What we call our nature, our personality, is a whole series of habits of thinking and feeling. For example habits of initiating, reacting or responding to others.
For many of us, our thoughts may be easy to shift but the behavioural aspect may take longer to shift. For others the opposite is true.
You CAN change your personality but there’s a vulnerable phase going from something that you know – the habit of being yourself – through this phase of not knowing, to a more stable new you. And it is a similar journey for organisations wanting to change their culture.
It’s hard to hold someone’s hand through the phase of wanting but not knowing if it will work. There are certain people who can’t handle the ‘agony’ of wanting something really badly and fearing they may not get it, so they resolve the tension by talking themselves out of wanting it. They learn to argue for their limitations. To argue for the negatives. To assume it won’t work. Then it is sensible not to want.
But it’s just a habit.
Want we want to learn is how to honour that habit and acknowledge that is going to take a while to change the ‘habit’. But if everyday I practice being a bit more hopeful, I move from having a belief that I can change, a conceptual understanding to a very embodied knowing that I have changed in the past and can change again now, or in the future.
we move from ‘I hope it’s true’, through little actions to ‘I know it’s true’.
Is it accompanied by a felt sense in the body when I am thinking that thought?
Sometimes when well acknowledged, it will reveal more about it’s fear and show you what it’s protecting you from.
As part of my intention to become a ‘maker’ more than a ‘consumer’ of information and stories, I appreciate James Clear’s advice today on How to Read Better.
The article suggests that if we want to become better readers we need firstly, to find a way to make our thoughts visible – by making notes – and then searchable. I agree that the best tool is Evernote and I am intrigued to find out more about Clippings for Kindle. I also make a note of the author and the concept, in the header section of my written journal so I can track down comments, though it’s still a manual process to flip through the pages. One day I will explore how to scan my journals.
Secondly, Clear suggests we need to connect the dots between the various ideas that we read. I do a lot of this already – asking myself “hmmm what does this remind me of?” and I can always improve by asking this question. E.g. applying my recent reading from BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits, I wonder how I can set a tiny habit to capture one idea after each article / book / podcast?
Thirdly, summarise the main idea/s in a paragraph. In Clear’s article the main ideas are to practice making your reading memorable via searchable notes and by connecting the ideas with other things you’ve written. Then look for one thing you can apply immediately, even if application is writing a summary and sending it to someone who will benefit.
And I will add a fourth – appreciation for the author – so thanks James for your article and your ongoing improvement endeavours. You are a good role model.
It’s February already. Time for a quick review: How are you doing with your New Year’s intentions?
My intention is to become more of a ‘maker’ than a consumer of information. For me this means writing book reviews – which I did and for which I won a prize from the local library – and writing more blogs.
Looking at my blog posts, I notice I haven’t posted since November, so I haven’t yet progressed with that intention. But I do have a number of posts in drafts.
One was about Tiny Habits and the great work BJ Fogg. I loved doing his Tiny Habits email program, so I re-read his article on the New Rules of Persuasion. It’s about persuasion in relation to behaviour change. His proven Behavior Model comprises three elements:
Given that I am motivated to do this, and I have the ability, the missing ingredient must be the trigger – remembering to do it. Rather than rely on memory, I know that I can set up regular reminders in my calendar.
OK. Calendar reminders – done.
But wait, Fogg has an additional distinction, which is a key breakthrough for me. He suggests that designers often assume people are more capable that we really are. To increase ability we can make the starting behavior simpler. Even though I have the ability, I often don’t have the time to write a thoughtful piece. But I can easily spend two minutes to say “just read BJ Fogg’s article and liked it because …” Or just read x and it left me wondering y”.
So my new intention for this month is to write a short ‘reaction’ blog once a week and then make time for a thoughtful piece once a month.
Today, I was asked by a colleague whether I believe that personality can be changed.
The question coincided with my explorations into how neuroscience and the theory of neuoplasticity is changing psychological theories, especially theories of personality.
To find out what the “traditional” view of personality is, I looked to the American Psychological Society. On its website it states: “Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.”
