Why your spiritual growth is essential for success

Why your spiritual growth is essential for success

What does spiritual growth have to do with material wealth? 

It’s a fair question and a very important one at that.

Yet, few ever make the connection.

As a coach, yogi, and sustainability consultant I have the unique advantage of traversing these seemingly different territories. In doing so, I get the chance to explore the essence of each industry.

Funny enough, each of the above sectors corresponds to the three essential aspects of our life: mental, physical and emotional.

And when these areas operate in alignment and synchronicity, moving to a rhythm and pursuing a common goal, then life starts to feel meaningful, exciting and rewarding.

What does this journey look like? 

To cover this topic, and any topic at that, it’s essential to understand the lay of the ground.

This is where a clear and comprehensive framework comes into play. Today we’ll be looking at the 4 levels of spiritual growth, and their impact on our happiness.

The 4 levels of spiritual growth take you through four stages:
– level 1 –  to me
– level 2 – by me
– level 3 – through me 
– level 4 – as me

TO ME 

At this stage, we are operating from the mentality of a victim.
When things don’t go well we wonder why negative events happen to us.
There is little room for positive thinking, creativity and inspiration.

Any setback makes us feel a huge wave of overwhelm, depression and anxiety. We doubt our ability to manage and navigate the challenges. It’s demanding and stressful.

At this level, we are easily distracted, manipulated, and swayed off our path, because we focus on the opinions of others. We can often self-sabotage and avoid difficult situations, which actually can offer us the potential for growth.

BY ME 

Once we come to terms with admitting and accepting this victim mentality and agree that it has nothing valuable to offer us, we become inspired to seek change.

By getting clear on what inspires and motivates us, we can gather clarity, motivation, inspiration, and energy to set attainable goals, and create aligned actions. Through consistency, discipline and implementation, we learn new lessons and slowly find ourselves getting closer to the goal.

 

THROUGH ME 

At this stage, all our efforts start producing compound results, which helps us taste the fruits of our previous labor.

Through the daily embodiment of the skills that we wish to develop, we start to feel assured of our ability to achieve what we set our minds to. This confidence helps ease the worry because we are no longer focused on outside events, but on our efforts.

AS ME 

The flow and synchronicity that we began to experience previously becomes a new norm, a new lifestyle, and a personal standard.

It becomes easy to attract new possibilities and opportunities, which keep moving you further ahead and deepen your wisdom. This energetic flow becomes easier to navigate and ride, bringing you a sense of capacity to face any challenge.

Tools such as grounding charged energies, calming turbulent emotions, and communicating tough truths, can help you master your circumstances, no matter what.

Success is YOU

If you are no longer a victim of your fate, then you become the maker of your life.
You start to realize just how powerful, influential and valuable you are.

Therefore your spiritual growth has a lot to do with you personal and professional development as well. You are here for a reason, and the world could benefit from your most authentic, aware and accomplished self. Making you a positive force for others.

The key is to become aware of our patterns and tendencies and improve them as we go. With time, it becomes easier to see the change and to taste your dreams.

The world is waiting to co-create with you!
Are you in?

Let me know in the comments below. 

All the best,
Hokuma

Useful links:
https://upliftconnect.com/four-stages-spiritual-growth/

 

 

 

 

Your evolving Mind — Part 3: the mental maze

Your evolving Mind — Part 3: the mental maze

Success and mindset coach who utilizes proven techniques of coaching, psychology and mindfulness to navigate you to success.

photo by @john_visualz.

Did you know that only 5 percent of your thoughts are conscious?
The other 95 percent is lost in the dark corners of your subconscious mind.

So, when you’re looking for specific answers to some personal questions, it is difficult to come to a quick understanding, as the logical chain can be long and complex. You’d need to do some probing and analyzing first, before the pieces can fit together to reveal the bigger picture.

Doing this alone requires much time, skill and emotional flexibility. A lot of frustration, trial and error is required when doing anything on your own. But, the process can be simplified and made easier with the help of a professional coach. So if you’d like to truly get to know yourself, schedule a call and start exploring the 95% of you that isn’t visible to the eyes.

So how is our mind structured?

 
source: http://www.swamij.com/yoga.htm

What you need to know is — as humans we try to operate these minds and bodies without a manual guide. And with every step within things become more complex and mysterious. No wonder, only 5% of your thoughts are conscious, the other 95% are buried deep in the subconscious.

The conscious mind is creative. It learns from what the world feeds it and creates patterns.

The subconscious mind is habitual. It is a sum of all that it learned throughout childhood.
(Swan, 2016)

In order for these two minds to grow, they need to learn to communicate.

As one scientist explained:

“There is a conscious mind that can think freely and create new ideas ‘out of the box’. Then there is the subconscious mind, which is basically a super computer loaded with a database of programmed behaviors, most of which we acquired before we reached the age of six.” (Life Trainings)

As we get older the subconscious mind becomes so good at making decisions, that we don’t even notice the moment this happens.

In fact, our subconscious makes a decision even before we are aware of it.

Studies show that: “our brains begin to prepare for action just over a third of a second before we consciously decide to act. In other words, even when we ‘think’ we are conscious, it is our unconscious mind which is actually making our decisions for us.” (Life Trainings)

The decisions made by the brain are so fast and complex, that the only way to influence our mind is through thoughts. The filters by which we organize and analyze incoming information.

