentionally and are aware of this.
“Life is a classroom. You’re here to grow. You’re here to live by faith and design. You’re here. You’re here to choose. The choice is yours. Who will you be?”
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Originally published at https://jeffheggie.com on June 9, 2020.