Dr. Benjamin Hardy On Why Our Personality Really Isn’t Permanent
I am really excited about today's episode, where we are joined by Dr. Benjamin Hardy, who has become one of my closer friends and professional contacts. If you listen to the show, or anything that I do, you've heard me quote Dr. Hardy significantly over the past few years, since his work has become a massive influence on my life and the lives of those I care about.
In this episode, we are going to talk about his new book: Personality Isn't Permanent. Throughout the episode, we talk about how much of that we think about personality is actually wrong. We learn how personality is actually formed, and how you can take an active role in designing the personality that you wish to have.
Pretty exciting stuff, and I really enjoyed the episode – I'm sure you will as well. I would also consider it a personal favor if you went and bought a copy of Personality Isn't Permanent!
Enjoy the episode!
In this episode, we discuss:
- Who is Dr. Benjamin Hardy, what does he do, and how did he get to writing Personality Isn't Permanent? [4:00]
- Dr. Hardy's experience with trauma [7:30]
- What does “personality isn't permanent” mean? [13:40]
- How does our personality really work? [17:20]
- How does the concept of the non-permanent personality translate into action? [21:50]
- Being extremely honest with who you want to be [30:00]
- What are some other big takeaways from the book about designing your personality? [32:45]
- How often does Dr. Hardy adjust in his own life? [38:35]
- What about personality tests? [42:10]
- Where can you learn more about Personality Isn't Permanent? [49:35]
- Dr. Benjamin Hardy's final takeaway message [51:10]
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Personality Isn't Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story by Benjamin P. Hardy
- Our previous episode with Dr. Benjamin Hardy
- Willpower Doesn't Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success by Benjamin Hardy
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
- Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self | TED Talk
- Kolbe Index
- Mindfulness by Ellen Langer
- Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen Langer
- Myers Briggs Personality Test
- Dr. Benjamin Hardy's website
Favorite Quotes from Dr. Benjamin Hardy:
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Greetings, SuperFriends! And welcome, welcome to this week's episode of the SuperHuman Academy Podcast!
I am really excited about today's episode because it was an opportunity for me to hang out with a dear, dear friend, a past podcast guest who has become one of my closer friends and professional contacts, and that friend is of course, Dr. Benjamin Hardy. If you’ve listen to the show, or anything that I do, you've heard me quote Dr. Hardy significantly throughout the past few years, because his work has become a massive influence on my life and the lives of those I care about.
And in this episode, we are going to talk about his new book, a book titled: Personality Isn't Permanent. With a title like that, how can you not be interested to hear more? Now, throughout the episode, we talk about how so much of what people know or think about their personality is patently wrong. We learn how personality is actually formed, and how you can take an active role in designing the personality that you wish to have.
Pretty exciting stuff, I really enjoyed the episode. I know you are going to enjoy it as well. And I would also consider it a personal favor if you would go out today and pick up a copy of Dr. Hardy’s book, whether that is online or otherwise. We will give you a link in the show notes at SuperHumanAcademy.com/Podcast. If you want to support us in buying the book. But I think this is going to be a massive game changer of a book. I’m very excited to read it. I had to hold off on reading it because I wanted to have a beginner's mind for all of you, but one of the first things I'm going to do once I get off the microphone is to get started reading it.
So without any further ado, my dear friend, Dr. Benjamin Hardy…
Dr. Benjamin Hardy, how are you, my friend? And congratulations, once again, on the finishing of the PhD! How are you doing?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Doing awesome, man. Really glad to be with you. Likewise having another day.
Jonathan Levi: Likewise,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: we were supposed to be
Jonathan Levi: hanging out a lot this year at various different events. And unfortunately, uh, it looks like we're going to have to settle for virtual Hangouts
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: for now.
Yeah. Who knows when the next time we're gonna be together is hopefully sometime before November. Right?
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, I hope so. I hope so, man. So for those who are uninitiated and haven't heard you on the podcast,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I think they've heard about you because I find
Jonathan Levi: myself talking about you and your work. Like constantly people must think I'm the biggest
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: fan boy of yours.
Jonathan Levi: Cause I'm always quoting you. And I'm always talking about forcing functions and I'm always talking about signaling and all this other amazing stuff that I have learned
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: from you,
Jonathan Levi: but that's actually not what we're talking about today.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Uh, we want to talk about.
Jonathan Levi: Personality and this amazing new book that you've been working on.
Tell me about the journey of writing this book.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I mean,
Jonathan Levi: after willpower doesn't work, what, what made you think this is? What the book that I want to write next personality. Isn't permanent.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Um, so willpower came out in March of 2018 and I didn't actually know what the next book I was going to write when that happened.
Like a couple of months went by. I was obviously thinking, thinking about it. My agent was asking me like, what book are you going to do next? And, um, there was a lot of things that ultimately led me to writing this book. It was, it was definitely not the book on mind. Um, willpower doesn't work is a lot more behavioral focus, whereas personalities and permanent, obviously a lot under the surface.
And so. Yeah, there was a few things that led to it. One of the, one of the things was obviously throughout my PhD in organizational psychology, there's a concept called psychometrics, which is essentially the study and development of tests. And. This isn't what led me to it, but it ultimately ended up becoming a part of the book, which was learning about just how most personality tests, almost, almost all of them are just total garbage science, such as Myers-Briggs Enneagram.
Like all of them are very non-scientific and we can go into why. Um, but they're also not only, non-scientific, they're really bad for psych like a person's mental health, uh, as far as their goal setting their imagination and things like that. So that was interesting in that ultimately it was like that came in handy, but really I was reading the book.
The body keeps the score. So like our, our shared friend, Joe Polish was, and I've I've, you know, a lot of willpower doesn't work was about addiction. And so he recommended, I read that book. The body keeps the score, even though it's not really about addiction, it's about trauma, but one of the things, there was two things in that book.