That’s because the conscious mind can learn on its own, without having zero impact on the subconscious mind. So you can read all the information and theories you want, but until they turn into actionable steps or habits, you won’t reap the benefits of your inner work.

One challenge with growth is that our blue print for processing information is established by age 7, before we even become aware of logical thoughts.

 
photo by @aaronburden.

What do you control? 

You control the biggest part of the process — you decide which thoughts you are willing to entertain. Since it’s not possible for our mind to think two opposing thoughts at the same time, you get the freedom to choose where you want to place your attention.

This is why having a clear and passionate goals is so vital for our growth and success. Our mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real or imagined, and that’s what gives us power.

By focusing on the details of your goal, you indirectly program the subconscious mind to keep following the desired course, adopting new habits and reshaping your mind’s operating systems.

Taking inventory of your current environment will help you see what aspects of your present lifestyle hinder or help the process. With the mind the trick is always to start with something simple, and slowly walk your way into the deepness within, feeling your way as you go. (St. John, 2017)

Why though?

What’s the need and point of doing all this work?

The point is — if you’re not careful and don’t pay attention to your subconscious mind it will run your show called life, not from the perspective of development, but from pure habit.

You become that hamster in the wheel. Moving, going, and doing, without actually progressing. So if you’re not happy with what you’re currently seeing, remember that your life is a reflection of the programs of your mind. It was shaped by the age of 7, and if it’s not serving you, it’s time for change.

Fair warning for all beginners, this process is emotional and can be uncomfortable. But it is so worthwhile and valuable, that by putting it off for later, you’re delaying your true happiness.

 
photo by @krivitskiy.

Because the subconscious mind responds to your thoughts, it’s important to start by simply becoming aware of them.

Remember that in moments of fear, the decision making power goes automatically to the subconscious mind (it’s much faster than logic). To work through the blocks, we need to take the subconscious thoughts and make them available to the conscious.

Mindfulness and self-awareness are essential.

Here are some easy and fun ways to develop those skills:

 1) Journaling — asking yourself questions
2) Meditation — spending time with your thoughts
3) Visualization — imagining what the future could feel and look like

If you want more help with setting detailed, specific and powerful goals, make sure to check out this free masterclass on how to make smart goals.

Take Away: 

Now that you know the complex make up of your mind, what will you do about it?

As the scientists from this TIME article suggested:

There is a “‘Passive Frame Theory’, and their provocative idea goes like this: nearly all of your brain’s work is conducted in different lobes and regions at the unconscious level, completely without your knowledge. When the processing is done and there is a decision to make or a physical act to perform, that very small job is served up to the conscious mind, which executes the work and then flatters itself that it was in charge all the time.”

With this nugget of information you now have the power to radically transform your life. To continue operating like a zombie with only 5% of your conscious mind, or be courageous to finally claim your full power — the one you’re aware of, and the one still waiting to be found.

Your evolving mind  Part 2 — The steps to growth

Your evolving mind Part 2 — The steps to growth

Success and mindset coach who utilizes proven techniques of coaching, psychology and mindfulness to navigate you to success.

A few days ago you were introduced to the different stages of our mental evolution. Today, I would like to give you the details of how it happens.

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read the previous article first, before diving into this one, as they follow a certain thought pattern.

See, as a coach I know firsthand that many people are held in the dark about the central workings of the mind. I believe this is disruptive to human evolution. Therefore, my goal is to dispel all the mystery and make these facts more readily accessible to the public.

Driven by this mission, I decided to make a progressive series that takes you on a deep journey within, where you see the intricate connections between our mental, emotional and physical systems, and how they impact each other.

Of course, the information here is a generalization, and each individual experiences their life differently. Therefore, if this information is piquing your interest and you want to see how it can be applied to you, I encourage you to book a free call with me, so we can identify a strategy customized for you.

With that said, let’s dive in!

Linear growth is a myth

Here is the truth — nothing in life is linear.

 

I’m saying that because if you looked at the graph from the previous article you might have assumed that the growth line is straight. Yet, if you zoom in closer, you’ll see that it’s not straight at all. There are many ups and downs between one level to the next. That’s because everything in life is energy, which is made of waves that ebb and flow. And we will be going deeper into this at a later time, but for now it is just something to keep in mind.

Once you learn this, you will start to notice that unfortunately much of life is viewed from a linear lens. The way most people think and see the world is in a straight line, with little room for deviation. From economical theories to architectural blueprints — straight lines and 90 degree angles tend to dominate our reality. This is the norm, but this is not natural at all.

In fact, this is what makes the works of Gaudí so impressive! His works help remind the individual that life can be more flexible and magical if we get comfortable with thinking out of the box the world tries to place us in. 

Architecture designed by Antoni Gaudí. Photo by @tylerhendy.

His architecture is breathtaking and is one of the reasons so many tourists flock to Barcelona, Spain on a yearly basis. If you have not seen his work and experienced it firsthand, then I highly recommend it!

The buildings he designed introduce an element of movement that is energizing and awe inspiring. Being around his works one quickly realizes that separating the self from nature and its diversity is a choice, and therefore can always be changed.

But let’s be honest, such brilliant minds are few in history. Most people choose to follow the status quo, so this out of the box thinking and creating is in limited supply in the modern world, and this series is a desire to change that.

