This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Dr. Benjamin Hardy. Ben probably needs no introduction, but for those of you that haven’t heard of him, he is an organizational psychologist and bestselling author of “Willpower Doesn’t Work.” Ben’s works have been read by over 100 million people and he’s featured regularly on Forbes, Fortune, CNBC, and many others. He is a regular contributor to INC and from 2015-2018, he was the #1 writer, in the world, on Medium.com.
But, what is it about Ben that separates him and has helped him to have such an influence on the world? Well, having read some of Ben’s works, I think I know. It’s his uncanny ability to challenge societal norms and go against the “herd,” but do it in an easy and understandable way that is practical and can be put to use in your life.
He’s recently released his latest book “Personality Isn’t Permanent” and when I learned the focus of the book, I had to have him on to discuss it, and of course, his thoughts on entrepreneurship as well.
Ben’s journey started when his parents got divorced when he was 11. It caused a lot of trauma. He father became deeply depressed and a drug addict after. It got so bad that Ben could not see him anymore. With everything going on, he barely graduated high school and spent his days playing video games.
You need a future to have hope and happiness. It is hard to have meaning in your life without a future. Ben didn’t have a future at this time in his life. He was not happy.
So, he reconnected by going on a church mission. He did it by himself. It was meaningful and an escape to start fresh. He did it for a few years and it was transformational. He also got into journaling during this time. He got to where he was journaling an hour a day. This helped to find himself and learn to live intentionally. He squeezed as much as he could out of his time and this led him to study psychology and this led to him getting his PhD.
This experience was what helped drive him and shape how he thinks and what he studies and writes about. Ben now continues to write and be a thought leader and lives in Florida with his family.
Why is the story that someone tells themselves so important to their life and their success – and underpinning to their personality?
- Identity is more important that personality.
- Personality is a byproduct.
- Identity is something that you can control.
- Your identity is the story you tell and use to explain yourself.
- Most don’t take the time to consciously reframe their stories.
- Your identity can and should be based on the future and who you want to be.
- You are different than your former self.
- It is good to view your current self as different from your future self.
- You can set better goals to pursue and become a better version of yourself in the future.
- Beware overly defining their current self. “I am X or Y…” It is better to explain yourself in terms of how you want to be and where you want to go. It is a better form of storytelling and doesn’t lock you in.
If someone wants to be deliberate and re-craft their story, what would you tell them to do?
- Being deliberate is the separator – deliberate practice or intentional learning. A process that translates to a specific goal and you need a view of your future self to do it.
- The first place to start is your identity of your future self. It is more important than current self.
- It is impossible to make good decisions today if you don’t know who you want to be tomorrow.
- Use a 3-year time frame. Clarify your future self and who your want to be in 3 years.
- You have to choose who you want to be in the future. If you don’t choose, that is a choice. It comes down to choice.
- Choices must be made even with the uncertainty around them.
- Many times we don’t have choice of our circumstances, but we do choose how we respond.
- Once you begin to tell yourself your new story, you begin to live into what you tell people you are.
Tell us about the book, why is personality not permanent?
- Listen to the TED talk called “The Psychology of Your Future Self.”
- Dominant views of personality don’t reflect the science. Your personality is not innate or your authentic self. It can chance and does change.
- Are you the exact same person you were 10 years ago?
- Study after study has shown that people are not and their personality changes over time.
- “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.”
- People that keep telling themselves the same narrative become rigid and stunt their personal development.
- This why personality tests can be debilitating as they can confirm a personality type, create bias and lock people into something that may not be the best for them and their growth over time.
- Additionally, your environment, social group, and roles you are in also affect your personality and they change over time.
Ben breaks down personality into 4 levers….
- Trauma – Former experiences that are not reframed and shape your subconscious
- Narrative – The story you tell and where you are going – this actually acts against your subconscious as it is shaping your future self in that you will be different than who you are now.
- Subconscious – Where you are right now and your comfort zone.
- Environment – The influences around you
At the 32 min mark, we discuss how this topic has been shared in numerous ways throughout human history, but most still don’t learn it. We also talk why personality tests don’t work.
- Beware living by a label or labeling yourself.
- The biggest problems of personality tests is that they overly define your current self and stop you from thinking about the future an choosing your future – labels trap you and aren’t accurate.
What is the difference between a wannabe entrepreneur and an actual entrepreneur?
- There is an identity shift required to become an entrepreneur.
- People who invest in their future goals, business, and identity get their faster.
- Your willingness to “put your money where you mouth” is helps you succeed as an entrepreneur.
- We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.
- Additionally, your ability to recovery from a setback or past experience and get back to creating the future has an impact on entrepreneur success.
Tell us about the 100% Rule…
- Ben learned it from Clayton Christiansen
- Committing 100% is a lot easier than committing, say 98%. If you don’t’ commit 100% it becomes a slippery slope. What if you were only 98% committed to your marriage?
- Not being 100% can lead to identity confusion and issues with willpower.
- Situation will beat environment if you are not decided. 100% Decisions cut off alternative outcomes.
- Habits are the byproduct of the goal.
- Some are good for everything – constant learning, journaling, serving others, morning/evening routines, etc.
Any big lessons you’ve taken from your adoption journey?
- No other success can compensate for failure in the home.
- Invest daily in your kids.
- It helps you realize that so many other things don’t matter as much.
- Patience and empathy toward your children. Measure the gain, not the gap.
- Don’t overly define your kids around their current personality.
Best Quote: "You need a future to have hope and happiness. It is hard to have meaning in your life without a future.
Ben's Misfit 3:
- Clarify your future self. Clarity creates motivation..
- Tell people about your future self.
- Continually invest in your future self and try new and better things. The bigger the future, the better the present.
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