Personal development

"Change is a door that can only be opened from the inside"

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 04/25/2014 - 15:09 by Bill McAneny

Open DoorQuestion: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “Only one but the light bulb has to want to change.” Sure it’s not that funny, in fact it’s a serious point. We often hold the metaphoric mirror up to people, show them their flaws; but can we change, and why would we want to?

OK first things first: We can’t really change our personalities. Personality is a result of the interaction between genetic conditions (what’s in our biological data) and environmental conditions (what is fed into us during those first crucial 7-8 years and can be represented this way: P=(GxE). So from quite an early age our personalities are roughly set.

But we can modify our behaviour. Behaviour is a result of the interaction between personality and situation and can be represented in this way: B=(PxS). So change the situation we are all capable of modifying our behaviour. When I teach psychology everyone loves these descriptions until they realise the implications: you really can change if you want to. 

But of course we can’t leave it there. I have worked in organisations across the world, confronted some very senior people with some difficult truths and they sometimes say: “why would I want to change?” So there is another dimension, which is the motivation to change.

"I don’t want to be categorised and put in a box"

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 13:28 by Bill McAneny

Horizon​How many times do you think I have heard this over the years when the notion of psychological assessment is mentioned? Or just as popular: “You can’t classify me I am different.” The problem is that people, like organisations, are like some other people, all other people and no other people. So why assess? It’s a fair question.

Well assessment is not about ‘putting people in a box,’ it’s about identifying some personality traits that help us understand people, help them better understand themselves and so begin the process of development. So if you record as an ISTJ it means you probably will display some ISTJ-like characteristics and that helps when you dig deeper into the whole person. You won’t be like every single other ISTJ. Indeed it’s almost like putting someone in a ‘box’ so that you can then understand them better and so, paradoxically, take them out of the ‘box.’

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