Personality isn’t Permanent (2020) provides science-based actionable strategies to help individuals proactively create their ideal future selves.  The book details compelling accounts of real-life transformations as well as research to support the premise that one’s personality is not a fixed trait but rather –is fluid and transitory. The author, Dr. Benjamin Hardy (PhD) is an organizational psychologist.

personality isnt permanent summary

Benjamin Hardy “Personality Isn’t Permanent” Summary



[book notes] “Personality tests can be interesting, entertaining, and playful, yes. But there’s a dark reality about them, and the entire notion of “personality” in general, which limits—and in some cases ruins—the lives of countless people.”

“The mainstream perspective is that your personality is the real and authentic you. Your personality is “innate” and, for the most part, ”

“As a result, your job as a human being is to gather enough information and experience—to find the right personality test—in order to adequately “discover” your “hidden” personality.”

“Once you make this all-important discovery, you are then enabled to build your entire life around that personality. This life you build may not be the one you’d have chosen for yourself, but it’s the life you were born to live. It’s the hand you were dealt. To do anything otherwise would be disastrous, painful, and delusional.

Through all of this is the underlying assumption that you were born “hardwired” as the person you are, and you cannot change that.”

“This is why people seek to discover or “find” themselves. They are looking for who “they” are. For most, the notion that you can imagine and create yourself and your own personality almost sounds ridiculous, like magical thinking.”

“The argument of this book is that your “personality” doesn’t matter. Even more, your personality is not the most fundamental aspect of who you are. Instead, your personality is surface-level, transitory, and a by-product of something much deeper.”

“The most fundamental aspect of your humanity is your ability to make choices and stand by those choices, what Viktor Frankl called the last of human freedoms, “To choose one’s own way.” ”

“Choosing your own way has at least two key meanings: making decisions about what you want to happen and choosing how you respond to what does happen.”

Choosing one’s own way is what makes one human—and the more you own the power of your own decision-making, the more your life and outcomes will be within your control.”

“Facing the responsibility and freedom of choosing your own way is, indeed, scary. That fear and risk is why many people prefer a Sorting Hat to simply make the call for them, to decide what their destiny is.”

“It’s why people defer their decisions, potential, and identity to external measures. It’s much easier emotionally to have a box to fall back on —“Oh yeah, this isn’t comfortable, it must not be for me”—even if that box limits your freedom, vision, and creativity.”

“When you decide who you’ll be and the life you’ll live, you can have anything you truly want. You can become an outlier. You can have experiences that not only shock other people but shock yourself.”

“Is this really happening to me?” will become your common experience. Yes, it is really happening to you. Amazing, right? You’re moving forward and acting with boldness and intention.”

“Whatever you think of him, Elon Musk is focused on where he is going as a person, and it’s entirely in his future, not his past. His attention, energy, and narrative are based on the future he’s creating.”

“You don’t hear him talking about “the PayPal days.” You don’t see him limited by what he’s previously done or failed at. You don’t even hear him mention the past unless he’s explicitly asked about it.”

“This is how successful people live: They become who they want to be by orienting their life toward their goals, not as a repeat of the past; by acting bravely as their future selves, not by perpetuating who they formerly were.”

“In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig wrote, “Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not.” ”

“Let’s be clear: Deciding and creating a bigger future isn’t wishful thinking. You must face uncomfortable truths you’ve been avoiding, and take ownership over your life. What currently prevents your dreams from becoming reality is buried trauma keeping you trapped in your past, shutting down your confidence and imagination.”

“Sure, trauma occurs as major, life-altering events. But more often, “trauma” is planted in minor incidents and conversations that limit your view of who you are and what you can do, creating a fixed mindset. This can’t be ignored. It must be addressed.”

“Moreover, you have a social environment supporting your current or past-based identity and patterns rather than pushing you to evolve and become something more.”

If you’ve taken the personality craze seriously, then you have already forfeited your ability to choose. You’ve handed over responsibility for both your past and future to something outside of yourself.

“Instead of seeking change, you’ve limited your potential for change. Instead of focusing on what you can do to enhance your life, you’ve merely tried to discover or understand why you’re disabled or limited. Instead of improving yourself, you’ve submitted to simply accepting yourself for who you “really” are.”

