Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do People Change?

In our nine years of marriage you haven’t changed at all! - Mrs. Director

I took this as a compliment but I am not sure it was meant as one. But this is true not just for me, but for everyone, because people don’t change. Not really.

That’s not to say that people won’t change their opinions, pick up new hobbies, improve themselves, or put their life on a different tact. These things happen every day. But the essence of who someone is doesn’t change. If anything it becomes more pronounced over time.

I noticed at my 20 year high school reunion that people seemed to be “more of who they were”. After not seeing them for two decades it was easy to see that Bill was “more” Bill. Tammy was “more” Tammy. It was like their personality became distilled over time, becoming more concentrated and potent.

Even people who have radical changes in beliefs don’t change their underlying personality. Saul was a persecutor of early Christians, working tirelessly to root them out and have them jailed or executed. When he converted and became St. Paul, his purpose in life changed, but not his zeal towards his religion. He changed from one belief system to another, requiring a big shift in how he viewed the world, but even seeing God didn’t fundamentally change his personality.

The business book “Now Discover Your Strengths” uses this principle as a guide. It posits that we become “hardwired” as we develop, creating deeper and deeper “paths” for how we think and operate, and that as we get older those paths become even more rooted. No matter what you do for a living, no matter what political or religious opinions you may hold or even change, your personality is going to be wired the same way and will never change. And while I wasn’t high on the book itself, I did agree with this fundamental underlying theme.

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