That ultimately led me to writing personality. Isn't permanent. One was that he talks about how trauma freezes personality, and it keeps you stuck in the past and it stops your emotional development. So I thought that was okay. That was weird. Or that was really interesting that a trauma stopped someone in the past stops her development and then their, basically their personality becomes a coping mechanism to their trauma and they become repetitive and live in cycles.
So that, that was interesting. Then the other thing that Bessel talked about in the book. Was that trauma, shatters confidence and imagination and flexibility. And those are all incredibly important things for learning as you know, as the learning master and so trauma. So trauma stops you from learning and it stops you from imagining different variations of your future self, or even your former self or taking new perspectives.
It leads you to being incredibly rigid and dogmatic in your views of the world and of yourself and even of the past. And so I just thought, okay, like this is an interesting topic. And, um, I, I still ultimately went down the rabbit hole. Right, right.
Jonathan Levi: And I know this book, you spent years on this. I want to ask you, this is a rare interview where I actually know the guests better on a personal level, uh, than, than I do on a professional level because
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: you and I have been friends for years now.
Jonathan Levi: talk to me a little bit about. Your interest in trauma. I don't know how much you talk about this publicly or don't talk
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: about it so
Jonathan Levi: we can go as deep as you want or,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: or don't want to. But talk to me a little bit about your experience with trauma and, and why
Jonathan Levi: that rang a bell with you.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. I mean, trauma is a subject that kept coming up more and more over the last few years.
And it's something I obviously knew about, but didn't think that much about honestly until the last couple of years, but obviously. In thinking about it. I realized that I myself have gone through huge trauma, as I'm sure most listeners on this show are. And even you like, we've, everyone's gone through some degree of trauma.
Um, yeah, like, like even in the book I talk about math trauma, which is pervasive. Like most people don't believe they, and again, you, as a learning master, you know, can understand this, but most people don't think that they can learn math and they get to some stage where they just don't think they can get good at it.
And. And there's a lot of research. If you look this up, it's really interesting, but on mass trauma and about how at some point or another, someone has a, an experience, whether they fail a test, someone says they're not good at it. Something happens. They hit a glass ceiling and they, they well, so there's two, two levels of emotion, you know, and I'll go into my story in a second, but I want to give some frame.
Um, basically the idea is there's two, two levels of emotion. One is your primary emotion. Two is your secondary emotion. And usually with trauma, it stops at the primary, which is your initial reaction. So like if someone has a bad experience with math, basically they then internalize what's called a cognitive commitment and that cognitive commitment to a story that becomes their identity.
Ultimately it's a fixed mindset. So like they have a bad experience. They internalize it. They don't reframe it. And then they have this narrative where they they're no longer good at math, therefore their imagination and their flexibility are shattered when it comes to math. So they can't learn anymore and they just avoid it.
Um, so like, that's, that's super key to understand that like trauma shapes, narrative, um, and it shaped, right. It's
Jonathan Levi: a lot of kind of growth mindset and, and limiting mindset. Like what,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: what causes you to have that mindset? Is these traumatic
Jonathan Levi: events?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Well, non reframed traumatic events. So like Peter Levine, he wrote the book.
Uh, w waking the tiger healing trauma. And he said, basically, trauma. Isn't what happens to you? It's what you hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness. So it's, it's not what happens to you. It's what you hold inside in the absence of an Epic, empathetic witness. And the empathetic witness would obviously be like a friend, a coach, someone to help encourage you and to reframe the situation.
So, anyways, with that said a little bit about myself, you know, so when I was 11 years old, My parents divorced, which was obviously traumatic for anyone. I was the oldest of three, but the subsequent events were that my father became a heavy drug addict, extreme drug addict, and kind of was all through my junior high and high school years.
It got to the point where it was just so rough that we had to leave. Like we just couldn't be in that environment anymore. So tough. And there's two, two kinds of explanations of trauma. One's capital T trauma, which is where something occurs. I mean, it could again be just someone telling you you're not good at math and you internalize it, or it could be something way worse, you know, like you get physically or sexually abused or something.
But capital T trauma is an event that leads to a shaping of your identity and then obviously a very narrowing of your future. But the lower T trauma is more just being in a chaotic environment where you're just always in like a survival state. So that was kind of me for a long time. And ultimately when you go through these experiences, you have to create meaning to explain what's going on.
And so for me, the meaning was. You know, my father is the problem or he's he's causing these problems. Like when you're, when you're viewing it from that perspective, you're always the victim to whatever's occurring. Um, right. And so, yeah, I mean, I I've gone through that and obviously other things, but learned obviously how to change it, how to work through it, how to change the meaning of it.
It's really important to understand. And, and, and, uh, again, I just love your perspectives. Cause learning is such a crucial element of all this, but memory is flexible, you know, like your memory. Can must and should change. Um, and it's important to realize like, so Stephen Covey, I think said it best. He said, we don't see the world as it is, but as we are, but that same quote is true about your past.
You don't see the past as it is, but as you are. And so your memories can change, your story can change. You've got to, recontextualize the meaning of it. And that's something that I've learned how to do over and over again. And so, you know, my relationship with my dad, my story of it, my ex, my explanation of my past has evolved dramatically over time.
Jonathan Levi: in the context
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: of reframing,
Jonathan Levi: do you think reframing
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: recontextualizing
Jonathan Levi: reprocessing
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: that experience,
Jonathan Levi: and this might be a beautiful example. This might not be, do you think that's what has driven you to not only get your PhD in psychology, but to be one of the
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: world's most prolific writers right now
Jonathan Levi: on the topic of psychology, do you think that's what puts you into this
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: passion of yours?
I think that it's, it's, it's the events that led to the events that led me to being interested in psychology. Like it wasn't, you know, I, I wasn't thinking I want to be a psychologist when I was like in high school, for sure. It wasn't even, like, I was just way too interested in like world of Warcraft and stuff like that, but like, Because the trauma and just the, the, the shattering of just expectations and things like that was so big for me.
