“You can’t run away from your DNA.” I’m grateful to Gary, whom I met on a course last week, for this pearl of wisdom. I’m not sure, but I think he was claiming to have coined the phrase. If so I’m going to have to steal it – it sounds like there is a book on this just itching to be written.
It’s obviously a catchy phrase, because I didn’t write it down at the time and yet it came back to me yesterday, one week later. Maybe that’s because it has a nice jaunty rhythm to it, and if you say it a few times aloud you (or at least, I) start to hear a bit of a cheeky little song coming on.
But I digress……. Now I have started to mull it over, and concluded that at first glance it’s difficult to disagree with it, but when you start to go deeper, maybe instead of promoting it, as I am now, I should be trying to stifle it at birth.
Gary’s phrase is saying that you are who you are, and no matter what efforts you make to compensate for your “DNA”, it will always get you. We were discussing Myers Briggs at the time, and the theory that no matter what training and experiences we might have in life, our core “preferences” remain constant from our mid teens onwards. There is even talk that at least one dimension of our Myers Briggs profile – the Extraversion versus Introversion factor, is inherited, and we are born with one of those preferences literally in our genes.
My concern is that the phrase is defeatist: it suggests that we are condemned somehow to our “DNA”, and that the bits of it that let us down are here to stay. That means, for example, in my case, lack of attention to detail when it matters, like not checking how many days the training course I ran this week was supposed to be – I was one day out! If Gary is right, I am always going to make that type of error, and I had better get used to the idea.
I must disagree. Our journey in life is partly about building our self awareness (knowing the implications of our “DNA”), and then exploring ways of compensating for it when we need to. My favourite animal springs to mind, the chameleon: we can learn how to change our colour to be the person we need to be in the moment. I can build my detail muscle, and I can learn to recognise when I need to use it. We should never use our “DNA” as an excuse: ”Sorry I’m late, I’m an ENFP.” That’s laziness and being inflexible – more of a stubborn, mule-like approach to life. I’m an Extravert, who used to talk too much in meetings and when negotiating. I have learnt how useful it is to say less (it allows you time to think, for a start). It doesn’t come easily, and it can take years, but it can be done.
So Gary, my song is coming along nicely. It goes like this:
“You can’t run away from your DNA
But you can learn to compensate
Each and every day.”
Please send me your recordings of this fine anthem to personal success, and we’ll get it released in time for Christmas.
Meanwhile, have a Happy Easter, those of you who are celebrating it.
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