EPISODE 28 — Dr. Benjamin Hardy — Personality Isn’t Permanent
According to Dr. Benjamin Hardy, there were no clues in his past that he would become who he is today — an organizational psychologist with a PhD and best-selling author of Personality Isn’t Permanent and Willpower Doesn’t Work.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Dr. Hardy dives deep into why your past doesn’t define you, how you can reframe trauma and create the future you want, and how shifting your perspective and forcing yourself to act can change your life forever.
He’ll answer questions such as:
- What does it mean when he asserts our personalities are not permanent?
- How can reassessing your past change the course of your future?
- What are “forcing functions,” and how can they turbo-charge achieving your goals?
- How can you overcome fear of future uncertainties?
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1:56 – Where Personality Isn’t Permanent came from. “I wrote this book because I felt like there are a lot of limiting perspectives that people have that stop them from being able to choose who they want to be. There are just a lot of other perspectives and narratives — could be reasons — but people feel limited in who they can become. So, I just wanted to write a book that hopefully provided as much evidence as I could that people can change who they are, and that they already have, and I just wanted to give people control over who they become.”
2:24 – Personality vs. identity. “Personality is more surface level, more internal. Identity is a lot more fundamental. Identity is how you see and describe yourself. For instance, personality is what’s exhibited on the outside. Personality is a person’s consistent attitudes and behaviors. So, if a person consistently shows up a certain way, that’s that’s generally their personality.”
5:45 – Becoming emotionally developed. “Emotional development means you’re willing to deal with your emotions, you’re willing to face them, you’re willing to handle them, and you become what’s called psychologically flexible. You learn how to actually go back and handle your emotions and also handle the emotions of the moment you’re dealing with. I know people who are listening to this are lawyers, so you’ve got to handle your emotions and become developed emotionally, or else you’re going to get blocked by a lot of life. Something stressful is going to happen and you’re just going to cave. So the more emotionally developed you are, the more you can actually frame the meaning of what’s going on. You can see this as, ‘This is happening for me. I can use this. What’s the best way to approach this?’ rather than, ‘This is too overwhelming. I’m just not going to deal with it. I’m going to space out.’”
8:15 – Big changes are possible. “There are processes that successful people go through where they’re actually making really big progress on a monthly or on a quarterly basis, and they’re measuring that progress. So, I think if you have specific goals to improve yourself in certain ways, and you’re actually like regularly measuring and reporting those goals to other people — you’ve got accountability around that — you can make huge changes. You can go from someone who’s not very good with people or someone who’s really shy to someone who’s excellent at speaking with people, who’s excellent in a room. You can go from someone who’s not that great at writing and communicating to someone who’s excellent — if you’ve got really good goals, you’re invested in it, you’re educating yourself on it, and you’re regularly reporting and measuring your progress.”
14:31 – The importance of new opportunities. “I think it’s important to have regular peak experiences, to have new opportunities, to put yourself in new situations, to see new realities — because what you’re currently imagining for your future is based on what you’re aware of. I think that’s another reason to learn a lot of things, read a lot of books, be around different, interesting people, and have new experiences — because then your perspective of what’s possible becomes altered.”
16:19 – You are not your past self. “You’re not the same person you were in the past. If the current version of you was put in former situations that you were in, you would probably do things differently. I know I would handle the situation differently if I was put in former situations. When it comes to your past, it’s important to be empathetic. It’s important to be compassionate towards your former self and recognize that you don’t have to be the same person. But you also don’t have to be angry at your former self. Instead, you can actually just be understanding that they were coming from a certain place. They were in a different situation, and now you now know things that they didn’t know, and you can do things differently as a result.”
18:18 – Uncertainty is essential. “Uncertainty is essential because if you’re pursuing big goals or if you’re pursuing a big future, obviously there is uncertainty because you’ve never actually done it. But you have to get good with that, because that’s where freedom is. You either have uncertainty and freedom, or you have certainty and no options.”
