How can you become your best possible self? Andrea interviews The Possible Self author, Professor Maya Djikic. Learn two false assumptions that will change how you tackle self-improvement, plus, the “Wheel of Self” model that will help you make real change and achieve your goals.





At Talk About Talk, we spent a lot of time thinking – and talking – about our strengths and our passions. Particularly when it comes to our respective personal brands. We focus on our strengths and our passions, because these are the things that we want to reinforce. But what about our development areas? Or “”areas of opportunity””? Our – dare I say it – our weaknesses?

Recently I had the privilege of being invited to a book talk at the University of Toronto where Professor Maja Djikic spoke about her new book, called the possible self – a leaders guide to self development. This is a book focused on how to overcome your weaknesses.

It was standing room only, and notably, a significant proportion of the audience was comprised of her faithful and loyal students from various programs at the Rotman school of management at the University of Toronto.

Just a few minutes into professor Djikic talk, I decided I need to interview her for a Talk About Talk podcast episode. And here we are.

In this episode, you’re going to learn, about 2 widely-held false assumptions that many of us hold when it comes to self improvement. You’ll learn what the research tells us, and what Professor Djikic recommends we do instead of relying on these false assumptions. Here’s a hint: she calls it the wheel of self.

Welcome to Talk about Talk podcast episode #157 “Self-Improvement & The Possible Self with Professor Maja Djikic”. In this episode, you’re gonna learn how to step it up in terms of your self improvement efforts.

In case we haven’t met, my name is Dr. Andrea Wojnicki please just call me Andrea. I’m your executive communication coach. I coach executives like you to improve your communication skills so you can communicate with confidence and clarity, establish credibility, and ultimately achieve your career goals. Sound good? If you want to learn more, check out the website, There are lots and lots of resources for you there. There’s one-on-one coaching, boot camps, online courses, information about corporate workshops… I recognize that people learn in different ways. Are you an auditory learner? You’ll also find the archive of this bi-weekly podcast. And while you’re on the website, I really hope to sign up for my bi-weekly email newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get free communication coaching from me in your email inbox, plus some behind-the-scenes insights, information about the most recent podcast episodes, and upcoming programs. So please sign up for that newsletter.

Ok, let’s get into this. I’m sure you want to hear from Maja. Here’s how this episode is going to go. After I interview professor Djikic, we’ll get right into the interview. Then at the end I’m going to summarize with the three learnings that I want to reinforce based on a conversation. Three things that I hope you’ll take away and that I hope will help you in your quest for self improvement.

Now, let me introduce Maja. Maja Djikic, Ph.D. is a personality psychologist specializing in adult development. She is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management, the Executive Director of the Self-Development Laboratory, and the Academic Director of the Rotman Executive Coaching Certificate program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Her research has been featured in over 50 media outlets (including The New York Times, Salon, Slate, Scientific American Mind), in 15 countries. Thinkers50 has selected Maja as one of 30 thinkers around  the world whose ideas have the potential to shape the future of organizations. Her first book, The Possible Self: A Leader’s Guide to Personal Development, was published in March 2024 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 

Now, here is Maja. And if you’re watching us on YouTube, this interview was recorded in her office at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management.



AW  00:05

Thank you so much, Maya for joining us here today to talk about your book, the possible self.



My pleasure, thanks for having me.

AW  00:34

So as I was telling you, I really enjoyed your book launch talk, and I was sitting amongst many of your adoring fans, your adoring students. And it was, it was really a moment that that was very inspiring, I would say. And I immediately went home and asked if I could interview for this. So I’m really excited to be here. And I wanted to start by talking about the foundation of your book, which is really about correcting to false assumptions, as far as I understand, right, so one of them is that we are stable and static or fixed. And the second false assumption is that we can change through sheer willpower. So I thought these two assumptions would be a great place to start.



