In my journey as a speaker and trainer on Peak Performance Psychology, I am often asked "Can I change? I have been this way all my life. I am born an introvert. My habits are too ingrained for me to change." etc. etc. I can assure you from personal experience and having witnessed this happen in countless others that you can change, if you want it bad enough. All it takes is for you to decide. And this can happen in a split second! Remember the definition of insanity - "doing the same things, or being the same way, over and over again, and expecting a different result!".
I want to share a story with you. The late Lim Goh Tong is highly regarded as one of Malaysia's greatest entrepreneurs. Over the course of 60 years, his contribution to developing the tourism industry in Malaysia has been truly significant. Turning a virgin hilltop forest into a multi-billion dollar resort called Genting Highlands must be one of his greatest legacies.
It is tempting to think he got lucky. However, reading his life story, it is obvious he is a man who exemplifies many of the traits of peak performers with a high EQ.
His first trip to, what was then known as Malaya, was in 1937. Fleeing Japanese occupation of his homeland China, his boat took him to Kuala Lumpur, with $55 and his suitcase his only possessions. Working as a carpenter, his sole aim at the time was to feed himself and send his mother some money.
In 1940, he returned to China, concerned about his family's well-being. His visit was to last but 7 months. With a heavy heart, as the political situation tightened, he decided to leave China once and for all to set up roots in Malaya.
It was on the boat ride out this second time that he made a huge, conscious shift in his psychology. Deeply saddened by what he was leaving behind, he determined to put his heart and soul into his life in Malaya to justify the huge sacrifice he was making in leaving his family. Musing about his previous venture, he realised that if he was to get a different and significantly better result, he had to undergo what he calls, in his book, a "Personality Makeover". Instead of being "bashful and diffident", low in self-esteem, he decided to conquer his bashfulness and to master the skill of developing relationships with others.
What happened next on that boat is instructive of winners. He decided to turn thought into action immediately. When 2 strangers boarded the boat at a pit-stop, he approached them and introduced himself. He learned that this was not that difficult after all and after 5 hours, they were getting on like old friends.
His willingness to turn thought into action, to "walk the talk" despite "the initial discomfort" (with a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve for the long term) exemplifies a classic trait of winners, and the value of Self-Awareness. This experience was to hold him in good stead, as he overcame tremendous adversity over the following decades. His skill of fostering positive relationships which started that fateful day on that boat ride out of Chine, has enabled him to leave a lasting legacy.