Most of the time people don’t change themselves on their own, though they are changed by the environment. For example, there is no way learn about the need of being friendly if this knowledge is not given by the society. I believe that those who think otherwise are deceived by the perception of “I am a center of the Universe.” They think that know everything and can rule the world, which is, by any means, a cognitive bias.
Let me explain, I believe humans can change their habits and behavior over time, but this takes a lot of power and time, which is often irrational. I think that people are pushed to change themselves by the society they live in, no way to make in otherwise. Thus, when I talk about building a character I want to have, first of all I mean that I know about the need of change. I analyzed my life in a society and found that I can reach more potential having a little different attitude and views. Thus, my environment influenced me to make the first move of change.
Know how others see you
To learn a bit about myself I wanted to ask my friends, family, colleagues and bosses some simple questions about me. I wanted to include questions about professional and personal. The idea of such a questionnaire comes from The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, where he mentions another artists, who make the same thing. My questions were organized in a Google form and looked like that:
- What are the professional strengths of Jegor?
- What are the professional weaknesses of Jegor? What does he need to improve?
- What are the personal strengths of Jegor?
- What are the personal weaknesses of Jegor? What does he need to improve?
- What are the fears of Jegor? What is he afraid of?
I considered the fifth question the most important, because it would show me the parts of my character which I might be blind to.
When the form was ready, I sent it out to the list of addresses, asking them to spend 5 minutes to fill out the form.
I don’t always know what I want to do in life, but I sure know when something isn’t right. I decided to take any advice from the form and pursue it if it does fit with my own view of myself and is rational. Surely, I have the vision of myself, and I am aware of negative aspects of my personality, as well as my professional ups and lows. Thereby, before reading the answers of the form, I answered to these questions myself to compare.
Reading the answers from the form took me about 3 hours, immeasurable amount of energy and several cups of coffee. I have a separate little sauna house on the territory of the land plot, so I imprisoned myself there to minimize distractions. There, I sorted the answers out to get the final list of thing I want to try to do with myself. It was hard, because I had to accept the criticism, look into the future to compare my plans with the person I want to be, and create the new vision of myself.
Finally, I got 17 positive professional skills and character traits I need to improve and 10 negative I need to work on to get the out. It’s going to be hard and might take the rest of my life. But what’s the other reason to do that if not continuous improving?
What I plan to do:
- Make a list of things I can implement immediately according to the character I want to have;
- Make a detailed plan of things I need to do (courses, books, practicing, etc.) to develop positive traits;
- Visualize the outcome of my work.
The idea of working of character traits the environment wants you to have comes from The Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal, where he quotes Warren Buffet:
One of the best things you can do in life is to surround yourself with people who are better than you are. High-grade people. You will end up behaving more like them, and they, in turn, will get it back from you. It’s like a planetary system. If you hang around with people who behave worse than you, pretty soon you’ll start being pulled in that direction. That’s just the way it seems to work. Who you choose to associate with matters.
I developed the idea further and asked those people to help me, answering the simple 5 questions. The rest is the history.