When I then went on like a mission experience, which I did at age 20 and, and really went through a deep dive, into psychology spirituality and just learning and just, I really changed a lot on that experience. I think that my, my, my transformation was so big because of. Of the level of trauma that I went through, that that's really what surprised me and got me interested in mostly just interested in change and interested in how people can transform.
And, and so that's what led me to psychology. I think that my background, or my past kind of created this soil, I guess you could say it led to big changing experiences and I was way more receptive to those experiences. So I was like, so like when I would read a good book or when I'd have an experience, I think it was, I was a little bit more heightened to it just because of the level of trauma.
That makes sense.
Jonathan Levi: That makes a ton of sense. So taking us forward to this,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: this book that you've written, and
Jonathan Levi: I've been like resisting the temptation to read it because by just judging by the sheer quantity, with which I quote from willpower doesn't work, I know this is going to become one of the books that I come back to again and again and again.
Uh, but I wanted to have this beginner's mind. Talk to me about that.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: You always choose wonderful titles
Jonathan Levi: and the titles always wonderfully described. So talk to me about this concept, that personality isn't permanent. W what does that mean? I think I've experienced that in my life as well, but talk to me about the, the seed of that
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: idea.
Yeah. Um, well, It took diving into the research to kind of explain the idea, but I just liked the title kind of knowing that personality is supposed to change. It's not, you know, I didn't, I didn't actually, I actually dug further into the research after I already had the title, but kind of knowing that trauma traps personality as just one of the steps, um, you know, led me to titling the book and it was kind of a good riff off of willpower doesn't work.
Um, But as far as what it means, I mean, there's so much there. I'll, I'll start by kind of explaining kind of the on scientific, but also just incorrect and limiting perspectives of psycho of personality. And then I'll explain kind of some of the science kind of proving that it changes. And then, you know, I think you're going to dig some of the different perspectives on, on why it's important to not view your current self as such a stable force, but.
The kind of most, so there's two big ideas in, in psychology to kind of give this some framing. The first one is that like one of the core ideas and psychologists is that the greatest way to predict a person's future behavior is just by looking at their past behavior. Um, and. Yeah, no, that makes sense.
And obviously, if you're someone who wants to make changes, you would hope that that's not fully true of you. Um, but that's kind of just like the general perspective that if you want to know how a person's going to act in the future, just look at how they've acted in the past. And then tied to that idea is that personality, as a concept is generally viewed as someone's consistent, like attitudes or behaviors, or just way of doing things.
It's just, someone's consistent way of acting. Um, those are kind of some good definitions and I kind of want to understand why. That's true. Why is why is a person's past the biggest predictor of their future and the common conceptions, especially in pop culture, but even among a lot of psychologists is that your personality is innate.
Like your personality is who you are. It's generally non changeable, it's hardwired. And so. That's the reason you're consistent is because of your personality. Um, but that's, that's why you showed the way you do it. That's why, if you're an introvert, you're an introvert just because it's your personality.
There's not any other reason for it. It's just that's who you innately are. And so, because personality is viewed as innate and generally quite inflexible, um, The goal then is to discover who you are. The goal is to figure out what your personality is. You do that through getting experience. You do that through taking personality tests.
The goal is self discovery rather than self creation. And then once you've discovered yourself, once you finally found out what your personality is, then you can pursue goals, get into relationships and do things. That resonate with your innate personality. So that's kind of how personality is viewed. I think in pop culture, that's pretty common way of looking at as well as you gotta go find yourself.
And then you can finally begin doing what you were meant to do. Um, it's a very passive, non, non proactive way of living and it just doesn't match with the science on how personality actually works and how it's formed.
Jonathan Levi: So how, how does it actually
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: work? Yeah. So there's, there's, there's a few really cool ways of looking at it.
First off, I'll start with research from, from Daniel Gilbert, have you studied him at all?
Jonathan Levi: No.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So he wrote a book called stumbling upon happiness, which is fairly famous, but he also gave a Ted talk, which your listeners are going to freaking love. It's a shorty, it's like a seven minute Ted talk or something like that.
It's called the psychology of your future self. Um, So Gilbert, and again, he's at Harvard, but he's, he's been studying personality development or change over time for a long time. Him and a lot of others, there's a guy named Hal Hershfield who studies psychology and identity at UCLA. But what, what, uh, Gilbert does is he looks at how people change over time.
And so I'll just ask you as an example, like John D do you think you the exact same person you were 10 years ago?
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely not.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Why not? Why do you say that?
Jonathan Levi: Uh, my first inclination is to say I've done a lot of work on myself
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: to
Jonathan Levi: temper my worst qualities, bring out better qualities, learn new patterns of behavior, learn new ways of thinking and showing up in the world.
Uh, I guess that's,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: that's where I would start. Totally, totally. No, a hundred percent. Like if you genuinely just go back and think about who you were 10 years ago, like, you know, drop 10 years off, you're off your age right now and think about. How you viewed the world, like what your goals were, what your situation was, what your priorities were, what your relationships were, what your situation was, what your income was like, all these things.
Um, chances. Yeah. Like chances are, you can really see some huge change. Um, and that's like really common. Like if you ask and especially someone like you, who's interested in learning, learning obviously changes a lot of things, but. That's like a very common answer is that it's pretty easy to see change in the past.
And as someone who's. Intentional about learning as someone who's pretty aggressive about learning, trying new things, showing up in different ways. Like that's especially true of someone like you. And so Gilbert, he asks people that question and it's obvious that people can see that their preferences have changed.
Their priorities have changed. Even the things that they tolerate have changed like personality. And a lot of ways is what you prefer, you know, it's your preference. So like if, you know, do you prefer eating junk food? Like do you prefer sitting around and watch listening to music? Like your preferences change over time?