Absolutely, I think this idea that personality is stable, I think we, the reason why we have it is because when we’re children, and young people eat, develop, and grow, and so on, and I think what happens to us then we end up in a in a life, if you will, of an adult. And that life is mostly focused on holding, you know, all the pieces of the puzzle, you know, all the balls in the air at the same time, perhaps you’re a family or you have a particular job. And oddly enough, everything in our environment is meant to protect the stability of that life. On the other hand, and so we think that we’re stable, we will look at the stability of our life, we don’t notice that slowly, we get a little bit more stagnating or that we don’t feel as excited about life. But we noticed that oh, well, I’ve been doing this for 15. This is just who I am. I’m the kind of person who comes home and turns on TV, or I’m the kind of person who always goes out after work for drink, or, and so we start having these inner dialogue about who we are. And because this person, I think of it as a box that we are, because that’s the box that everybody else expects you to be. We don’t bother challenging whether or not we are this we don’t veer out because it’s kind of dangerous to explore outside of the box internally, you can destabilize relationships. You can even destabilize yourself by saying, Oh, wow, maybe I’m not an introvert or maybe I’m not an extrovert. So I think this is one thing, right? And unfortunately, even scientists up to, you know, early 2000s, were telling us, oh, no, you know, you’re all done by the time you’re 20 or even by the time you’re seven if you’re a psychoanalyst. Right. Right. So that’s one assumption that I think has been very, very destructive for us as adults. And doesn’t reflect how we grow. You No, all the way. Oh, until our very


AW  03:20

last. Yeah, so I was thinking of it in the context of of like Carol Dweck, fixed and growth mindset. It’s a little bit related to that, but it’s different also, right because she’s talking about maybe more aptitudes right or learning new skills as opposed to having an aptitude like a strength or a weakness or a propensity to act in a certain way like for example based on the you know, the five personality types and types that we have right so



countback is talking about our inner beliefs about whether some skill is movable right not so as your intelligence movable is any skill that you have movable? Yeah. Which skill is a little bit different than broadly who we are, right? Okay. And so, what we’re talking is about broad ideas like, Who is this person I am and by the time you put a sentence, I am X together, you have already moved on beyond it. So, any sentence that we can put together that is I am x is not correct. So, we need to know that and instead of identifying with I am x, it can be I am becoming or I am moving in this direction. Or this is who I was, you know, in my 20s I was an extrovert and then in my 30s I was an introvert and then in the 40s I discovered that’s a much more realistic and accurate story about our lives than I am and then put in a trade.


AW  04:51

Oh, my goodness, my brain is exploding right now. As you can tell by the look in my eyes. Like wow, okay. So it is about a narrative and being open minded. Right? Yes, not being fixed to use those words, not



thinking any story you tell about yourself as you, it’s almost like, Okay, I’m telling you my story. I know it’s a story, I’ve put it together from some old pieces of evidence. And it’s, it can be a useful story because people ask you who tell me about yourself all the time. But notice how you tell a different story when somebody is interviewing you for a job. And when somebody’s sitting with you on a date, you wouldn’t tell the same story because you implicitly understand what they’re asking you something different. So you put together out of their question, you put together a little story of yourself and offer to them, it’s okay, do you think it’s appropriate for the situation? But that’s not your totality? Our story is not who we are.

AW  05:48

So you said, I think of us as a box. Is that box constantly evolving? We



are not a box, I think most people think of them size as a box. It’s almost a box, they construct in their own mind, okay, to just feel a place of safety, versus we’re actually never like a rolling ball. We’re just like, oh, cool, we were rolling along and, you know, changing and picking different things along the way. But we’re not, you know, and we’re not something that you can point a finger to, it’s like, I am always this, right, that would be unnatural, given that we are live beings that are continually growing and developing.


AW  06:30

So when I’m coaching executives on their personal brand, or their professional identity, I introduced them to a bunch of I call them strategic principles of personal branding that are related to this exercise. And the third one is your personal brand. Not only can but should evolve. And this is actually the one where people are like, well, they’ll say to me, Andrew, I need some help. I think my personal brand needs to change. I’m like, Hey, stop. First of all, good. Yeah. Yes.



