“You can’t run away from your DNA.”

“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.

Frau gestresst und in Panik isoliertIt’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.

© Jeanette Dietl – Fotolia.com

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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16 Responses to “You can’t run away from your DNA.”

  1. Pingback: Still Trying to Figure it Out | mag the millennial

  2. Mohammed Alnajjar says:

    The subject is intersting, Only if you run a round a tree with speed of light ,you can run away from your DNA, but Emotional Entelegenc can effectively paralise negtive effects of your DNA in your daily reactions( memorising , understanding , forgiving, justfying, reasoning ,passing ovr, giveing chance, forgeting, thinking logicaly , finding execuses for youself and others , participation, involvement ,self reviewing self confedence, self blaming, feeling responsible , giving up, supporting , love , feeling happy …….), and that is all what your carrier is all about , Thanks for Christina and for you


    • Thank you Mohammed. I love that idea of trying to escape it by running around a tree at the speed of light! And very much agree that Emotional Intelligence is one way to describe how to counterbalance the negative effects of our natural instincts.


  3. Dave Loewy says:

    Hi Mike. First of all a belated Happy Birthday, and congrats on discovering the green shoots of recovery down there in Devon. John Kabat-Zin was talking in London last week and as a former molecular biologist and introducer of mindfulness to the west he certainly has evidence that beliefs and attitudes affect how our genes are expressed. I believe the correct term is Epigenetics. As Christina says, both David Shenk’s ‘the Genius in all of us’ and Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ make the point very strongly. Will have to read Candice Pert now too!
    So, that means that you and I will have to find other excuses for our ENFP-ness!


  4. John Gough says:

    Great post Mike and a great title for a book! It is so true that you can get trapped in your comfort zone with your DNA. I have republished the article on my blog if that is ok?


    • gary says:

      Greetings Michael and the wider Blog community … I’m the Gary you referred to, and firstly: Happy Birthday! My colleague Alasdair forwarded your mention of me in your blog, and must admit, I have never “blogged” before and not certian this “post” will ever make it on your blog, but I signed up and look forward to the connection. Second, Many thanks for my “15 seconds of blog fame” ! You are free to use my quote, of course … an author unknown to me now once wrote, “true success is never achieved unless, and until you share it with others.” … I gained a great deal from our sales training session last week … even for an “old dog” (56 in June myself) … and more importantly, was inspired enough to “have that chat with my Boss” who convinced me to change my mind … your contribution to our group may have been greater than you realize. Truly, I mean’t my quote offering literally and from the heart … and no it wasn’t through a prism of negative traits … it validated what makes us unique … the good and bad, the best in us and the worse … and what ultimately when we embrace (accept) it in ourselves, it allows us to embrace others more effectively in our personal and professional lives for the greater good. Have a safe and blessed weekend ! Gar


      • Hey Gary, thanks for revealing yourself to the Blogoshpere! It’s a fun place, and I reckon you could have a lot to contribute here. I didn’t think at the time that you were using the phrase in a negative, defeatist way: as you say, it’s about embracing who you are and working with it. However, I think the phrase lends itself to a negative interpretation, which was what I was trying to counteract.

        Glad to hear you got so much out of our 2 days together.


    • Hi John. Thanks for reblogging it, no need to ask!


      • Gary says:

        Michael, no worries … It’s a facinating subject .. not a negative or positive thing per se but more about interacting effectively … Solo, small team, larger teams etc. I like the whole study of group dynamics … Understanding how they work, why they work … In comfortable situations, stressful situations and even emergency situations. It all helps to raise our awareness and sharpen our skills … Actually put some of our learning to practice the past several days … Working with a disparate group on an tight time line objective … I “pushed” the thing when needed, and conscientiously “pulled” myself back in the process … With some lessons learned in our training … I think it will close successfully next week!
        Will also keep those skills in mind next week with client meetings … Looking to bring the clients “up a level or two” … “Less accommodating, more assertive” … But will remember not to lose them! Gary


  5. Lita Cavanagh says:

    Great Post Michael. Many happy returns to you, hope you have a wonderful week ( I never celebrate for just one day)
    This post reminds me of a great book I read by Andrew Matthews ‘Being Happy’. He discusses the patterns we all live such as Drama Patterns, people who live these lives always have some drama in them, accident patterns, sickness patterns, job change pattern, broke pattern and of course the indespensible pattern when life cannot do without you. We can actually change the pattern we live by changing the road we travel on. If we decide to take the motorway all the time then we continue to live the same pattern. If we take the A road and slow down, we can, as you rightly stated, think more and change our pattern.
    I am posting the link to this book as I think it is a great read, and fun.


  6. davidhain says:

    Great post Michael, have ‘scooped it’ – it needs more publicity. Thanks Christina for tipping me off!


  7. Couldn’t agree more Michael, or maybe that is desperation on my part as I need to be rescued from my inborn preferences! Seriously though, the phrase “it’s all in the gene’s” is old hat now. Cellular biologists like Bruce Lipton and Candice Pert and others have shown that even DNA can be changed at the level of belief. The problem is you have to believe, belief can change DNA and for many thats just a belief too far…… boom boom. Great post as always. Thanks Michael!


    • Thanks Christina. I am using “DNA” in a non literal sense here to make my point. But now you are suggesting that in fact we can change our DNA at belief level. I didn’t even know there was a “DNA belief level” so am going to have do some more research. It sounds intriguing!


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