And, and also the things you tolerate change over time. Like there's things that you just won't accept anymore that you used to accept. There's things that you use to deal with that you just won't deal with anymore. And the same is true of your future self. Like there's, there's things that your future self is going to prefer that they're going to be interested in that they're going to prioritize that you currently don't like there's going to be things that they don't tolerate that you currently do.
And so what Gilbert finds and I think that this is interesting. It's basically that although people can readily see that they're, that they've changed over the last 10 years. What most people do is they radically downplay expect to change in the future. Like they think they can see I've changed a lot.
But I think that mostly who I am right now is mostly like who I am. Um, and so they downplay potential change in the future and he has got two really good quotes, but he basically says that people are works. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished. Um, and then the second one is the reason for this is that it's a lot easier to remember the past than to imagine the future.
And so very few people, you know, are taking the time to proactively imagine and intentionally design their future identity, which actually should be the basis of their current identity. But there's, I'll just share this last thought. Um, is. What the researchers like on these topics, identity and personality are coming too.
And there's a really good, um, there's a really good article on imagined future self and the relation to deliberate practice, deliberate practice, obviously being a key to learning. Um, but your future self, and even your former self, like, I think it's easy to view your former self as a pretty different person than you are today.
You could even say, yeah, my I'm not really that same person, your future self should be viewed that same way. Your future self should be viewed as a very different person than you are today because they are, um, they don't view the world the same way. And if you recognize that if you know that they're different than you are today, then not only can you make better decisions here now, but you can also then engage in deliberate practice where you can actually intentionally learn.
In a way towards a specific goal or self. And so I think when you know that your future self isn't you, then you will hold more loosely your current views in your current identity, which is crucial, which again is a little rare.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I was going to say, you know, for someone who listened to your bio and listened to the conversation up to this point, they might mistakenly think that your books that are about.
Exposing new psychological ideas as kind of, Hmm. That's interesting. But everything you do is about helping people improve. I think this is why you and I get along so well, you are interested at the intersection of psychological research with everyday life. And I mean, your program is called the accelerated momentum program.
Like nothing that you do is about Hmm. That's interesting. Okay. Let's move on with
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: our lives.
Jonathan Levi: Uh, so tell me where that, that rubber meets the road
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: of
Jonathan Levi: self-improvement. It sounds like
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: the purpose of this book
Jonathan Levi: is really to help people deliberately design the personality
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: of their future self. Yes to many degrees, also the former self, uh, if you, if, if you don't change your past and the memories and the story of that past then chances are, you're quite limited as well.
Like it's not only is your future self it desirable, but actually with, with increased context and flexibility, your past self is as well and should be. But yeah, I mean, this is, uh, there's, there's, there's a lot to this it's highly practical. Um, but I think a crux idea of this book. Is that most people are trying to find their personality so that then they can base their goals and their pursuits on their personality.
And so basically their, their goals are the byproducts of their personality. It's much more powerful to have your personality be the byproduct byproduct of your goals. Uh, if your personality is a byproduct of your goal. And so that's really where you would start is who is your future self? Um, and you, and I know this, but like the number one deathbed regret, and there's a lot of research behind this is that people lacked the courage to be who they genuinely wanted to be.
And instead they live the life that they thought other people expected of them. And so the first step of actually moving forward is being seriously honest with yourself. Like Dan Sullivan says all progress starts by telling the truth. And so the truth is what do you genuinely want? Like who, who would you truly be?
If you didn't have a fixed mindset about that, like what would you truly choose for yourself if you weren't worried about what people thought? And if, and so once you've actually, you know, specked that out and thought about who your identity was, cause it's got to start with identity, then you can kind of go backwards and start setting goals and designing environments and things like that.
But if you don't, if you don't think about who you want to be, then you can't deliberately practice. You can't live intentionally. You would just be living subconsciously, which is essentially autopilot. Um, And so just as an additional yeah. Cause I mean, it's, it's essential to live intentionally clearly.
Jonathan Levi: That's fantastic. And
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: I resonate with that because I think at a
Jonathan Levi: certain point,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: you know, Joe Polish always says success traps are harder to get out of than
Jonathan Levi: failure traps. I think at a certain point in my life, I was
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: very deliberate
Jonathan Levi: in designing who I wanted to be. And that brought me to a certain point,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: you know, about.
Jonathan Levi: four years ago, maybe even two years
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: ago. Uh,
Jonathan Levi: and then after that, it kind of, you can fall into
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: these success traps of,
Jonathan Levi: okay, I got to this point and it seems like everyone at this point is
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: doing
Jonathan Levi: this, especially in the circles. You and I, uh, frequent where, you know, you're around many, many, uh, very, very successful entrepreneurs.
It's very easy to get sucked into that trap of, well, I should be doing this or I should be acting this way. Uh, And so I think this is more pernicious than people realize even people who, who may be on the surface level, say like, no, I don't think I'm being someone that I'm not,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: uh, I think it's more elusive than we realize.
Yeah. I mean, what you're saying is really interesting because. Even if you've been successful in the past, it's easy to get caught up in a status in a former identity. Um, like it, you know, one of the things that Dan even says is, you know, always make your growth greater than your status. But, you know, in the book I talk about.
The guy who went to the moon, buzz Aldrin. He went to the moon with Neil Armstrong, you know, and I think this is part of the success trap, but he, uh, he went to the moon. He was the guy who went to the moon with Neil Armstrong. And after he went there, he had a complete vendor, like any, basically went and went, you know, you know the story, but like he, he, he lost his wife, lost his career plummeted in all ways.
And the reason he did it, which you were counting his biography is because. He, he didn't, he liked lost his goals. Like he reached his goals and then he stopped having goals. And then he was just that guy who did that. Like, he was just the guy who went to the moon. And so it's super crucial to let go of former identities, former personas, former, you know, former badges of honor, because if you're pursuing a bigger future, if you're pursuing something new, then you're kind of in like a, that student mind state that you were talking about, where like you're, you're in a humble learning state.