The good news is that today I will share the steps we take when learning something new, so if there’s any change you want to add to your life, you’ll have the exact roadmap for how to do it. You’ll notice that it all starts with awareness. By simply being here and reading this information, you will have already taken the first step to change, and that is something to be proud of.

Let’s get started!

Four stages of learning

To transition from one stage of perception to another you need to expand your awareness and understanding. Learning happens incrementally, not all at once. That’s because our brain is a network of connections, not a cabinet filer that neatly organizes new and past experiences into their tiny compartments.

And because everything is connected to everything else — learning takes time, practice and patience. It is a process of integrating the old with the new, so that a bigger, brighter and more comprehensive picture of ‘reality’ can emerge.

Here is the process:

 
The four steps of learning.

Step 1 — Unconscious Incompetence 

You don’t know what you don’t know. Unless someone introduces a new idea, a new language, a new food, that idea or possibility will not exist in your mind.

Step 2 — Conscious Incompetence 

Once that seed of potential is planted in your mind, you begin to comprehend that another way of doing or being is possible. If this is something that is appealing to you, it grabs your interest and you spend more time getting to know it. At this stage, the individual begins to take the necessary steps to familiarize them self with this new concept.

Step 3 — Conscious Competence 

When that idea is fully understood and accepted, the individual begins to make an effort to incorporate it into their life. Bridging the gap between step two and three is not easy. It requires commitment, accountability and discipline. This includes making time in your schedule for the new activity, investing in the change and altering daily patterns to introduce new habits.

Step 4 — Unconscious Competence

After several days and weeks of retraining the mind, the new behavior becomes more habitual and eventually turns into a new routine. At this point, the mind has had so much exposure and training with this action or activity that it happens subconsciously, and can be done with ease and almost no effort. When this point is reached, the individual has mastered the new skill.

Zones of learning

When the difficulty of adopting the new skills seems to match the available time, interest and resources, the individual enters the ‘learning zone’. When the difficulty looks greater than the available skills and resources, the individual becomes overwhelmed and enters the ‘anxiety zone’.

This is why moving slowly and deliberately through new goals and aspirations is so important. Most individuals are overcome with the passion and inspiration in the first stages of getting introduced to a new idea that they go all in without taking into account all four steps of the process.

Without a proper plan and preparation, the motivation can quickly run out, and the new goal or idea is put on the shelf or replaced by something else. If this is something you are familiar with, then I recommend checking out a free masterclass in which I walk you through the 5 steps of reaching your goals without delay and overwhelm.

As Alexander Bell once said:
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

The Takeaway

 
The golden rules of life. Photo by @rafaelabiazi.

Progress doesn’t happen in a straight line. This information is nothing new, but it is something we easily forget in moments of urgency, stress or emotion. So reminders are important.

It’s valuable to recall that life is more like a dance, maybe something like the cha-cha slide. Depending on the time and day, your motivations can be high and encourage you to move your feet closer to the goal. Then life gets in the way and other commitments grab your attention, so you take a few steps back. And so this up and down, side to side pattern emerges.

With enough time and commitment to the dance, the steps become more familiar and natural, and the learning progress turns into something exciting and meaningful.

The key is to take it easy and have fun with it!
In time, all will come together.

Your evolving mind – Part 1

Your evolving mind – Part 1

Success and mindset coach who utilizes proven techniques of coaching, psychology and mindfulness to navigate you to success.

There are certain things we don’t learn in school, things that are vital for our growth and success.

These items are crucial, and yet they don’t get passed down to us through education, are not shared at work, and are rarely available within our family.

This realization can make us angry, after all, how can such critical information be withheld from us? But, the mere fact that you are reading this text is a sign that you are on your way to transformation.

If you end up liking what you read, and want to learn more about how to take your productivity, motivation and self-worth to the next level, then book a free call with me so that we can build a personalized growth strategy for you.

With that said, let’s dive into these transformational insights!

Part 1. Your Mind Is Evolving

From the day you were born, you have been growing and learning. Sometimes the lessons have been easy to understand, such as studying and passing exams. Other times, the lessons were acquired through difficult encounters, such as heartbreak, loss, and other traumatic events.

What you need to know is — all those lessons were there to serve one purpose — to remind you time and time again, that YOU are the MASTER of your LIFE!

In other words, yes, the world around you is unstable, and no, you can’t control others, BUT, you do choose the narratives you give such events and can decide on how to perceive them.

When this fact is fully acknowledged, your authentic power is unlocked. You move away from a victim mindset (in which life happens to you), to a creative mindset (in which you are an empowered individual who designs your life).

Here is a brief overview of the main stages in our mental evolution.

 
The four critical levels of the mind’s evolution.

1. Basic (Subconscious): 

This is the level you are born into. If you observe children you’ll notice how their primary emotions run their life. Crying when hungry, fearing new places, and getting frustrated when in discomfort. Their mind is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Things on this level happen automatically, without logical thought or knowledge.

2. Simple (Causal):

At this stage, individuals start to understand the basic rules of life. This happens at home with parents and at school. If I do this, then that will happen. If I don’t do this, then I won’t be able to do that. At this stage we recognize the relationships between cause and effect, and how they manifest in our social settings and individual relationships.

3. Formal (Situational): 

As we grow up and enter the ‘real world’ we start noticing that not everyone plays and abides by the same rules. Not everyone does what they said they will do.

