I have been working with a few clients taking them through a course I created called Mental Mastery. The emphasis is on mental training that will change physical elements – like athletic performance, success, networking and work ethic most commonly. It also augments any business aptitude, too.
So, the conversation with one of my clients, loosely transcribed (and edited to fit the format here) is below. This particular day we were talking about Personality.
AV: What’s the most important thing to know about your personality?
CLIENT: “That it’s part of who I am and can lead me to success?”
A fundamental element of personality, in my work with students (any age), is this idea that your personality is not fixed. Your personality can change depending on the experiences and environment that shape you.
We can be calm, cool and collected at some point; it can be angry, disappointed, and upset another depending on your experience. Sometimes I’m shy. Sometimes I’m not.
Most of us think of traits like these physical elements of our being – athletic, brown hair, blue eyes.
Your personality is also made up of other adjectives: generous, humorous etc.
These other components are all quite flexible. With this belief, I coach students to a systems-and-goals based personality, so that they can move forward and have the necessary perspective and tools to be successful.
The exercises we’ve been working on are often self-reflective, and my role is somewhat of a shepherd in self-exploration. In doing so, it’s also important to mention that we are often exposed to environmental pressures to be, change or maintain our personality in specific ways, but changes in the environment will also yield changes.
So as we dive into the call that my client and I had, you can learn, takeaway, and grow with them.
Onward. Here’s what we did.
AV: What you think is driving you towards your goals?
CLIENT: “The way I think and act. And motivation?”
At a base level, yes.
Some would immediately suggest it’s your personality, or your work ethic, or your network. But I would disagree with all of that.
When we start to see success, it can trigger a lot of fears and emotions, and we can self-sabotage. What we need is a way to avoid the emotions and stay focused. The emotions can totally mess us up.
So then, we need something emotionless; rigid. It’s your systems. Systems make for your success.
Systems create continuous progress to take you towards your goals, and systems are indifferent. When you are not motivated, when you are not energized, when you’re not inspired things still happen.
Willpower is limited and the system works to support action without willpower.
If the word system scares you, or doesn’t seem clear enough, let’s define it:
System: set of operations and feedback loops that operates with little or no regard to motivation, excitement or other emotions.
CLIENT: “So how do I know if I have a good system?”
Personality helps us determine what we want and what we align with, what’s important, and where we want to go. Systems are the car that gets us there.
Maybe material things aren’t important. Maybe you prefer experiences. If that’s a part of your personality, then let’s create a system supportive of that.
A failing system would be one that supports material things over experiences, and thus incongruence.
I’m not suggesting you change. I’m suggesting that creating a system of alignment can greatly support you being more present, more happy, and more successful at having and doing what makes you happy.
And happy people almost always find success.
What we can see, most of all, is that we are human and the system helps us stay consistent and stay protected. And when (not if) we fall, when we fail, we have a system to make sure to ensure that we retain what we’ve worked towards before getting too far off course.
If building a system and goals is not currently a part of your personality, that’s okay. You can learn and incorporate small changes. A good catalyst will change that.
Working with my students, they too had no system and lacked direction. They were dealing with a lot noise – frivolous uses of energy that netted them only temporary positive outcomes because there was no series and connection to what they actually wanted.
But after some work together, we’ve developed a system and a progressive goal system that HAS BECOME A PART OF THEIR PERSONALITY.
The important elements are two-fold:
- Getting coaching to develop a system and set of goals can push you to where you are successful – this comes as a function of your processes being disconnected from your emotions
- Personality can change, and should, as you grow into more self-awareness, desire, and challenge – which can mean doing or being someone that creates goals and systems
There is a really cool quote from Albert Einstein and I believe it is, that goes:
“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results is the definition of insanity.”
AV: What do you think about that?
CLIENT: “I feel like that’s most of my last year or last season!”
So maybe start with this:
Ask the question: What actions are you taking again and again while expecting the results to change?
We all do it, but we can look at it objectively and then make change.