And it's not really about who you were it's about who you're becoming. And so that's, that's a far better place to be. I love that.
Jonathan Levi: Do you have exercises in the
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: book for kind of flushing out this idea of
Jonathan Levi: who I want to be? Because I I'm at this point now, I mean, we're to quote Dan Sullivan, we're working on building a self managing company in my business and it's really caused some struggles for me, cause it's like, well, wait a minute.
If I'm not, if you guys aren't going to need me every single day. And I'm just kind of the guy who pops into create
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: exciting new
Jonathan Levi: stuff, like. What, what am I, who am I, you know?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Um, yeah, I mean, I would ask the question, why create a self managing company. I think that that in and of itself should, you know, the goal shapes the process, you know?
So, so if you're going to create a self managing company, what would that be for rather than creating a self managing company and then figuring out what you can do next it's like. What's the reason for creating this self managing company. Like if you knew that then your ability to create that self managing company would not only have a purpose, but it would also then have a streamlined process.
Um, so I would ask you, like, if you, you know, you know, What would you do if you did have a self managing company? Like how would you, how would you prefer to be spending your time if you weren't caught up in the, like the complexity and the minutia of running a business? Like what, what, what would you ideally be spending your time doing if you had an extra 20, 30 or 40 hours a week?
I mean, I know you're married and stuff and you like to travel, but what would you do with that time and what would you be working on creating and focusing on. Yeah,
Jonathan Levi: I know these are fantastic questions that I've been working. Again, it
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: feels like this,
Jonathan Levi: this episode, we talk a lot about Dan Sullivan, but I've been working all night in strategic coach and really discovering, um, that it, again, back on the topic of personality, like it's actually surprisingly easy to forget who you are.
Like I knew as a, as a young child, I knew that I was a creator
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: and that I was happiest creating.
Jonathan Levi: And then you get sucked into this role. Of, you know, being a
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: thought leader or being
Jonathan Levi: a
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: CEO. And
Jonathan Levi: I, you know, I shouldn't be the one doing X
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: when in fact
Jonathan Levi: X is the thing that makes me the most happy. Like I love
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: the creative process.
Jonathan Levi: Um, so yeah, that's the question that I'm asking myself
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: and partly why I'm so excited
Jonathan Levi: to read personalities and permanent.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Well, the book has literally. Hundreds of journal prompts, um, like in, they're all busted up throughout the book to help you frame through this. But I think if you really thought about it and sometimes it takes some journaling, sometimes it takes pulling yourself out of the weeds and like asking yourself, like, all right, given your current self, given your current situation, and even regardless of your current situation, What would, what matters most to you?
Like if you weren't dealing with this business, even as an example, like if you could throw this away, if you had to, I mean, you don't have to, but if it was, if, if, because you've built this thing, you feel like you must keep doing what you're doing, even if it's not precisely what you want to be doing.
Again, that's a little bit dishonest to yourself. And so it's like the business could be a catalyst, but it could also be some golden handcuffs. And so really. Being honest about what, what would you genuinely like to be doing with your life and what would you like to be doing with yourself and what would be most important to you regardless of what you've done in the past.
And then, and then the next big step, because identity shaped through story is, is that you would then make that your new narrative. Like it's very few people. Are truly blunt and honest and explicit about what they're truly trying to accomplish or who they're trying to be, because they're a little worried about being, you know, it's because it's so personal.
If you don't want to be rejected or you don't, you know, you're right. But it's, it's far more profound and powerful just to be open and honest and explicit about what you're trying to accomplish and who you're trying to be. If you start telling him, and this is what I'm up to, this is who I'm trying to be.
This is what I'm trying to accomplish rather than this is who I am, or this is what I've been, you know, rather than having your identity narrative be so focused on the past or, or on your current status or persona, if it was about who you wanted to be. And you're being really honest and, and not, you know, egotistical about it, but more just.
This is what I, this is what I really want to do with myself. Like, this is where I'm going to go in this next stage. I'm not quite there yet. Um, you know, your future self isn't who you are right now, but, but this is what I'm working towards. And this is, this is what matters to me. This is where I'm going.
If you just start telling people that honestly, and bluntly, there's a few really big things that come out of that first off the people around you can then know what you're up to so they can actually know what truly matters to you. So they can then engage with the true more authentic version of you rather than the self that.
You're just kind of posing as, but they can also see progress. Like if you're, you know, as an example of me five years ago, I started telling people, yeah, I kind of want to start writing. Like, I'd like to be a writer sometime. And then they all of a sudden start seeing blog posts popping up and they hadn't seen that before for Ben Hardy.
Oh, what's up with this Ben, Hardy's blogging now. Like we, yeah. It's because I'm trying to become a professional writer. And then over the years they see me do that. Like, if you start genuinely telling people where you're going, then they can actually see progress. If they, if you don't tell them where you're going, then they're going to assume you're the same guy.
You were five years ago because. They're just hearing the same story you've been telling. And so that's one big thing, but also by genuinely just being fully blunt and honest and telling people where you want to go and what you're up to and what you're committed to, then you can quickly find the right support, the right environments and also the wrong ones so that you can, you can quickly cut your environment so that it's a lot more, you know, streamlined towards who you're ultimately trying to be.
Versus you holding onto so many things. Just to kind of maintain posture or, you know, or to avoid loss or to avoid being viewed a certain way.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, absolutely. And it's not easy, I'll say like,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: none of that takes an enormous amount of time.
Jonathan Levi: You're so constrained by, you know, the conditions that you're in, especially if those conditions are
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: good and, and,
Jonathan Levi: you know, there's nothing forcing you out of your current
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: situation.
And I think that's, that's really hard success trap. Right? Totally.
