Let me tell you a little story about Brad.
Brad is shy. For most of his life, Brad has been a shy, introverted guy who has trouble socializing and making friends. He doesn’t like big groups of people and gets nervous when he has to give a speech or speak in front of groups. Let’s call him Brad 1.0.
Brad then goes to a personal development seminar.
Brad learns that his shyness is really a story about himself, it’s not real or permanent. He sees that through courage, he can overcome his old habits of being shy and can live an expanded, more courageous life. Brad leaves the personal development seminar thrilled that even though he still feels shy, he can now be social, meet new people and not be afraid of groups of people.
Brad 1.0 becomes Brad 2.0.
Brad 2.0 is shy but has courage. He tells all his friends that instead of just being shy, he’s now someone who is shy, but can be social and make friends, since he also has courage. Brad 2.0 is outgoing, charming and everyone loves him.
Brad becomes a personal growth coach and goes out into the world to say, “Look at me, I’m a shy guy who is a public speaker, and if I can do it, you can too!” Many people follow Brad and they rely on Brad to show the world how afraid he is, but how he pushes through every time.
The problem is that Brad is a charlatan. He’s a fraud, and a liar, and he doesn’t even realize it.
Letting Go of the Story about your Story
Brad built a new identity on top of his old shy behavior. Although his new identity is an upgrade from his old one, he’s still carrying around a belief that he is shy. When Brad 1.0 upgrades himself to Brad 2.0 he’s no more authentic than when he was Brad 1.0.
When Brad 2.0 proclaims he is shy but persists and uses courage, he still believes the story that he is shy, when that was never true to begin with.
Brad is now living inside a story about his story.
How does Brad break out of this? Should he build another more empowering story about his life and live inside that? How does anyone break out of this seemingly endless cycle of personality shifts? The answer is simple. Brad needs to see that he is nothing.
When Brad proclaims himself to be something (i.e. an introvert) then simultaneously breaks through that personality, he is proving and disproving his theory about himself at the same time.
Here is who Brad really is…
Brad is the creator of his life, moment by moment.
Brad has the divine privilege of choosing who he wants to be, every minute of every day.
Every time Brad gives himself a personality, he artificially creates a box and puts himself in it. No box can empower us, since it’s always us making the past our probable future. Personal growth is the exact opposite.
There is No Such Thing as an Introvert
There are only people who behave like introverts.
In fact, at times we all behave like introverts. We all experience wanting alone time and being drained by groups of people engaging in meaningless small talk. No one really likes small talk.
There are also times when we love behaving like an extrovert. When we engage in deep conversation, even in groups, we typically feel great afterwards. Even the most recluse hermit loves a meaningful conversation.
Your personality literally doesn’t exist. It’s completely made up and is never empowering, no matter how you look at it.
When you extrapolate your past into your future, you can only be who you have been. That’s actually how a lot of people see their life. They look at who they’ve been (personality tests) and they determine what kind of future is possible, then pick from those options.
I say fuck that.
The Alternative to Personality
What if instead of building our life around our personality we built a personality around the life we want?
As a kid, I dreamed of being a performing musician. I spent so many hours watching great performers, whether it was a concert in a stadium or a performer on the street. As I grew up and became a musician myself, I realized if I wanted to perform at a top level, I needed to expand who I was. To write better songs I would need to be more emotional, so I spent time working on cultivating my sensitivity. As a result, I became more aware of my emotions. Some would have even said that my personality changed.
In school growing up, I didn’t like doing homework or planning, yet I still wanted to get good grades to attend a top college. I decided the best way to succeed would be to learn to improvise. I started finding out that I could do less and still get good grades, as long as I used my time wisely, only prepared for what I needed, and left the rest of up to chance. I became someone who got good at not planning and thinking on my feet, and as a result, to some people it seemed as if my personality changed.
I decided what I wanted to do, then built a personality to suit that. A far different approach than deciding what I can do based on who I have been in the past.
The only thing holding us back is what we think about ourselves, and personalities are a big way we limit how we engage with life.
Don’t forget who you really are.
A limitless creator.
You get to be whatever and whoever you choose.