For example: being kind to someone does not mean they’ll be kind to you.

As we experience and understand the complexities of life we learn the differences between each situation and individual. Finally, we become aware that assuming similar results from different people, without clear communication and complete agreement, will leave us feeling disappointed.

4. Abstract (Integrative): 

The highest and hardest level to master in our mind’s evolution is the abstract stage. The stage where we focus on what’s important and within our control, while letting go of all that isn’t. Mastering this stage is hard, but important. Getting to this stage requires self-awareness, mindfulness and self-compassion. It is here that we discover our values and align with them.

In fact, researches found that the third stage is a bridge to the fourth stage:

“This tendency toward formal, abstract, categorical thinking…[is] the developmental bridge leading from a dominant, concrete, associative mode of thought towards the dominant abstract, analogous, symbolic mode of thought of the educated adult. The development of thinking from early adolescent to adulthood does not move towards more formal abstract categorical thinking, but towards integrating abstraction powers into the personal, picturalized, contemplative mode of thinking …which characterizes the mode of thought of the educated adult.” (De Wit, 2018).

So, while we all age, we don’t all move through these stages of mental growth.

Part 2. You’re Leaving a Legacy

Life is precious and many of us want to feel that we are making a difference, that our work matters, and that we will be remembered long after we’re gone.

 

If you feel your current life doesn’t reflect this, then it’s time for change. But in all honesty, transformation is hard, as it requires getting honest with ourselves, accepting our shortcomings, embracing our strengths and rising up to the challenges that life presents us.

Thanks to the efficiency of our brain, humans have successfully survived and evolved to where we are now. But our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is outdated, and in a world where danger is no longer found in the wild, but in our minds, business as usual just won’t do.

Those who choose to fight their problems find themselves burnt out and overwhelmed. Those who opt to escape go down the rabbit hole of avoidance, which manifests into anxiety, and if prolonged turns into depression.

So the only sustainable solution is to evolve our mind.

Thanks to science and research, we have the tools and techniques to re-wire our minds in a way that serves us. This transformation happens when we find our core values, build resilience, and engage with others in a meaningful way.

A very well-known advocate of this movement is Simon Sinek, who encourages organizations and individuals alike to find their ‘why’. He says that with this information we can lead more fulfilling and enriching lives.

But, there are certain things that Simon Sinek got wrong….especially when it comes to millennials.

In an interview that has been viewed by over 8 million people, he suggested that younger generations are entitled, and that our desire to ‘make an impact’ is nothing but a fluffy idea, which he can’t even understand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

As a psychologist and a mindset coach, it is very unfortunate to hear a bright mind like Sinek speak this way.

If anything, science and research has shown that diving into our values and strengths motivates and encourages us to share our gifts with the world, producing the positive social impact we desire, while living out more meaningful and happier lives. So, what’s not clear here?

Part 3. Breaking the Cycles

Of course, change is not a one-step process. The world falsely tells us that we need to develop quickly and that miraculous overnight changes can happen to you. Well, my friend…here is the truth, they won’t.

Moving away from certain habits and cultivating new ones requires a lot of energy, self-awareness and commitment. Our brain is efficient and has enabled us to survive for all these years, but it doesn’t like change, as it requires tons of energy, focus and a whole lot of work.

So as individuals, we end up being prisoners of our habits, utilizing thoughts and actions that may have served us in the past, which are no longer helpful for adapting to our future.

The following steps are essential in creating the space and time for change:

a) Awareness: Begin by recognizing your current situation. Determine whether it is creating the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences you want to engage in.

 b) Acceptance: Once the current situation is clear, it’s time to be open and honest with yourself. If you’re not happy, admit that your current way of being needs to be updated.

c) Action: Dreaming and wishing does not equate to being the person you want. Acquiring information from books and blogs is wonderful, but unless it’s applied to our daily life, you won’t see tangible results.

Part 4. Committing to Action

Sticking to change and incorporating new routines is hard. Not only do we need to fight our habitual brain, but we also need to stay focused in a fast-paced world filled with distractions.

 

E-mails, texts, notifications, shows and social events prevent us from fully committing to our goals. But the good news is that, as long as you get through steps 1 and 2 (awareness and acceptance), step 3 will come naturally, and you will be energized to take action and start leading the life you actually desire.

The beauty of such action is that it aligns us with our values and true passion, so self-confidence and motivation grow strong. This commitment and productivity build momentum, which raise your energy and bring positivity to your life. And suddenly, without even realizing it, you become a magnet who attracts the right people and opportunities that propel you forward.

But, none of that can happen until we truly commit to our goals and action steps. Our level of commitment is dependent on our current level of self-love and discipline. Lack of progress with action is a sign that these two areas of your life need some work and attention.

Will Smith shared wise words on how self-love and discipline are connected:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjvlBMtHOZE

The Takeaway

Our mind is the key to all our desires and dreams. Once we learn how to properly use it, there will be nothing that we can’t achieve.

If you personally feel there is more you want to tap into, and there are changes that you are tired of postponing, then here’s a suggestion for you. Watch this free masterclass where you can learn the exact 5 steps I share with my clients to help them reach their goals without delay and overwhelm.