And if something doesn’t work, how quickly can we change it?
It all seems pretty logical but you’ll be surprised how many people are doing the same thing over and over. Maybe they know it, maybe not.
If you find yourself looking at your results and haven’t hit any of them, it’s a great time to say “Is everything going the way I wanted to go and more importantly why not?”
I liken our issue here with mashing the buttons over and over again (that’s a nerdy gamer comment meaning doing something without tactics or strategy). You may win the round, but when things get tough, you’ve got no shot at a win.
A system is a series of actions and reflections (feedback loops) that acts and operates without regard to emotions.
Putting a system in a place with a combination of clarity and support can help you avoid random actions that are based on motivation and high energy outbursts. Instead, what we are is calm and controlled so that progress and growth is regimented and sustainable.
CLIENT: “So, what role does confidence play in developing in a personality?”
I think there’s a relationship between the two. If you’re confident in your personality, your personality can shine and you can be more confident. It upcycles positively.
Confidence is a feeling and belief, so it can be fleeting as well.
Any top-level performance (athletic, entrepreneurship, etc) is going to be driven by the decisions we make and the way that we feel.
If we’re not feeling successful we are not feeling confident (emotional states) our energy is going to be off and we’re going to make poor decisions.
But confidence can upcycle too.
For example, if you’re really good at math, you start to get rewarded in class with good grades, even when challenged. Then you’re invited to an upper level class. You have some confidence going into that, so taking on something new is not so scary.
After this event, you may realize that you could take on new challenges, and whether you are successful or not, you grow. From that, you may develop a system to deal with the emotions when you get invited to do something you’re afraid of:
- Close your eyes
- Count down from 5
- At zero, open your eyes, GO!
A system doesn’t need to be complicated, after all.
You may also find yourself intimidated, and not confident, which is where having a system like the above is key.
But here’s where personality, systems and confidence can all swirl.
If you are aware of your personality you can make decisions that align with it. If you are goofy and generous, and you’re doing goofy and generous things you’re probably going to feel confident. If you’re doing things that are really serious and very selfish, you’re likely not to feel confident that you’re doing something very different from your personality.
We are often pressured into being something we’re not and we feel stressed, anxious, worried and fearful because we’re not aligned with our personality.
Suddenly, we’re unsure, confidence leaks, and we’re forced to rely on something firm to help us back up. Without a system, there is nothing firm to hold us upright.
But, if a person has a system, they can be sustainably confident – as they’ve got a means to deal with hiccups and blunders, or loss of motivation.
Here’s a few examples of systems I use (below are the simple ones) to make sure I don’t rely on emotions. Try them out:
- I don’t read email when I first get up. Simple, but it keeps me from starting my day with any pulls of emotions. I focus on what I need to do, not what the world wants from me.
- When I talk to someone and say, “I’ll follow up,” or, “I’ll send you that,” I immediately stop. I pull out my phone or journal (I almost always have one or the other) and write it down. I use Google Inbox and save a reminder right then right there.
- Every quarter I sit down and look at my yearly goals. Then I break down quarterly objectives, then I go further into 30, 60 and 90 day goals, so that brick by brick, I’m building towards the yearly in alignment. It takes about 2 hours per 3 months.
- I put events and due dates on the calendar. Another simple item, if I know a certain task is due in two weeks, on the calendar it goes. I spend Sunday looking at the week, and can make a list of things that need to be worked towards when it is present there.
- I get up at 530 and get on a call at 6am each day to prime myself for a supercharged day. Having others on the call is accountability for when I’m tired or not feeling it. But I still do it.
Places where I could use a better system, since I have too much variability:
- Eating a consistent set of meals each day. I’m on the go a lot and sometimes skip meals. Ooops.
- I bought Freedom, and app that lets me block certain websites so I can’t get distracted. I need to start using it.
- I’d like to read more often, and close my day consistently with it.
What are your systems? Are you lacking them? What parts of your personality need to change so that you can use them effectively?