Lately, the lockdown forces me to think a lot about myself. How was I at the beginning of my 20s? How am I doing right now? Today, we are going to talk about how you can only change yourself – but not other people.
We will change no matter what
Every 3-4 years, I visit Vietnam, the home country of my parents. And every time, I came to visit, everything changed. The last time in Vietnam, a soccer place near my grandpa’s home turned into a parking spot for cars and motorcycles. The small coffee shop, run by an old woman is now a fancy bubble tea shop, a hotspot for students. Change is inevitable. As long as the economy thrives to become bigger and better, change is its logical partner of it.
But what about you? How did you change over time? Job, appearance, and home do not count. Think more about your personality, your character, your temperament, your values, and your predilection. Compare with your current self. And most people will admit they change a little bit.
Here comes my follow-up question: How much do you think you will change in the next 20 years? And most people think that they will not change a bit. The reality is that we will change in the future as much as we have in the past. In what direction? That is unclear.
In my case, my personality will change. However, I do not believe it yet. Or in other words, I hope I do not change dramatically. I know who I am. In addition, I know what values I treasure and I know what kinds of people I do not like. I am an outgoing guy who loves and hates people to the highest potential that is given. That is why thinking about how I will improve unbelievably. I am quite happy with how I am. If my personality develops, I will not be me. I will be someone else. And this scares many of us.
How to influence our personal development
We will change in the future. Nevertheless, we can influence how we will change. Any kind of external influence that may change our personality can be minimized or maximized. If you have a traumatic event, you are the one who decides how much this event will have an impact on your life. The easiest example is your first heartbreak. I know some people whose girl/boyfriend cheated on them. Surprisingly, some of them came out without any traces of this betrayal. And some others changed completely.
The focus is one of the most important resources that will decide how much you change. And as it always be, changes come within ourselves.
We cannot change other people
Even though, time will change us all. We do not have an active role in it. Correctly speaking, we cannot change other people directly. Not even your partner or your children. The motivation for personal changes must come within. Neither external pressure nor logical argument will work.
That is the reason why I break ties with people who wants to change me. One of my companions at my local Starbucks where I work regularly. Only recently did I realize how he tries to do that. When I skipped one weekend at home instead of in the club, he tried to convince me: “Doesn’t it feel good to stay at home for once?”
Back then, I thought nothing meaningful behind his words. But now I realize he tried to change me to his liking. And this is unacceptable for me. Even though, he tried to do good. His behavior of thinking about what is best for me pisses me off. Nobody knows what is best for you except yourself.
So, try to avoid a situation where you have to change other people. Even when you are some kind of team leader. It is not your job to motivate them to do the job they applied for. One of Southwest Airlines’ guiding principles has been:
Hire for attitude, train for skill. – Southwest Airline
Summary – You can only change yourself – but not other people
I believe that change should always come from within. And I do not understand people who think otherwise. One guy once told me that motivating your colleagues or your trainees is necessary. But, I disagree. If you start to motivate people to do something you will waste your time in the long haul. Yes, it can be liberating when your trainee becomes a good worker because of you. But you won’t do them a favor. Earlier or later they will fall back or they are becoming more dependent on you. And who has time for that?
Even top-notch athletes do not have a ”motivator”. Their motivation is already fully developed. Coaches are only fixing their technical mistakes. All these motivational speeches from coaches are only happening in movies. Outside it looks the opposite.
In the end, it comes all back to ourselves how we will adjust. We will alter that is inevitable. But, will we shape how we wish to be or the opposite? This result is in your and only your hands. Make something out of it.