After all, whether we care to admit it or not, none of us are getting younger. While the physical changes are visible and easier to address, the most vital changes happen at the level of the mind. And that is a completely different ball game, one that’s hard to master on your own.

So now the question is: Are you ready to evolve your mind to its highest levels and tap into your full potential? Once you do, you’ll become unstoppable, and you’ll finally understand what Einstein meant when he said: “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.

Your Personality vs. Your Character

Your Personality vs. Your Character

Success and mindset coach who utilizes proven techniques of coaching, psychology and mindfulness to navigate you to success.

Why should you know your personality traits?

Because they are big predictors of your behaviors and attitudes in life.

The world we live in is different from what it was ten, five, or even one year ago. Thanks to social media, easy to use communication tools, and global migration, the pool of possibilities and available information to browse through is constantly expanding.

Without a clear idea of one’s own preferences, making the ‘right choice’ can be extremely difficult, and confusing. Knowing the environments in which our personality traits can serve our best interests will help decrease this ‘paralysis by analysis’ state that many might fall into.

Personality is unique to each individual, and knowing what makes us, ‘us’, can lead to more life satisfaction, better life choices, and overall success, in both personal and professional spheres.

The Meaning of Character & Personality Traits

While character and personality are both used to describe someone’s behaviors, the two examine very different aspects of that individual. That’s because personality is more visible and easier to spot, while character is revealed through time, with varying situations.

In more concrete terms:
“Personality is easy to read, and we’re all experts at it. We judge people [as] funny, extroverted, energetic, optimistic, confident—as well as overly serious, lazy, negative, and shy—if not upon first meeting them, then shortly thereafter. And though we may need more than one interaction to confirm the presence of these sorts of traits, by the time we decide they are, in fact, present we’ve usually amassed enough data to justify our conclusions.

Character, on the other hand, takes far longer to puzzle out. It includes traits that reveal themselves only in specific—and often uncommon—circumstances, traits like honesty, virtue, and kindliness.” (Lickerman, 2011)

Therefore, while personality is easier to spot, it is hugely influenced by heredity and for the main part immutable. Character, on the other hand, takes longer to discern, but is easier to change. That’s because character is shaped by one’s beliefs, and with enough effort and motivation, through a change in perspective, the view of the world can be altered.

The malleability of character is very helpful and important for human evolution. People learn to adapt to new environments and change with the times. For instance, an individual who might have a shy personality can learn to switch their attitude towards public speaking when stepping into the role of a teacher. The new social and external demands lead to an internal shift.

It shows that, if an individual deems the change as significant enough, then their beliefs will transform to accommodate the transition. In this way, even if the inborn trait is to shy away from the public, the beliefs and values that shape our behavior can evolve to reflect the values of our immediate groups and communities. Such awareness and adaptability help with survival. (Kurtus, 2011)

The bottom line is, despite our inborn personality traits, we can always transcend them, depending on personal or cultural demands. Here is a video by Brian Little that introduces this phenomenon, and explores how our character is modified by the core projects we embark on.

Type & Trait Theory: MBTI, Big Five and PEN

In today’s world, identifying personality traits has never easier. “In the US alone, there are about 2,500 personality tests” to choose from. (Ash, 2012) Yet, quantity does not imply quality.

Due to the immense variations in personality, it is difficult to try and divide people into neat types. Instead, assessing individuals by the most common personality traits can empower us to deduce a person’s behavior by looking at the average of their choices. (Pappas, 2017)

Below is a list of the most widely used personality tools that will identify your personality traits. The pros and cons of each one are also highlighted.

So let’s get started.

Personality Assessment Tools

A) MBTI:

The most popular, but not necessarily the most accurate, personality tool is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). In fact, of the top Fortune 100 companies, 89 utilize this tool when making hiring and teaming decisions.

MBTI is so widely used, that this assessment can be done in 24 different languages (thanks to numerous translations), and is often employed by a number of political and military agencies.

This is very interesting, as the creation of this tool happened during World War II, when two housewives, Myers and Briggs, inspired by the work of Carl Jung, wanted to assist the transition of women into the workforce. The idea was that, with a better understanding of the self, women would be able to join a work environment that is best suited to their personality.
(Burnett, 2013)

The questionnaire assesses individuals based on four pairs of psychological preferences:

1. extroversion vs. introversion

This paradigm examines the ‘attitudes’ of individuals. Those defined as extroverts, are believed to draw personal energy through interactions with others. Without the external stimuli their energy can start to wane.

Introverts, on the other hand, are said to expend personal energy through interactions with others. Therefore, to recharge their batteries and regain centeredness, they seek quiet time to reflect on what is happening. After gaining new understanding of the situation, they proceed forward.

2. sensing vs. intuition

This aspect focuses on how individuals gather information from their surroundings. Those who prefer the sensing method are said to rely more on clues that can be gathered by the five senses, which means their stimuli needs to be present and concrete.

If someone relies on the guidance of their intuition for decision making, they prefer deducing the outcomes by identifying overall patterns, and connecting the different parts through theories, and other available information.

3. thinking vs. feeling

When it comes to decision making, those who identify as thinkers, tend to make conclusions based on rational and more detached standpoints of view. This means, they prefer reasoning that is consistent and can be applied to a specific set of rules.

Feelers prefer to make decisions based on situational factors. Each situation is weighed, and aims to create a greater harmony and consensus, for overall fit. This is different from thinkers, who are more concerned with ‘the truth’, give more direct feedback, and avoid inconsistencies.

