Benjamin Hardy Says Personality Isn't Permanent

Kevin Cook
  • (0:45) - Imagine These 3 Goals In 3 Years
  • (8:45) - Willpower and Its Discontents
  • (16:20) - Research On Personality and Why It's Not Permanent
  • (21:55) - Your Identity = Self-Image + Biographical Narrative
  • (31:00) - Building Blocks of Benjamin Hardy’s Success
  • (35:40) - Creating Your Ideal Future
  • (40:55) - Crucial Importance of A Strong Morning Routine
  • Mind Over Money Archive Personality Isn’t Permanent


Welcome back to Mind Over Money. I'm Kevin Cook, your field guide and story teller for the fascinating arena of behavioral economics.

What if I told you that willpower doesn't work?

You don't have to take my word for it. Take it from a guy who became a top-ranked blogger, got his PhD, and adopted 3 foster kids-- all in just 3 years!

Imagine setting a goal to become one of the most-read authors on -- and actually achieving it in only one year.

That's what graduate student Benjamin Hardy did in 2015 as he worked on his PhD in organizational psychology at Clemson University.

And as a student of human motivation and productivity, Hardy gained extra of levels of both -- as fuel for his big goal to become a world-class writer -- from his three new foster kids that he and his wife decided to rescue from drug-addicted parents.

Those kids are some motivation. Benjamin became the #1 writer on Medium in 2016 and duplicated the effort in 2017, where his 200+ articles accumulated their first 50 million combined page-views sometime in 2018.

This prolific productivity is how I first noticed Benjamin Hardy's writing, as my Medium reading history in psychology topics must have recommended various articles in his new flood. But what really caught my attention about his articles were the mind-catching titles and success-oriented advice embedded in them.

As he told John Lee Dumas, host of the Entrepreneurs On Fire podcast, in a May 2017 interview, his first real traction came with a June 2015 article "8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M." Going somewhat viral stoked his belief that what he was doing in giving people solid, actionable advice for achieving their goals was really working.

Breaking Down Hardy's Success: Willpower vs. Creative Environmental Design

In September of 2018, Sarah Cy writing for did an analysis of Hardy's rapid success. In her article, "10 Clever Ways to Write Like a Medium Rockstar: Lessons Learned From an In-Depth Analysis of a Top Medium Writer," Cy wrote...

With over 200 thousand followers on Medium alone, Benjamin Hardy has published 261 articles (as of the publication of this article), averaging 19K claps per article (thanks, Excel).

The current featured article on Ben Hardy's Medium page is a September 2017 piece titled "This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week." It has 78K claps.

From all of this extreme productivity -- writing an average of 2+ articles per week about motivation and mindset principles, habits, and routines -- you might guess that Ben Hardy has cultivated extreme will power.

It wouldn't even be a stretch to assume that he turned his knowledge of the psychology of achievement into an iron will.

But actually, all this writing and research helped him produce his first major book titled, and I kid you not, Willpower Doesn’t Work. The subtitle is Discover the Hidden Keys to Success and it's a treasure of insight about how to proactively shape our environment in order to craft new behaviors and evolve into the person we want to become.

This is an exciting work, published in March 2018 by Hachette Book Group and with a little encouragement from his friend Ryan Holiday who is quoted on the cover "Change your environment, change your life. Ben Hardy's book is a prescription for excellence."

There's even a plug from Ariana Huffington, as Ben's first viral article got him a shot as a guest blogger on Huff Post.

In the podcast attached to this article, you can hear me talk to Ben about the research surrounding goal achievement and why consciously designing the context of your daily life is more powerful than fighting to change habits with willpower.

Designing Your Ideal Future and Self

I really wish I had discovered Ben's book two years ago when I was learning to piece together better routines and knowing that it had something to do with setting up better surroundings, including "easier-not-harder" steps to your daily goals.

But we did gain some great insight on this from Nir Eyal in my April interview about his new book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.

Recall that Nir and I talked about his success teaching social media magnets like Facebook FB and Twitter TWTR to be even more captivating of our time and attention.

But even in the context of tech giants vying for control of our minds -- see my January 2018 episode Apple AAPL iPhones Give Me the Feelies -- both Nir and Ben have proven strategies that anyone can adopt to win the attention and focus games, and more importantly, to win at achieving the things and quality of life experience that are most valuable to us.

So when I got a chance to interview Ben Hardy in May, I was all set for an hour-long conversation about willpower. Then I find out his next powerful book is on the way in June -- Personality Isn't Permanent: Break Free From Self-Limiting Beliefs and Re-Write Your Story.

Another mind-opening title with a powerful message, including Ben's philosophy on why those personality tests and "boxes" are not worth your time. We talked about both books and his growing family, with twin baby girls added in 2018. He also shared some of his tough family life growing up and even his current relationships with those suffering from addiction.

In discussing all things related to personality and performance, we got into some great discussions about the underlying identity aspects of individual psychology that create our self-image and perceived personality.

The results of our "personal narratives" can either limit our efforts and success, or free us to be and do more -- especially when we understand the power we give to past experiences, memories and traumas vs. the vision we hold of creating our ideal self and future.

Ben explains the powerful difference between these two ways of approaching your life and how to tip the scales in your favor for what you really want. He even gives an example of teaching children how to create their own powerful future visions.

In fact, his kids will probably become masters at this since their mom has starred as Mary Poppins at Disney DIS World and the family moved to Orlando recently. This was another item I learned from Ben's conversation with John Dumas a few years ago.

Not that you need to live by the Magic Kingdom to duplicate Ben's levels of focus and rapid success. But apparently, it doesn't hurt to know the savior of Mr. Banks and the governess of Walt's motto: "Dream. Believe. Dare. Do."

To learn more about Ben's new book, Personality Isn't Permanent, and all the bonuses you can pick up on the launch this week, go to He's got some great and short intro videos there that explain his practical approach to the psychology of motivation and achievement.

You can also go to this link from Penguin Random House to hear a great audio excerpt of the book.

Now, please join me in the podcast to discover the personality of Benjamin Hardy and what makes him so massively productive!

Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist for Zacks Investment Research where he runs the Healthcare Innovators portfolio.

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