Most people spent most part of their lives trying to discover their right personality by gathering as much information and experience as possible. Through all of this is the underlying assumption that our personality is innate, unchangeable and that we were born hardwired as the person we are.
“Believing you must discover your personality is a fixed mindset that stops you from taking advantage of and creating opportunities that will transform you as a person.”
The truth is though virtually everyone wants to change their personality. Despite wanting to change, many of us hold limiting beliefs that we can’t. The obsession with this fixed personality has become so ridiculous that Facebook had to ban personality quizzes on its platform. This happened after more than 87 million people had given away their personal information in exchange to answer a so-called personality test.
The myth of personality tests
According to psychologists, you shouldn’t be surprised to get different results on the same personality test at different times or even in different environments. This is because personality is far more dynamic and malleable than was previously thought. People can, should and do change. A lot.
The myth of personality
- Personality can be categorized into ‘types’
- Personality is innate and fixed
- Personality comes from your past
- Personality must be discovered
- Personality is your true and authentic self
Myth #1 Personality can be categorized into ‘types’
There’s no such thing as a personality type. WHen you allow yourself to stop defining yourself as an introvert or extrovert, you become far more open and flexible. You’re primed to do what you want to do regardless of how you see yourself.
The most scientifically backed theory of personality breaks into ‘five factors’
- Openness (how open you are to new things, experiences and perspectives)
- Conscientiousness (how organized, motivated and driven you are)
- Extroversion (how energized and connected you are)
- Agreeableness (how friendly and optimistic you are)
- Neuroticism (how well you handle stress and adversity)
None of these factors are ‘types’. In different times and situations, we tend to show up differently for better and sometimes for worse.
“There’s no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.” – Dr. Carl Jung
Myth #2 Personality is innate and fixed.
Not only does your personality change over time but it changes far more frequently than you think. The longer you wait before taking the same personality the second time, the more different the results you will see.
Regardless of the increasing evidence of personality change, we still often feel like we’re the same person. We feel like we’re being ourselves although we’re entirely different from what we were days, months or years ago.
“We make choices in life, some large and some seemingly small. Looking back, we can see a great difference in some of our choices made in our lives. We make better choices and decisions if we look at the alternatives and ponder where they will lead…”
Who you’re in the future is more important than who you are right now. Your better future self should drive your current identity and personality than your current self does.
Myth #3 Personality comes from your past.
Imagine getting a 10 percent raise. You’re thrilled. Later at lunch, you share that good news with your colleague. She informs you that she too got a raise but her raise was 15 percent. How are you feeling now?
Our past, just like our personality, does change depending on both context and content. Context is always superior to content because it determines the focus and perspective of the content. When you change the context, you almost always end up changing the content.
Myth #4 Personality must be discovered.
What do you think helped Gandhi, Mother Teresa or any famous figures left a mark on the world? Is it their personality? Or is it their decisions based on their purpose?
Purpose trump’s personality. Always. Without a deep sense of purpose, your personality defaults on pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. When you are driven by purpose, everything changes. You become highly flexible and make decisions regardless of the pain and pleasure to create and become what you want.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
Myth #5 Personality is your true and ‘authentic’ self.
“When you stay true to what you want to become, instead of staying true to your current self, you start to behave differently in a way that gets you closer to where you want to be.”
Your authentic self isn’t who you currently are. Nor it’s who you used to be. Your authentic self is the best version of you that you believe in. Being authentic is about being honest. And being honest is about facing the truth and not withholding your limiting beliefs.
Lean on the right wall.
“If the ladder matter isn’t leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place… faster.” – Dr. Stephen Covey
Andre Norman is the poster child for men who leave prison and change their lives. After spending fourteen years in prison, Andre went to Harvard and devoted his life in helping others to overcome addictions and change their lives for the better. Andre’s story demonstrates the truth of personality. Andre’s personality was shaped by his purpose. First his tempe, then being the king, then Harvard. Each purpose shaped a different Andre.
Your future self is a different person. Treat him as such.
Viewing your future self as a different person from your current self is essential for two reasons. It helps you break free of the limiting stories and put in deliberate practice. Successful people start with a vision of their future self and use it as a guiding principle for everything they do.
4 Core Levers of Personality Change
Every time you reinvent your future self and seek to achieve stretching goals, you step on these personality levers to directly control who you become.
- Identity narrative
Lever #1 Trauma
You can’t defeat your enemy if you can’t see it. You need to face your negative emotions and experience head-on. That’s the only way you can change them. Still, you can’t read the label from inside the jar. An empathetic witness or accountability partner can be a great deal of help in reframing your experience.
Lever #2 Identity narrative
Even the most terrible experience can be framed as the learning experience. A boring day at school can be framed as a powerful and positive experience.
“Everything in your past has happened ‘for’ you, not to you’”
Memory is like a telephone game. The more you pass on the story, the more the story will change. Our memories are distorted because of the prior times we tried to tell ourselves. Intentionally visit your memories when you’re safe, lighthearted and happy and with those who love you. But avoid them when you’re feeling desperate or unsafe.
Lever #3 Subconscious
We need to reframe how we see our body, and look at it as an emotional system. The information you relay throughout your brain and body are emotional in nature. That information – the emotional content – eventually becomes the body. This is the reason why overcoming addiction is so difficult. In this state of mind, addiction isn’t merely a mental disorder. It’s physical. To make powerful lasting changes in our lives, we need to change at the subconscious level.
Lever #4 Environment
Undeniably your personality is shaped by what surrounds you. It surprises psychologists if someone was interviewed twice by the same interviewer, their responses across two tests were pretty consistent. But if they were interviewed by two different interviewers, their responses were often completely different.
“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.” – Marshall Goldsmith
You’re the product of your culture and context. You are a product of the environment you’re in, the people you surround yourself with and the ideas you consume on a daily basis.
Your Current Self + Your Purpose = Your Future Self
Everything in your life has happened for you.
You’re the beneficiary.
You’ve gained much.
You’ve learned much.
Personality isn’t permanent. It’s a choice. Become purpose-driven in every moment of your life. You will arrive at your wildest and most imaginative version of yourself. When you do so, keep your poise, put your faith in and do it again. This time for something bigger and better.