Jonathan Levi: Totally.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Now I want to ask,
Jonathan Levi: I want to touch a little bit more on this process of improving personality and,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: and
Jonathan Levi: going towards the personality
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: that you want to have. You had said,
Jonathan Levi: you know, the goal defines the process. What are some of the other kind of big takeaways people are going to discover in the book about how they can intentionally design the person that they want to be?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Yeah. Well, there's four levers to personality. There's four things that are kind of driving you to be who you are. One is obviously trauma, which if reframed and redesigned, you know, that will free you up enormously. Um, two is your identity story, which is this the way that you explain your past and your future three, your subconscious, basically just like your actual, like who you are at the core.
And then four is your environment. And so like, these are the things that I walk people through as far as how to actually get you to where you want to go. I mean, if you change any office, so like you just described earlier that your current role as like entrepreneur or CEO is leading you to being a certain way.
Like, that's one of the key predictors of personalities. The role is the role that you're currently in. You change your role, you're gonna change your personality or your personalities gonna show up differently. Um, so I would say like, There's there's so many different directions to go on this. I mean, if you wanted to talk about reframing trauma and like reshaping your narrative of the past, if we used to have that, we could go that way.
But like, if you're really, if we want to just talk specifically about the future, which is a different conversation, you would want to start with your future identity. And just really, if you don't. Yeah. If you're not quite clear on what you want, I would give yourself some space for journaling, maybe reading some books, like actually giving yourself some space away from all the inputs that are maybe distracted and thinking about what do you genuinely want.
But once you've actually framed out who you want to be, and again, and this isn't like 10, 20, 50 years down the road, although that could be a little helpful, but it's like, who do you want to be in three or four years from now? And that that's actually an enormous gap of time to make big change. Once you've actually thought about who you want to be, then you need to set.
A clear goal that would clearly get you there. Um, and so like, I'll explain it from myself, how I got to where I'm at and if you want, I'll explain what I'm trying to do right now. But when I was first in my PhD program, first year, this was back in 2015, my future self at the time. And I'd never written a blog post, didn't have a website, like, but I was just really getting deep into psychology and like right about to start being a foster parent and stuff like that.
But I was like, okay, I want to be a professional writer and I wanted to be like a traditionally published writer. I wanted to be able to make enough money to provide for my family. And given that I had three kids at the time, like I wanted the freedom as part of that job so that I could like work when I wanted to be home support my wife and stuff like that.
So like, these are just specs, you know what Dan does. He has people fill out impact filters to create the success criteria. That's really just defining. Elements of what you want in the future, like actually visualizing and getting detailed about it. So I was getting detailed. I wanted to make at least six figures.
I want to be with one of the big five, you know, publishers. I wanted to have the freedom and like, and so like, this was me framing out my future identity. But once you do that, once you've gotten the clarity of who you want to be, the goal then is to set a goal that will actually get you there. So there's a few reasons why this is super important.
One is. From an identity perspective. If you, if you're clear on what you want and who you want to be, that really clarifies who you can be now. Um, if you don't know who you want to be, then who are you today like that, that that's a question. Um, but if you know who you want to be, then you can know who you are today.
Um, but also having clarity on where you're going. As I already said, it is essential to developing a process to getting there, um, rather than just finding processes that other peoples laid out. Who knows where those are gonna take you. Um, but it's also key for motivation. You can't really have motivation without a clear goal and without, uh, then a process of getting there.
So w so all of these things are crucial. Um, and so what, so once you actually know who you want to be, you gotta have set an intelligent goal. Uh, for me, I figured after talking to lots of agents and stuff like that, I think I should probably get a six figure book deal. Like if that was true and that's an outcome, that's something your brain can actually see and touch like your future identity.
You can kind of visualize it. You can see it, but like a goal it's a measurable outcome, um, which then makes that future self possible. If I got a six figure book deal. Then I would be a professional author. I would be making enough money. I could be, I'd be doing the things that I was doing. Like that's a single outcome that would make my future self possible.
And I had to like do some homework to set that goal. But once you have a measurable goal, then you can reverse engineer the process and you can then start going through mentoring, et cetera. And so I think that because I was so clear on the identity and then the outcome. That once I started blogging online, I was not so obsessed with a process, but I was very committed and specific to the goal in my future self was the why.
But that's why I think I was able to advance so quickly. Whereas I think other people, when they're just focused on the process, like there's so many bloggers, as an example who were really obsessed with. Like just pumping out blog posts and they didn't really, and they didn't really get any better and they're still, they're just pumping out blog posts and they're still like wannabes.
Um, but they say that you should just focus on the process, not the outcome. And I think that that's really bad advice, um, bad advice psychologically, but also just, it doesn't really lead you anywhere. Um, whereas if you're committed to a goal, Then you'll adjust your process to make sure that you, you get closer and closer to the outcome.
And so that's fantastic. That's just, it's amazing.
Jonathan Levi: Like it's amazing how that's, that's how I got to where I am in the success trap. And it's, it's, it's exactly the process. Like I wanted this in my life. I didn't want this in my life. I wanted my life to look like this and not that. And I think, uh, Doing that and revisiting that is one of those things that should be done periodically.
How often do you do that for yourself? Do this big reevaluation of where am I going?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Uh, I mean, it's not even a reevaluation. I would say it's a continuous process. Like I didn't just come to the conclusion one day that I wanted to be perfect. That's not a writer, you know, but like I thought about it and thought about it, but then I really started to like, Actually conceptualize it and think about it and then started to talk about it and get committed to it and then learning about it.
And so, uh, I mean, I'm a big fan of obviously having written goals and like giving yourself time on a weekly or monthly basis even to just. To reflect on where you're going, even for like 20, 30 minutes. I mean, in what part doesn't work I talked about getting out of your routine environment regularly.