So here’s an interesting thing, I think, what you’re called personal brand, which is I in my kind of filters in my mind, it’s basically stories we tell to our employees, or colleagues or people in our work life about our what is the value that we contribute potentially, to, to their workplaces? Yeah. So that story needs to evolve, not just because we evolve, but also because the other needs of these professional spaces and workplaces evolve. So in a sense, I imagine when you are constructing a personal brand, it’s always a combination of I have these skills, and these abilities and this hunger for learning or whatever other things you think you have that will be useful. And this is how it fits in the things that you need. Right? And so that low match will always be I imagined changing. Yes. Yeah. And not just because we change, but also because their needs change. Their


AW  07:57

needs change. It also depends on the context and the people with whom you’re communicating. And the world’s changing, technology is changing. Plus, we’re getting older, our families are changing, right? This is what i



Everything is always changing. Okay. Okay.


AW  08:09

So what about the second false assumption about us achieving maybe improvement, or personal development through willpower?



I think, unfortunately, it is a leftover of this very old fashioned idea that anything that’s worthwhile to achieve has to hurt. So it has to hurt it has to feel. And people say, Well, I, you know, they say, Oh, I’m at work, and I’m not enjoying and then it’s like, well, it’s work, what do you expect? And I think there’s something about the way that we look at adult life and work that it’s, it’s supposed to be paying, you’re supposed to force yourself to go to it. And oddly enough, we ascribe we ascribe value like a very high value in terms of integrity, we say, here’s the kind of person who even though you hate your job, and you just you know, you go there anyway, and you make yourself and you do it, and you go home and and tomorrow, again, you do the same thing, because this is just the kind of person you are. So we we tend to somehow glorify stability, like, like just not change in being fixed in place. And we call it integrity. But really, integrity is something very different. So it’s not it doesn’t require integrity, to refuse to change.


AW  09:31

So I’ve had conversation with some people about this and I say be careful you’re not celebrate celebrating being a martyr. Yes. Right. Yes. That’s I thought you were gonna say that I was



waiting for it. It’s absolutely because just because we’re suffering doesn’t mean that we are growing and developing in the direction that of our potential. I think when it comes to martyrdom, I think some people you know, they look at the book and the focus that I have on under Standing your wants and fulfilling them and say, well, that’s a very selfish North American. That’s not how we live. And what would people feel, you know, if they would they feel to understand is at the very core of our wants are not just individual, they’re also social ones. It’s a want to be together to build something interesting together to have relationship. Yeah, all different kinds of relationships, to be in communities to build extraordinary achievements in large groups, right? You know, buildings in crow cathedral, like, that’s a lot of people working towards the same aim. Right? Right. So we have very social ones. But the problem is that it’s if you’re very unclear, if you think that your wants don’t count for anything, don’t lead you anywhere that they’re just not so good. You’re gonna give yourself your life over to other people’s wants. And when you do that, they’re going to tell you what you should want, when should you want it, what kind of life you should lead. And the if you let yourself be led by that what will happen to you is that people will be clapping, and saying, Oh, wow, incredible. You’ve just given your life to x. You did not, for one moment, ask yourself what you want, right? But inside of you, there was a potential that potential that was left unfulfilled is going to cry for you. Because


AW  11:19

Oh, well, you’re going to be quoted on that.



Because it’s there waiting for you. We are all have our unique set of things. It’s like we’re all unique pieces of puzzle and the world needs our uniqueness. It doesn’t need a slotted piece that is always the square always a peg, it needs our unique pieces. So when we don’t become these pieces, we deprive the world of what we could have done it. You’re really


AW  11:49

speaking my language here. You’re reminding me of something, I heard a quote. It was in a Tim Ferriss podcast recently, he was interviewing a successful tech entrepreneur, who made this quick comment, and I rewound it, and I listened to it again. And I was like, wow, he is bang on, he said something like, we’re all very self absorbed. And if you think about it, we kind of have to be because we need to survive. We’re protecting ourselves. We’re thinking about ourselves, we’re maybe even selfish. And he said, How ironic is it then? That we really don’t know ourselves? Yeah, right. That’s



very good. Because what he’s pointing out is that we’re actually not self absorbed, because we don’t understand we are, we’re absorbed, how about that we’re absorbed in a cultural dynamic off, whatever it is, you have to make money, you have to be successful, you have to look like this. You have to have this button. So we’re not actually self absorbed. We’re just absorbed by random movement, right?