In summary, Personality isn’t Permanent will provide you the science and strategy for never getting stuck in an identity or pattern again. You will learn the most direct, simple, and effective path to change and growth. It’s a proven, scientific process that you can master and apply to your life to ensure you are never trapped or defined by your past again.

Chapter 1: The Myths of Personality

In the first chapter, Benajmin Hardy addresses some of the pervasive yet destructive myths that surround the topic of personality. These include the myth that your personality can be categorized into ‘types,’ personality being innate and fixed, that it must be discovered and more. 

“The first myth of personality is that there are personality “types.” There is no such thing as a personality type. Personality types are social or mental constructions, not actual realities. The notion is a surface-level, discriminative, dehumanizing, and horribly inaccurate way of looking at the complexity of what is a human being.”

“There is no science behind the idea of personality types, and most of the popular personality quizzes were actually created by people who had no business trying to define people.”

“In the 2018 book The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, Merve Emre explains that personality testing has become a $2 billion industry, with the Myers-Briggs test being the most popular of them all.”

“Interestingly, neither Katharine Briggs nor her daughter, Isabel Myers, had any training in psychology, psychiatry, or testing. Neither ever worked in a laboratory or an academic institution.”

“Since access to universities for women was limited, the two developed their system from home, instead of in a lab or at a university. Katharine Briggs used her experience as a wife and mother, not science or psychology, to develop her theories in the early 1900s.”

“In social science, there are four standards to determine the merit of a proposed theory: Are the categories (1) reliable, (2) valid, (3) independent, and (4) comprehensive?”

“For the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the evidence says no, no, no, and no. The real lesson of the Myers-Briggs test is not some insight into your personality, but the incredible power of marketing. That’s the real brilliance of Myers-Briggs.”

“In a recently published longitudinal study spanning more than sixty years, researchers were flummoxed by what they found. The personalities of nearly everyone in the study were completely different than the researchers expected.”

“The study began with data from a 1950s survey of 1,208 fourteen-year-olds in Scotland. Teachers were asked to use six questionnaires to rate the teenagers on six personality traits: self-confidence, perseverance, stability of mood, conscientiousness, originality, and desire to learn.”

“More than sixty years later, researchers retested 674 of the original participants. This time, at seventy-seven years old, the participants rated themselves on the six personality traits, and also nominated a close friend or relative to do the same.

“There was little to no overlap from the questionnaires taken sixty-three years earlier. As the researchers state, “We hypothesized that we would find evidence of personality stability over an even longer period of 63 years, but our correlations did not support this hypothesis.” This is the way academics say, “We were totally wrong about everything.” ”

“… looking at human behavior, psychologists have come to agree that the best way to predict future behavior is by looking at past behavior. And for the most part, that perspective is validated over and over. Indeed, people seem quite predictable over time. The important question is, Why?

“A dominant view of predictable behavior is that “personality” is a stable “trait” that is for the most part unchangeable. However, as will be shown throughout this book, this explanation is a gross and inaccurate oversimplification, which ultimately leads to mindlessness, justification, and a lack of radical progress and intentional living.”

“Yes, people’s behavior can appear to be, and often is, predictable and consistent over time. But the reason for that consistency is not a fixed and unalterable personality. Instead, there are four far deeper reasons, which keep people stuck in patterns:”

“They continue to be defined by past traumas that haven’t been reframed. (2) They have an identity narrative based on the past, not the future. (3) Their subconscious keeps them consistent with their former self and emotions. (4) They have an environment supporting their current rather than future identity.”

These are the four levers that drive personality—and whether you realize it or not, you can control them. When you change, reframe, or manage these levers, your personality and life can change in intentional and remarkable ways.”

“Throughout this book, I’ll show you how each of these four levers impacts your personality and suggest strategies for leveraging each lever intelligently. You’ll be equipped to control these levers rather than be controlled by them, so you can become who you choose to be rather than what former experiences or “life” has led you to be.”

Chapter 2: The Truth of Personality
Chapter 3: Transform Your Trauma
Chapter 4: Shift Your Story
Chapter 5: Enhance Your Subconscious
Chapter 6: Redesign Your Environment


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