That's one of the reasons why you and I would go to genius network would be just to get out of the environment and to give yourself the space to get clear. You can do that by yourself as well, just by giving yourself like 30, 60 minutes to just. Give yourself the space to think, and like, leave the phone away.
If you need to, or put like, put it on airplane mode and throw on some ambient music and like actually give yourself the space to think and reflect on what you want, where you want to go. I mean, if, if that becomes part of your daily process, even if it's just writing your goals down on a daily or even just like thinking about it, I mean, it's actually the goal here is, is that you're living intentionally.
And, you know, the difference between deliberate practice and just normal routine practice. It's like going to the gym and not having a goal. Like if you're going to the gym and just doing the same workout you did yesterday, and you've been doing the same workout for five years, like you're actually like getting worse over time.
Whereas deliberate practice is very much targeted towards. A very specific future self in mind, like research shows that you can't engage in deliberate practice, key word, deliberate without a future self visualized that has the skills you're looking for. And then going through like really rigorous learning.
Like that's how the process becomes transformative rather than just being a process you do. Um, and so, you know, I think that it's, it's it's well, I think the big idea here is, is that, and I wrote to this quite a bit in what part doesn't work. If you're not living intentionally, then you're living unconsciously.
And basically in that case, you're basically just the byproduct of your environment. And so if you want to spend more and more of your time intentionally or deliberately, then I think this is why I'm such a big fan of morning and evening routines because in the morning, if you, if you look at your future self, if you think about them, and then you just think what are a few things that I need to do today to get myself closer, then you're living more intentionally and more consciously versus living subconsciously and on autopilot.
You know, and if you're on autopilot every day and just living reactive to the environment, then you're being consistent with who you were yesterday. But if you're living intention only, then you're being consistent with who you want to be tomorrow. And so the goal, again, like one of the things I said at the beginning, the key finding of psychologists is that people's past predicts their future.
And I think that the big reason for that is one of the big reasons is because they're not living consciously. Like they're not living proactively towards a future self. They haven't scoped that out. They haven't sketched it. They're not living towards goals that are then leading them to living.
Consistent with their future. They're still living consistent with their past. And so I think, I think thinking about this every day is crucial.
Jonathan Levi: I love this and it's worth noting that of all the people who've ever told me. You should have a journaling
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: practice.
Jonathan Levi: You were the only one who actually got me into it.
Uh, when you hosted a challenge for our mastermind and I owe you a forever debt of gratitude, because it's added so much value to my life, having this regular
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: journaling practice. So awesome. I'm glad you liked it. I mean, I think it's really healthy and I think you would see that the people like the Einstein's, the Darwin's, you know, the Edison's like these people were obsessed on just, they gave themselves plenty of time to think things through.
Yeah, absolutely. Now
Jonathan Levi: I wanted to ask, as you mentioned, About personality tests.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: Uh, we're both in circles there. You're going to love this. Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Well, we're both in circles where people live by the Colby. I mean, strategic coach is so based around the Colby, you and I have hung out with Kathy Colby, lay it down for me, man.
Give me, give me the news. Cause we use Colby in our organization now quite a bit. Um, and among other
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: personality tests. Yeah. So it's important to note that Colby doesn't consider itself a personality test. Um, I might disagree, but it doesn't consider itself per se. It's so there's, there's different ways of looking at it, but there's, so there's personality, there's, what's called cognitive, which is not personality.
Um, and so the people who do like Kathy Colby and the, the Colby as a test is not. They don't frame it as a personality test because I've talked to Cathy Colby about this, and she agrees fundamentally that personality changes over time, but she argues that your Colby won't change, which I actually disagree with.
Um, I think that it's far more contextual. So one of the key things here is, is that one of the big problems with these tests is you get a score and you assume it's always true. Um, when context actually matters a lot more. Um, so like it's a focus on content and an ignorance and an ignoring of context.
And so. Uh, in, in different contexts. Yeah. You may be quote a 10 quick start, you know, if someone had a gun to your head or, you know what I mean? Like, so I, my belief is, is that, for example, Dan, who claims to be a 10 quick, sir, I believe he's committed to that identity and he's built his life to become that person.
I've talked to Dan a lot and he didn't use to just be so proactive. Talk about throwing ideas out there fast. Um, he used to hold his ideas on a lot longer and was a little bit more fear-based about sharing his ideas. Whereas now he has an idea and he throws it out immediately. So I believe he's committed to the identity of a 10 quick start and I think he's become that.
And then he's built his environment in his life. So tightly around that single identity, that that's how he views himself to be, even though in various contexts, like when he's at his house, reading the news or just chilling or traveling, I don't think he would show up as that. And so. Um, that's my belief.
This is a point of conflict in my views with the strategic coach folks, which is totally fine. Cause I think it's okay to not be in such a, I think collaborators that have exactly the same views are probably not good collaborators, but, um, I'll tell you some of the reasons why. These tests are invalid.
And then I'll explain to you from my perspective, why they're psychologically damaging or, or they're not helpful to getting you where you want to go, but I will say there is a reason why people think they're helpful. Um, one of the reasons why people think that they're helpful and I guess they could be helpful.
In my opinion, they're kind of fast. Foodish kind of amateurish. Is that. If people haven't taken the time, done the work to understand their identity. And again, their identity is who you are, who you want to be. Um, and it's flexible. Um, then these tests give you a sense of identity. You know, I, if I can call myself a quick Quickstart or if I can call myself an ENT J then I now have a story to explain myself if you don't have that.
And if you haven't really framed out who you want to be. Then there's a lot of ambiguity about who you are. And so ambiguity leads to kind of a little bit of stress. Like you're, you're, there's a lot of uncertainty, although I like the quote that if everything is uncertain or if, you know, I don't remember the quote op, well, I'm going to have to give it now because I love this quote so much.