AW  12:51

If we’re reacting to that stimulus, as opposed to starting with ourselves. That’s right. Wow. Okay. So at your book talk, I was the one that actually asked the question of comparing your insight about overcoming or the the false assumption that we change through willpower and comparing that to James clears notion of atomic habits. Can you explain to the listener vote that



a fantastic question, even at a talk I said, it was fantastic question is too bad, I didn’t have a bit more time to talk about it. So here’s the I mean, who am I to disagree with somebody was selling millions and millions of books. But here’s something in your own experience, I’m sure most people have tried to force themselves into another way of being. And if you have something, if you have a developmental wheel that is moving naturally, let’s say you’re introducing a new hobby, and you’re like, Oh, I’m interested in that, then the habit route can work. Because basically just provides a bit of a direction, a little bit of a nudge, and the whole wheel is moving, your motivation, your emotion, everything is moving in one direction, right. But if you have all parts of the wheel pushing you the other way, and you’re trying to use the willpower to push yourself into some, you know, you want to change a food habit, or you want to exercise that’s the obvious one is very obvious ones. And that is not something a habit can do. Right, right. That’s not the route. Why because something that’s stopping you from it is deep, and you can forcing yourself means like pushing one part of the wheel one way, while the rest of it is going the other way. You’re basically breaking yourself. And, of course, eventually you will fail because you’re breaking yourself. You’ll run out of willpower.


AW  14:45

This relates to cognitive dissonance, too, right? Like I am all these things and I’m trying to be I’m all I’m all xx xx and now I’m trying to be y. Yes,



right. I’m forced. It’s not that naturally I’m forcing myself. It is not about not having a cookie you want It’s about not wanting a cookie. And what true transformation self transformation does, when you move or parts of the week, it makes you not want a cookie, it makes you want to move your body, not try to move your body force yourself to move your body.


AW  15:16

Can you illustrate an example maybe of how James clear might attack this, so imagine you or I, or whoever was seeking to lose weight or lower their blood sugar, whatever, right for their doctor told them to and they said, Okay, I’m committed to



1%. So I would say, let’s cut down your sugar level by one spoon for Wolf, whatever it is that you put in a cup of coffee, and then so that’s what you would do, if you would just it would be a little bit and that, you know, after, it would be basically incremental. But at every step, every that incremental 1% Step, you’re fighting yourself. And even when you finish, the idea here is that overall, when you get there, then you’re going to stabilize yourself into that habit. And that you won’t want that sugar anymore. But as millions of you know, you will still want it. Right? Right. And so you can get yourself, you know, I completely understand this kind of incremental mindset, it’s, what you’re doing is leaving yourself behind, you’re forcing this behavior, that’s supposed to be good, but you’re not taking the rest of the self along. And the reason for it is that the rest of the self is saying, no, no, no, no, no, and it has its reasons. And unless you address these reasons, you that you will always be fighting you’re so this


AW  16:42

is the right time for us to introduce the wheel of possible self right? Can you so maybe using the same example for how would the wheel of self help someone who had similar instructions from their doctor and desire to make a change? So