4. judging vs. perception

This is an added component to Jung’s theory. It explains the way an individual interacts with the external world. According to MBTI, the individual can be identified either as a judger (someone who prefers to think or feel), or a perceiver (one who uses their senses or intuition).
(Wikipedia, 2017)

Curious to see your MBTI personality profile?
We got you covered.

Thanks to its popularity and widespread interest among the public, there are a number of test versions available. Some are longer, while others are shorter. Some are free, while others are extremely expensive, but those give you a more detailed explanation.

Here are just some of the quizzes to choose from:

1.  Jung Personality Test –
http://similarminds.com/jung.html

2.  Jung Typology Test –
http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality

3.  16 Personalities –
https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality/start.php

4.  Type Finder –
https://www.truity.com/test/type-finder-research-edition 

Pro:

There is definitely a strength in numbers, and MBTI is a perfect example of that.

By far, the biggest argument of why this assessment is so popular is because of the number of organizations and individuals who use it for their professional and personal matters.

With so much influence, this tool is invaluable for starting conversations around personality, which can be used to resolve any issues within teams and other working groups. Most people are curious to learn more about themselves, and this tool can give them some of the talking points around which they can build meaningful and constructive conversations. (Essig, 2014)

Con:

The assessment is not without flaws.

Here are the biggest arguments against MBTI:

1. Varying results

The biggest criticism of this tool is the inconsistency of the results. “Several studies, show that even when the test-retest interval is short (e.g., 5 weeks), as many as 50 percent of the people will be classified into a different type.” (Pittenger, 2017)

2. Missing reactivity measures

A key trait that is not measured by the questionnaire is “emotional stability versus reactivity — the tendency to stay calm and collected under stress or pressure. [Which] turns out to be one of the most important predictors of individual and group patterns of thought, feeling, and action, so it’s an unfortunate oversight.” (Grant, 2016)

3. All-or-none categories

The results pigeonhole individuals into one of the sixteen categories, but nothing in life is black and white. In certain situations individuals can become more extroverted than introverted. They might tend to judge more and use their thinking skills less, especially if in situations when debating or passionately discussing important topics.

Of course, some quizzes do show results as percentages, but still, “if the MBTI also measured height, you would be classified as either tall or short, even though the majority of people are within a band of medium height.” (Krznaric, 2013)

In fact, some even go as far to say that Jung himself might not have been pleased with this tool.

As Malcom Gladwell expressed in the New Yorker:

“Jung didn’t believe that types were easily identifiable, and he didn’t believe that people could be permanently slotted into one category or another. “Every individual is an exception to the rule,” he wrote; to “stick labels on people at first sight,” in his view, was “nothing but a childish parlor game.” (Baer, 2014)

B) BIG FIVE:
There’s another, more comprehensive, personality test available –  the Big Five.

This assessment does not divide people into personality profiles, but rather analyzes an individual around the most common traits found within the global community. The traits are easy to remember, as they spell out the acronym OCEAN.

It stands for:

1. Openness:

This describes an individuals love for novelty experiences. Those with high scores tend to be more creative. Individuals with lower scores tend to be more conservative, and prefer routines.

2. Conscientiousness:

It helps show someone’s tendency towards being more organized. Those with high scores are seen as motivated, disciplined and trustworthy. Lower scores indicate someone less responsible, and more likely to get distracted.

3. Extroversion:

It determines how cheerful and communicative a person can be. If someone scores highly on this, they tend to be social and very likely to accomplish their goals. Low scores indicate someone who is introverted, and more submissive to authority.

4. Agreeableness:

This trait describes how someone interacts with those around them. High scores depict someone warm and friendly. Those who tend to be more egocentric and suspicious (or even shy), tend to score lower.

5. Neuroticism:

Emotional stability can reveal a lot about the likelihood of someone developing moodiness and anxiety. High scores on neuroticism indicate someone who is less-assured, and low scores describe a person who is calm and confident.
(Westerhoff, 2008)

These categories serve as an umbrella that influences other personality areas, such as:

-Openness: imagination; feelings; actions; ideas; values, adventurousness, artistic interests, etc.

-Conscientiousness: order; self-discipline; competence; achievement-striving, etc.

-Extraversion: warmth; friendliness; assertiveness; activity level; positive emotions; etc.

-Agreeableness: trust; compliance; modesty; altruism; sympathy; cooperation; etc.

-Neuroticism: hostility; depression; impulsiveness; anger; vulnerability; self-consciousness; etc.

(ETS, 2012)

Those wishing to know their OCEAN results can take any of the following quizzes:

1. The Big Five Personality Test –
https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test

2. Another Big Five Personality Test –
https://www.psychologytoday.com/tests/personality/big-five-personality-
test

3. OCEAN Big Five –
 https://ocean.cambridgeanalytica.org

4. Ten Item Personality Measure –
 https://gosling.psy.utexas.edu/scales-weve-developed/ten-item-
personality-measure-tipi 
 (this one is available in different languages)

Pro:

Unlike the MBTI, which tries to distinguish types of personality, the Big Five understands that individuals possess certain traits, which need to be measured on a continuum. It is difficult to be only on one or the other side of the spectrum. For instance, saying that extroverts absorb energy when interacting with others, while identifying introverts as those who expend energy when interacting with the outside world is false, as both get energy from their interpersonal relations. (Grant, 2015)

“The Big Five structure captures, at a broad level of abstraction, the commonalities among most of the existing systems of personality description, and provides an integrative descriptive model for personality research.” (John & Srivastava, 1999)

Thanks to its scaling, versus profiling, type of nature, this personality assessment tool can provide a certain type of flexibility and versatility, which has enabled researchers to examine the influence of these traits on diverse areas of life: mental health, finances, relationships, etc.

