Saturday, 7 April 2018

Knowing Myself is the Key to Knowing Others (Part Four)


Personality is the sum of one’s history and how one has chosen to interpret and live it. The dictionary defines it as “The combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.” The American Psychological Association defines it as “The individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” 

There are basically two parts to one’s personality. These are one’s disposition and the way one lives out of this disposition. The first is probably outside our control, but the second is fully within our control as thinking human beings. That which we do with the second is what determines our character – how response-able we show ourselves to be.
"Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower." - Charles M. Schwab.
As Stephen Covey rightly puts it, "Being proactive is more than taking the initiative. It recognizes that we are responsible for our own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or conditions. Proactive people are agents of change and choose not to be victims, to be reactive, or to blame others."
There are basically two types of people as it relates to personality. The first are those who are yet to come to terms with their history, allowing it to control them. The second are those who have resolved their internal conflicts, come to terms with their history, and are using it to excel. 

The latter, which is where we should all be, refuse to define themselves by their history but rather shoot for the best life as to offer, despite and in the strength of their history. They are motivated by the life they are designing rather than their demons. To better illustrate, we look at the classic story of “The Two Brothers.” The story goes thus,
“One brother was a drug addict and a drunk who frequently abused his family. The other brother was a very successful man, well respected in society, and had a wonderful family. So, the question was asked the two how they turned out so different.  
The first said, “My father. My father was a drug addict and a drunk and he abused his family. What do you expect me to be? That is what I am.” The second said, “My father. When I was a little boy, I used to see my dad drunk and doing all the wrong things. I made up my mind that is not what I wanted to be.””
The two brothers had the same history but different personalities and outcomes in life. The first chose to make excuses and be a slave of his history. The other trumped it by making use of his imagination and thinking ability. He chose to be response-able. He put his creative aptitude into the task. He understood Stephen Covey's Habit #1, "Be Proactive." 

We always have a choice. It is never what was done to us or what happened to us. Our only limit is our ability to think, imagine and create the experience we want. That is the only limit to who we are and will ever be. We cannot grow bigger than the picture we see of our self. The question is not where we’ve been or what we have been through? The question is, what do we see? What are we seeing? Who do we see? 
"I am what is mine. Personality is the original personal property." - Norman O. Brown.
Who are we seeing? That is the engine that drives our life, personality, and character. As against some beliefs, a person’s core disposition (temperament) never changes once fully formed (wired). The scars don’t go away. The demons don’t die. What can and does change is how a person uses or allows him/herself to be used by these. That is the personality or character change we observe. 
"This journey is about learning to love and honor yourself from the inside to the outside." - Iyanla Vanzant.
Maturity is a measure of how much mastery a person has over his/her native disposition or wiring. Thus, the challenge is not as much the scars or the demons but that we choose to do with them. From ancient times, there have been various personality studies and models to aid in gaining mastery. We will look at a few of these as a way of helping win in this endeavor.


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