My view is that personality is a stable pattern of thinking and behaviour (built over many years of thinking and behaving in ways that reinforce the pattern) and there are some things that have a genetic basis. But the research into neuroplasticity and the Rob Kelly Thrive program have shown me that any pattern can be changed with effort, belief, skills and resources.
So yes, I do believe that personality can be changed.
Have a look at a great video clip from NLP master trainer Steve Andreas about guilt.
He gives us some really good reframing: If I’m feeling guilty about something rude I said, I can ask myself “in the moment what was more important – speaking up or being nice? If I acknowledge that I’ve chosen speaking up for myself as more important, then I must be a person who lives my values.”
So I’ve reframed the thought of violating a value in order to satisfy another value to mean I am a person who lives my values. Nice. It’s counterintuitive – an interesting benefit of guilt.
If I”m feeling really guilty about not “being nice” then that means that value is also really important to me. So a values clash can help to clarify what’s important to me. Another benefit of guilt.
Maybe I haven’t learned how to achieve both together yet, but by knowing that both values are important, I can choose to make amends, to show that I’m also ‘nice’. And using ‘intelligent regret’, I can reflect on my behaviour and choose to do something different in the future that combines both values. This gives me problem to solve rather than wallowing in embarrassment. That’s a third benefit of guilt.
In conclusion, guilt is good. Especially if you do something different as a result of it.
FOMO – the fear of missing out. Many thanks to Tim Ferriss for the perfect acronym.
I’ve just started a really amazing course and am really wanting to do another great course at the same time. In my heart I know I cannot do them both justice but I’ve been suffering from a FOMO moment – what if I never get the chance again to do the second course? I love that Tim named and crystallised the issue for me!
Choosing is really hard when there are two seemingly equally appealing opportunities, both of which I think will be really beneficial. But if I look really carefully at the FOMO, it’s really a combination of a number of fears, which I can name and then address.
There is a genuine fear of missing the opportunity to learn a new technology that is very exciting – as they may not be accrediting people next year, but I can live with that risk. There’s a fear of paying more – the price is going up quite a lot – but it’s only money, I will just have to work a bit harder to pay it off. There’s a fear of dinting my reputation for ‘keeping my word’ – I’ve said I’d like to do the course, so my friend and the person running the course may now think my word is not reliable – but that means I will need to talk to both of them and explain what’s going on. There’s also a fear of letting my friend down – we were going to buddy up, which would be helpful to both of us – so again I will need to talk with her, but I think she would understand.
Now on the flip side there must be a good acronym for the consequences of saying yes COSY or the consequences of not choosing karefully CONCK as in conking out because I cannot get it all done.
Hmmm. Love to know what you do to address FOMO and how you deal with CONCKing?
Discipline, will power and self-regulation are loaded terms at this time of year, when we are torn between letting ourselves go and enjoying ourselves or staying on the straight and narrow. Here are 8 practical and research-based tips from Tim Psychyl for strenghtening your will-power muscles so that you can have the kind of year that is both satisfying and enjoyable.
Best wishes to all for a ‘restive’ festive season.
This article by Morten T. Hansen from the HBR blog – Ten Ways to get people to change – is a great summary of ten ways to get ourselves and others to change. Enjoy the variety of options, then follow Hansen’s first point and choose just one thing to change now.
The sequencing I’ve found most useful contains six of the ten points: create an emotionally appealing image and story of the future with that new behaviour; find out the danger points – when I’m most likely to succumb to old; create a new pattern – something I will do instead; tell an advocate to whom I don’t want to say I’ve failed; make progress visible – I use a 30 day habit change chart with smiley faces for successful days; and reward myself – find a positive factor or reward for sticking with the new behaviour (in addition to the rewards of the behaviour).
In my research into sustainable leadership practices, I have come across some helpful research on “complementarity”, which may provide both an answer to the question of “why does it seem so hard for the average organisation to change?” and potential guidance for organisations who do attempt to make a change, especially a change to being a sustainable organisation.
I first came across the idea courtesy of John Roberts and the Modern Firm and am now perusing the supporting literature.
The essence of the academic idea of complementarity is that variables (in this case organisational performance variables) are complements when “doing (more of) one of them increases the returns of doing (more of) the other” (Roberts, 2004, p34).