And for the most part, these traits do yield long-term stability. Specifically, in a 9 year study, there was “moderate to high [stability], ranging from 0.73 to 0.97 in men and from 0.65 to 0.95 in women. The highest gender-equal stability was found for Openness to Experience and the lowest for Conscientiousness.” (Rantanen, Metsapelto, Feldt, Pulkkinen, & Kokko, 2007)

More specifically, men showed more stability for traits like: neuroticism and extraversion, while women showed more stability for traits like: openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Con:

Despite its stability and usefulness, the tool does have its flaws.

Here are a few:

1. Too big to fail

As mentioned earlier, the beauty, as well as the limitation of this tool, is in its big picture snapshot of personality traits. A good analogy to explain this is the categorization of living organisms into plants or animals. While it’s helpful for certain distinctions, it is not helpful for “value predicting specific behaviors of a particular individual.” (John, Naumann, & Soto, 2008)

2. Not so universal

While there has been evidence-based research to support the validity of the tool in over 50 countries, flaws in translation and applicability to non-English speaking cultures can be found. This results in skewed scores, as was demonstrated by the research conducted with a small South American tribe. (Dingfelder, 2013)

C) PEN Model

Developed by Hans Eysenck, this model looks at the biological factors that trigger or influence the personality. The three focal traits examined by this assessment are: psychoticism, extroversion, and neuroticism. (Waude, 2017)

The identified traits suggest the following:

1. Psychoticism

This trait is associated with psychotic episodes (such as breakdowns), as well as aggression. It leads to: hostile, reckless, inconsiderate, non-conforming, tough-minded and impulsive behaviors. Higher levels of testosterone are associated with higher scores in this area.
(SAPA Project Test, 1999)

2. Extraversion

Individuals with high levels of extraversion are more outgoing, talkative, and desire external stimuli. Higher stimulation usually occurs as a result of increased cortical arousal, and can be measured through: skin conductance, brains waves or sweating.

3. Neuroticism

Those with high neuroticism are more prone to depression and anxiety. It is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, as is responsible for the flight-or-fight response. This can be measured through: heart rate, blood pressure, cold hands, sweating, and muscular tension.

There are four possible quadrants that individuals can fall into:

a) stable extroverts – depicted by their talkative, easygoing, lively, carefree, and leadership traits

b) unstable extroverts – depicted by touchy, restless, impulsive and irresponsible traits

c) stable introverts – depicted by calm, reliable, peaceful, thoughtful and passive traits

d) unstable introverts – depicted by reserved, pessimistic, rigid, anxious and moody traits

Those interested in taking this assessment, can do so here.

Pro:

The model looks at both descriptive and causal effects. It also examines three specific dimensions, making it easy to understand. And has demonstrated test-retest reliability.

In fact, when specifically examining the pattern of moods, this assessment is able to predict certain outcomes. For instance, the questionnaire can predict significant associations with anxiety. “Focusing on the item of “Does your mood often go up and down?” showed a statistically significant association with melancholia and anxiety for patients with a positive score on this item.” (Bech, Lunde, & Moller, 2012)

Some researchers suggest that it is possible to discriminate between personality dimensions on the basis of genetic attributes. “For Extraversion items, we found both additive gene action and dominance. Neuroticism items appeared to show purely additive genetic inheritance. Items from both the Lie scale and the Psychoticism scale were influenced by shared environmental effects, but for the Psychoticism items these shared environmental effects appeared to be largely restricted to males.” (Heath, Jardine, Eaves & Martin, 1988)

Con:

Like most personality trait assessments, PEN is unable to predict future behaviors of an individual, even if their personality is better understood.

And there are certain limits. “Extroverts are less prone to conditioning. And this tendency increases with high N scores. Therefore, higher scores on E and N will be obtained by antisocial personalities. Neurotic and extroverted personalities are less susceptible to the socialization process, and hence they represent a vulnerable personality. Last, but not least, P always emerges as a distinctive feature of antisocial people. Several items of the P scale tap behaviors usually associated with crime.” (Rebollo, Herrera & Colom, 2002)

The findings demonstrate that, since personality traits are influenced by heredity, it is mainly through character and conditioning that a change can be developed in an individual. For instance, those who are more prone to fear and shyness, can be taught coping techniques that are more congruent with social norms, allowing for better communication and integration to society. Yet, the motivation for such change, and the desire for an expanded consciousness, can only come from the person them self.

Examples of Positive and Negative Characteristics

Now that we have a much better understanding of the differences between personality and character, we can dive deeper and examine the characteristics associated with positive and negative traits.