21:36 – Reframing negative experiences. “A lot of it has to do with coming up with a new version of your story, a new meaning, and then ultimately actively sharing that meaning, because a lot of your identity has to do with the story you tell about yourself — past, present and future — and it’s important to realize that the story you regularly tell about yourself is the way that you see yourself. So, if you take the time to look at former experiences and change the meaning of them, rather than viewing them as a negative, you actually look at all the positives that came from it. Then the next thing you would need to do is tell people the new version of that story. Next time someone talks to you about who you are and where you come from, rather than saying, ‘This is where I am, and this is why I’m the person I am,’ you actually frame it a different way.”
23:40 – Catalyst moments. “I think that the catalyst moment is when you really start to question your current future. Andre [Norman] was at a decision point where he was about to do something and he literally questioned, ‘Is this going to impact my big future?’ So as a result, it became real to him that he probably needed to change his goal. For myself, recently I’ve made some adjustments to my fitness and diet, and a lot of it’s because of that quote: ‘Small hinges swing big doors.’ I know that some of my decisions maybe aren’t the best for my long term future self, but I’ve been procrastinating changing some of those things because I’m like, ‘I’ll still get there,’ but at some point, you reach a point where you’re like, ‘If I keep this up, my future will be worse.’ So, the hinge point or the turning point is when you really get clear that if you stay on this path, you’re going to regret the future you’re creating.”
26:05 – Small identity = small future. “I would say for the majority of people it’s that whole idea of ‘urgent versus important.’ Most people are just stuck on the urgent, and maybe they’re still defined by negative traumas in their past that they haven’t reframed. So, their identity is pretty small — therefore, their future’s pretty small, and they’re still regretting former decisions rather than forgiving their former self and just moving forward and maybe educating themselves, learning, improving, and increasing their future.”
28:20 – You are shaped by your environment. “Your input shapes your outlook. You’ve got to be really aware of the information and the people you’re around. The people you’re with are going to shape your personality. You know, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably going to be around entrepreneurs. And if you want to be successful financially, you need to be around people who that’s just their normal mindset. That’s their goal, their values. So, you’ve got to be really aware of your environment — it is fully shaping who you are.”
29:49 – Strategic ignorance. “You need to be smart enough to block off options. That’s part of why I think being an entrepreneur is awesome — because if you’re the visionary and the leader, you would need to hire people so that you don’t need to be aware of every decision being made. You can free your mind up to actually focus on the things that matter rather than having 1000 ping pong balls going off your head. Strategic ignorance is super important if you want to have high energy and clarity towards whatever you’re trying to focus on. If you’re trying to do too many things at once, you’re not ging to be able to make good decisions. You’re going to be in a state of decision fatigue, and it’s ultimately going to stop you from taking steps forward.”
37:20 – How do you stay in peak state? “For me, it’s about having fewer goals, but when I’m actually working, I’m hyper focused, I’m recovered, and I’m doing the few things I know will create the biggest results. A lot of it’s recovery and also having fewer goals, honestly. You know, really trying to go big on one thing rather than being okay at five. That’s how you get into a peak state, and that’s how you have a lot more flow as you pursue fewer things, but you pursue a lot bigger and higher things that require you to be focused. Applying forcing functions get you into a peak state. You know, having deadlines, being really congruent with your future self and what you’re doing — like just being in a flow — and also eliminating things really enables peak state.”
38:43 – What does being a game changer mean to you? “It’s kind of about changing your game and also about changing the game. You know, the game I’m playing right now is very different from the game I was playing three or four years ago when I tried to become a professional author. Now, it’s like, ‘How do I get to a higher level?’ So, I think being a game changer means that you’re constantly playing a better and a different game than your former self, and that your future self is the one driving that game. I also think on a more macro level, you change the game by kind of knowing and anticipating or predicting where the future is, and then setting the stage for your group or your industry.”
Personality Isn’t Permanent by Ben Hardy
The Harvard Grant Study
Teleology and philosophy
Willpower Doesn’t Work by Ben Hardy