Before we dive into the importance of personality development, let us first understand what personality really is.
The word personality stems from the Latin word persona, which refers to a theatrical mask worn by performers to project different roles or disguise their identities. So, at the most basic, personality is the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that make a person unique. It is widely believed that personality arises from within the individual and remains consistent, more or less, throughout a person’s life. There are many ways an individual’s personality can be explained— his influences, his experiences, his genetic make-up and his environment are just some of the ways an individual’s personality is shaped.
Characteristics of Personality:
So now that you understand what personality is, let us now discuss what the characteristics of personality are. Our personality traits and emotions play key roles as well as the following characteristics of personality:
- Consistency: There is usually a recognisable order or regularity to behaviours (shaped by what we have discussed above). Essentially, people act in a similar ways in the situations they find themselves in
- Psychological and physiological: You might think that personality is a psychological construct, but according to research, it is also influenced by biological processed and needs of an individual
- Behaviours and actions: So, does personality only influence how we respond in our environment? Sounds pretty intuitive, right? Wrong! In addition to influencing how we respond in our environment, it also causes us to act in certain ways
- Multiple Expressions: But there is more to personality than meets the eye. Apart from our behaviours, our personality also comes through in our thoughts, feelings, close relationships and other social interactions in our day-to-day lives.
Personality Development (Theories):
It is important to have some understanding of how the personality develops. There are a number of theories about how a personality develops and different schools of thought in psychology influence many of these theories.
- Type A: perfectionist, impatient, competitive, work-obsessed, achievement-oriented, aggressive, stressed
- Type B: less stressed, even-keeled, flexible, creative, adaptable to change, patient, tends to procrastinate
- Type C: conscientious, perfectionist, struggle to express emotions (both positive and negative)
- Type D: worrying, sad, irritable, pessimistic outlook, engages in negative self-talk, tends to avoid social situations, lacks self-confidence, fears rejection, appears gloomy, feels hopeless
Trait theories regard personality as a result of internal characteristics that have a genetic basis and include:
- Agreeable: cares about others, feels empathy, enjoys helping others
- Conscientiousness: high levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, goal-directed behaviours
- Eager-to-please: accommodating, passive, and conforming
- Extraversion: excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and high amounts of emotional expressiveness
- Introversion: quiet, reserved
- Neuroticism: experiences stress and dramatic shifts in mood, feels anxious, worries about different things, gets upset easily, struggles to bounce back after stressful events
- Openness: very creative, open to trying new things, focuses on tackling new challenges
These theories are largely influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud and focus on the influence of the unconscious mind on personality. These theories include Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stage theory and Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.
According to behavioural theories, personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioural theorists all but ignore the role of internal thoughts and feelings in shaping an individual’s personality.
Humanist theories emphasise the importance of free will and individual experience in the development of personality.
You might be asking yourself: “What good is knowing about theories of personality development?” And the answer is that personality assessments are often the first step to help people learn about themselves, their strengths, weaknesses and preferences even. Some assessments look at how your rank on specific traits, such as extroversion, conscientiousness or openness, while others could measure how specific aspects of your personality can change over the course of development.
These assessments could offer valuable insights into which careers you might enjoy, how well you are likely to do in those careers to name a few. But that is not all, personality type can also have a connection with your health, including how your manage your stress, how often you visit the doctor etc.
Importance of Personality Development
Have you ever felt (or do you feel) that you constantly needed to fill some void and no matter what you do, the void stays where it has always been. Truth is that for the most part, we never take a step back to see what is it that we are missing in our lives that will bring us fulfilment. Enter personality development! But it is so much more than you think. Personality development is more than working on talents you already possess, but is a part of enhancing your self-awareness. Even the most successful amongst us constantly strive for improvement (in fact, the more successful you are, the harder you work at it, think Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jack Dorsey to name a few). Learning is a continuous process (and should be) and doesn’t stop until you decide to stop it. Working on your personal development could seem time-consuming and even tedious at first, but there are many advantages to this:
- Provides clarity about your personal vision: Isn’t it true that when we plan the next day the night before, we end up getting a lot more done. Working on our personalities work in a similar way. Because we are actively working on ourselves, we keep gaining a better understanding of who we are; this helps establish clear goals and targets and finally with those goals and targets established, we have a better understanding of what we are to do to achieve those goals.