Here are some definitions that will help frame our discussion and provide a more clear context:

trait: the distinguishable quality of an individuals’ nature

characteristic: a distinguishable attribute that helps identify traits (ex: generosity)

character: a group of characteristics possessed by an individual (influenced by values/beliefs)

personality: the visible aspect of one’s character (influenced by genes, and mostly immutable)

The collective research on personality has led to findings that seem to suggest theories, which hold true for the majority of the tested population. They help clarify the behaviors that are more conducive to well-being. A majority of them help with cultivating resilience towards external stimuli.

Another way to interpret this is with the concept of mental strength. This ability is acquired by focusing on things under personal command, which reinforces the internal locus of control.

The behaviors that lead to mental strength are identified below (Morin, 2013):

1. Mentally strong people don’t feel sorry for themselves, instead they take responsibility for their own life.

2. They don’t give away their power to others, and thus maintain a control on their emotions.

3. Individuals with mental toughness embrace change, and are open to being flexible.

4. Control is placed on things under the person’s influence, such as their attitude.

5. Pleasing everyone is not a priority. While being kind and fair is important, making everyone happy is not.

6. There is a motivation towards making calculated risks.

7. Living in the past is no fun, instead mentally strong people focus on the present and make plans for the future.

8. Learning from past mistakes is important. Such individuals try to make better decisions in the future, and try not to repeat previous missteps.

9. They demonstrate an ability to appreciate and celebrate the success of other people.

10. They don’t give up after a failure, instead they keep trying until they get it right.

11. Mentally strong people tolerate being alone and staying in silence.

12. They don’t feel that the world owe’s them something, instead they create opportunities by utilizing their own talents and merits.

13. Real change takes time, and mentally strong individuals understand this, so they’re patient.

These behaviors are positively supported by characteristics such as:

Tenacity – not giving up when things get tough, or when problems arise
Confidence – belief in personal ability to find solutions to challenges
Optimism – the perception that the odds are in one’s favor
Adaptability – openness to new inputs and ideas
Self-Awareness – the ability to shift perspective
Reliability – following through with promises and goals
Responsibility – owning up to personal mistakes and errors
Well-being – making personal mental and physical health a priority

These and other characteristics help contribute to strong mental health.
(Half, 2016)

This supports the idea that openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness provide the foundation on which changes and challenges are welcomed, not shunned. In turn, this helps open doors to new possibilities and opportunities.

In specific, “those whose personality tendencies tend toward empathy, cooperation, trust, and modesty (Costa & Widiger, 2002) are found to be more intrinsically motivated and find enjoyment through efforts they exert in the completion of tasks or in problem-solving. Possessing a proclivity toward mastery-approach orientation, these individuals will not shy away from challenging situations, and their desire to tackle challenges is greater than their fear of appearing unknowledgeable in front of others. In other words, they approach challenges with the full intent of mastering them.”
(Watson, 2012)

The opposite of open-minded, calm, conscientious and agreeable characteristics, are those described by judgment, neuroticism, and an external locus of control. Some behaviors that fall in this category are:

1. Inability to accept setbacks.
2. Lack of clarity and decision making.
3. Low capacity for critical thinking.
4. Failing to build strong interpersonal relations.
5. Always staying in the comfort zone.
6. Helplessness and absence of persistence.
7. Tendency to lean towards pessimism.
8. Weak imagination, and an inability to visualize desired outcomes.
(Cardone, 2011)

Individuals who score highly on neuroticism, who display narcism, are emotionally distant, angry, hostile, inflexible and have inflated egos. These people tend to display the behaviors above. Yet one key differentiator to such negative traits, according to some studies, is self-control. “The more conscientious or prudent people are–no matter their other characteristics–the less likely they’ll be drawn toward harmful or illegal activities.”
(Chamorro-Premuzic, 2016)

Therefore, by increasing one’s self-awareness, individuals can spot their shortcomings and adopt habits to help balance out their personality traits. In turn, this helps them thrive in our ever-changing society.

A Take Home Message

The above research suggests that while there are certain things beyond our control, such as personality traits, as they are hereditary, the things we value and believe in can and do shape our character.

Expanding self-awareness is likely the first step in gaining control and understanding of life, and our role in it. So it’s no wonder that “the most successful people are the most self-aware people.” (Rosenfeld, 2016)

At the same time, understanding an individuals personality is helpful when identifying whether that person is a good fit for the company. And while there are many personality assessment tools to choose from, some are more consistent than others.

Cultivating an open, agreeable, and conscientious environment, whether in the office, or at home, can help create values that are more conducive and supportive of growth, and success. Using visualization tools to inspire, motivate and spark an interest for change is vital when aiming to align individuals and corporations towards a specific goal or mission.

Here is a great video by Dan Gilbert to help summarize this message:

While it’s true that our personality traits are hereditary, we do have the power to change. The idea that we are programmed for life and can’t change is not true. Our beliefs and values are not black or white, they adapt to our experiences, and are heavily influenced by the different interactions and situations we engage in.

“We are profoundly influenced by the situations that we are exposed to, our behavior does change from situation to situation, making personality less stable than we might expect. And yet personality does matter—we can, in many cases, use personality measures to predict behavior across situations.” (Introduction to Psychology, 2017)

That’s because time is a powerful tool. We are not static creatures, and just like nature, we are constantly changing. It is up to us to decide who we want to grow into.

The best way to do that is to take note of where we currently are, and then imagine where we want to go.

If change is the only constant, then the most successful people are those who control their own transformations.

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