I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna read this quote one sec. So uncertainty is actually really important for learning. When nothing is certain, everything is possible. Um, the brain keeps you out of situations of uncertainty, you know, because it wants your life to be predictable and stable and safe, but obviously in new situations, that's where you learn.
So anyways, um, these tests give people a sense of identity. It gives them a story that they can then tell to other people and have form of relations. Um, the problem. Is that labels become tunnel vision. They create what's called selective attention. So like, it's like when you buy a brand new car, you start to see that car everywhere.
You didn't see those cars before, but now you see them, but they existed before, but you didn't notice him. And there's lots of cars all over the road that you have no clue. You just have no clue they're there, but you, you keep seeing the one you're driving. That's what a label does for you. Um, and so they create tunnel vision.
Um, they create selective attention. So Ellen Langer, she, her work is something I recommend to everyone. She's a Harvard psychologist. She's been studying mindfulness for the last 40 years. Her two books are life changing. One is called mindfulness. The other is called counterclockwise. She has spent a lot of time studying how labels lead people.
To being mindless. And so if you've, if you've assumed a label, then kind of that whole tunnel vision thing occurs, and you don't notice all the time when the label isn't true. So if someone believes they're depressed as an example, they're going to be mindless to all the times when they're actually feeling good, like to when like things are okay, which is actually a lot, but they don't notice it because they're in tunnel vision mode.
Um, and so that's one of the big problems with overly assuming. A label is, is that it leads you to being mindless to all the times the label isn't true. And another big problem is that once you've assumed this identity, I mean, it goes back to the Gilbert quote. People are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished.
You hear a lot of people say like, this is who I am versus. This is how I see myself right now. But my future self is actually gonna be different. And also my future, my former self wasn't this way, you know, I'd thought, you know, like personality, what the research shows over and over again, is that the bigger the gap between the time you took personality tests, the different the scores will be.
This is one of the reasons why they're not valid. Um, Well, they're not valid because they don't actually study what they're saying. They're studying and they're not reliable because the scores are not consistent. And that validity and reliability are obviously keys to having a valid test. So if you really want to learn more about, like, for example, why the Myers and Briggs garbage, like look up Myers Briggs, Adam Grant, Adam Grant is really smart psychologist at Penn, and he's talked a lot about why these types of tests are junk science, but, um, They're not, they're not valid and reliable because like, as an example, one study took two groups and one of the groups took the same personality test two times in a, in a given period of time, maybe a week or two apart with the same administrator and their scores were pretty similar.
That's not too, too crazy though. Cause it was under the same conditions and it was a short period of time, but the other group took the same personality tests. Same timeframe, but there were two separate test administrators. And by just changing that one thing to the conditions, the two scores that people got were non-correlated at all.
Um, and so it just shows that like how you answer one of these tests is so factored by so many different things. The person giving you the test, your emotions in the moment, why you're taking the test. Um, and the research is now really clear that. The bigger, the gap between tests like now there's, what's called longitudinal research on it where people have studied personality change over 70 years and people's personality is so non-correlated to what it was like 40, 50, 60 years ago.
It's just not even it it's just. Your personality is going to change. Um, and so it's just important to like, let go of owning that who you are right now is who you think you're going to be forever. And if, but, but also just the taking on of labels really stops you from being imaginative to or two you could be.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. Wow. I love it. So the book comes out in June if I'm not mistaken, June 16th,
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: right? Correct.
Jonathan Levi: That's that memory skill there. Where can people pick it
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: up? I'm assuming it's going to be
Jonathan Levi: going to be everywhere. What are, what are you doing for the launch? I know we're recording this way in advance. Like where, where
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: do you want people to pick the book up?
That's awesome. Yeah. So you learn, you learn your lessons, um, from former mistakes. Hopefully I did the launch of what part doesn't work very well. Let's just say it wasn't focused. Um, so yeah, this book, I'm doing all sorts of crazy stuff with the launch, but as far as where I want people to buy it, that's totally up to them.
You know, you can get the book anywhere you want. Barnes and noble audible. Um, Amazon, there are free giveaways. As far as if you buy the book, you can go to Benjamin hardy.com. There's free online courses, courses that go deeper into the concept of the book, personalities and permanent course, but also blogging courses and things like that.
Things that I've paid. I mean, given, you know, had people pay thousands of dollars to get giving away this stuff for people who buy the book. Totally. Awesome.
Jonathan Levi: And I do recommend Ben's journaling course. It's
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: short. It's sweet it's to the point, but it will convince you as to
Jonathan Levi: why you don't need to be a 13 year old girl to write in your journal every
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: single day.
And in fact why every single
Jonathan Levi: one of us should, it really change my mind around what journaling was.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: So, yeah,
Jonathan Levi: highly recommended mr. Ben, Hardy, always a pleasure chatting with you. My friend, I have one more question. As you know, before I let you go, which is, if people take away one really big message from this episode and they carry it with them
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: for the rest of their lives,
Jonathan Levi: what would you hope for that to be?
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: you know that your current self is not the finished product. Mmm. You know, you're, you're a work in progress. Potentially mistakenly thinks you're finished and your future self is going to be different from your current self as is your past self. And if that's the case, then you don't need to overly own your current views.
You know, you can be a lot more flexible than learning and you can then be a lot more intentional towards who you want to be. Um, and I think that that's a rare perspective in the world today. I think that people overly think that they know who they are and they overly claim. The labels that they've adopted towards themselves, which are really just fixed mindsets.
So, yeah. Fantastic. Be open to learning and then be intentional about your future. And then I would argue, be consistent with your future self, not your former self.
Jonathan Levi: Fantastic. Dr. Benjamin Hardy, always a pleasure chatting with you, man. I feel so blessed to have you in my life and, uh, so blessed
Dr. Benjamin Hardy: to have you sharing your wisdom with my audience.
So thank you super happy to do it. You have a really smart, cool, interesting audience. So very happy to do it. All right. My friend, let's keep in touch.
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