- Enhances current skill-set: Learning and personal growth are the cornerstones of personality development (it’s development so the hint is in the name). In today’s world where all the information is available at the click of a button, enhancing your skill-set has become easier than ever. From learning from your mentors, taking online courses to immersing yourself in the books specific to your domain, the possibilities are endless.
- Helps identify true potential: Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So, unless you really work on your skills and abilities, you will never really know what your true potential was. But when you do work on yours skills and abilities, you learn to push your boundaries and explore new things because you now know how to best utilise your knowledge.
- Allows you to take control: And in that sense personal development is empowering as it lets you take control of things. Since you know you are improving constantly, it become all the more easier to remain confident and motivated. This results in increased productivity and performance, which finally translates to the feeling of fulfilment (remember, this was the void we talked about at the beginning of this section!).
- Shifts focus on the bigger picture: What else happens when you are constantly focused on your own development? You acknowledge your shortcomings and hold yourself accountable for your mistakes. This is the level of self-awareness that helps you look at the big picture and allows you to be gentle on yourself when things are beyond your control.
Things you can do daily for Personality Development:
- Read, read, read: Read voraciously, especially about what you want to improve. Trust us, there is someone out there who has already written a how-to-guide for what you are trying to learn. You DON’T need to reinvent the wheel. It could be anything from learning to meditate, how to be more productive or how to design your own trading bot.
- Find a mentor: We cannot emphasise the importance of this step! Next to reading, finding a mentor is going to be most transformative for your personality development, so choose wisely! And a mentor could be anyone, from your peer, your boss or just somebody you look up to. The sole criterion here is that you can learn either directly, or indirectly, from the mentor you choose.
- Reflect at the end of each day: If you are really serious about personality development, then please do not take this lightly. You need to be constantly aware of the ways in which you can improve. And the only way is reflect and identify areas where you need more work.
- Create strong and sustainable habits: It’s your habits that determine the outcomes in your life, not the other way around. James Clear famously remarked in his book Atomic Habits that habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. This is such a powerful quote, so let that sink in for a minute. Did you know that according to researchers at Duke University, habits account for approximately forty percent of our behaviours on a given day. Your life today (and in this very moment) is a sum total of your habits. Bottomline: you have to put in place the daily habits that will allow the things you want to change to change.
- Find a buddy you can train with: You see your growth skyrocket if you can find a buddy who can push you. Spend time with people who have similar goals as yours and work out a plan to work on your goals jointly.
- Create a reward/punishment system: This does work for people who need to break bad habits. Sometimes reward (or a punishment) is the difference between immediate and rapid change and ongoing fleeting promises.
- Stay honest with yourself: If only talking could effect change, we would not need to write an article like this now, would we? This is the hardest part with people, and most of us can relate. It doesn’t take a lot, for example, to buy a self-help book, to carry it around and say, “I am working on being more present,” while constantly looking into your Instagram feed while texting your friends and telling them how you are trying to be more present. You do see the irony in this situation, right? If you are to truly work on your personality, you have to be brutally honest with yourself, at all times.
- Find role models to look up to: Could be anyone: maybe you admire Novak Djokovic’s grit and determination or you want to model your writing after John Steinbeck, it’s always helpful to look for motivation, inspiration wherever you can find. Just the discipline that some of the popular role models have is worth emulating.
- Measure your progress: The father of modern business management, Peter Drucker, said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” The only way to not veer off course is to find a way to measure your progress.
- Consistency is the key: Self-development is a long, arduous process that needs constant chipping away at the target; in this case the target is you. And while the process might be slow, it would definitely prove to be fruitful if you are consistent with it. It is a project that never gets done and in our view never should get done.
The importance of personality development is not limited to only one aspect or facet of your life but it enables you to succeed in all aspects of your life. It will enable you to improve your relationships in your personal lives, grow better in your professional lives and help you become a more confident individual by providing you with a better understanding of yourself. Personality development, however, is not a magic cure that will solve all your problems, but if you keep working on building your personality (as we have outlined in this article), then it will equip you with the tools to deal with the challenges in ways you can’t even imagine right at this moment. We wish you good luck on your journey!