for example, you take something like, you’re, you’re diabetic, and you need to cut down the sugar. And so you start so the wheel of self has five parts. So it basically says that you’re not just behavior, also your motivations, your emotions, your thoughts and your history of neural pathways. Okay, so now, you know, here’s the behavior that you want change. But you started with the motivation. And so that, is that, okay, you have you want sugar. But the question is, what do you want in sugar? We don’t just want sugar, we want something in it. So what is it for us? Is it a sense of comfort? Is it a sense of warmth? Is it a sense of nostalgia? Sometimes people tell me when I have a coffee, nice sweet coffee with milk, it just gives me that feeling of peace. So see, we want something that’s not as simple as I just want a sugar, we’re looking for something. This is why you let’s say that you don’t put that sugar. So the emotion that’s going to come up is going to be restless, uncomfortable. And so with the wheel you’re looking for, what is that emotion? Is it anxiety? Is it sadness? It? Does it cause frustration? Does this cause fear? What is it? What is your emotional system signaling to you about that? And then from there, you move on to so once you find out a little bit about emotions, you know that basically what is causing them is ways of looking at the world. So it’s like I am restless, because I want comfort. I want to feel good about myself, but I don’t. So I put a little bit of extra sugar in my coffee. And it returns my day. And it makes me feel at peace about the fact that I’m not the person that my mother wanted me to be or that I’m not the person that I thought I would become.


AW  18:47

Do you see? Yeah, absolutely. It’s very visceral. It’s very visceral, visceral. Yeah.



And so what are we doing? We’re going backward in that we all the way to your history, which is your past pathways neuropathy. So you carry your history in your body. And you can go from just the construct about the world, which is that okay, well, maybe I’m not succeeding as I thought I would take it can take me straight to the memory of let’s say, I don’t know not being able to do my homework and feeling very, you know, not smart and I feel very restless and going and getting some Nutella and eating some nutella because it made me feel good in the moment. Okay, so I have this moment. So this is the history history is that I don’t feel like I feel unsettled about how smart I am. I call myself through sugar. And then that calm become, that becomes a way in which I call myself and so all of that needs to change. Wow, these neural pathways that bring you calm, that neuropathy says maybe you’re not as smart as you thought you are. Or maybe your teacher told you you’re never gonna amount to anything or maybe some But he made fun of your body when you were seven year old or whatever are kid. All of these things that you carry with you they need to be, shall we say, reprogrammed, you need to override these experiences new early. And oddly enough, that doesn’t take day by day for so many days. It can be couple of days. But you need to know what you’re doing with these techniques.


AW  20:23

So would you recommend that if somebody wanted to make a significant change how redefined significant change that they almost use a checklist of this wheel of self and say, how the motivations work in here? How does my history how does the motions fit in here, and then work really hard to do the work. And then when you when you’ve completed or filled in the blanks, I guess for the elements in the circle may have a higher likelihood of being successful.



Here’s another way that you can think of it. Let’s say, you just said I want to make a change. I want to start running as of tomorrow. And every morning, I want to run. I say try it a week later, I’ll be asked you, are you running every day? And if you told me no, I’ll send you right to the wheel. Yeah. Because if you’re excited by it, if your emotions are positive about it, if you can’t wait to get out there, well, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, you’re going to find ways and everything in you is going to be doing this. But if you say I want this, and then you don’t it also means that you don’t want it. And the job of the wheel is to find why you don’t want it and remove the reason.


AW  21:30

Okay. So this is a nice segue into this point that you made in at the at the book launch and also in the book very, very poignantly. And I hear this from my clients sometimes, too. It’s the small things that people say sometimes that have such a huge impact on who we become. Yeah. Which is crazy, right? But you alluded to it, and yeah, in the example that you were just giving, particularly



if you get this comment when you’re younger, or if you’re in destabilized, because our emotional system works, that when when we are destabilized emotionally, neural pathways build faster. So if you dysregulated me, if you make fun of me, and then sit in on top of it, say something to me, that’s gonna stay burned, etched into my memory. So I call in the book that significant defense, which is a little bit different than like, very extreme trauma, but it’s still functions in the same way, which is that it stays there as kind of this free floating set of sensations in you. Yeah, that activates every time somebody brings up the topic.


AW  22:33

And we look for reinforcement of our self beliefs, right? I mean, same with others, we look for reinforcement, or signals that reinforce our beliefs about others as



well. So if let’s say, you have a friend betray you in third grade, and you have this kind of belief or lens that clamps on that says, I can’t trust people again. So what do you do that and then every new person you meet is like, I can’t trust you, and I can’t trust you. And if you want a relationship, guess what, you’re not going to pick trustworthy people, because they don’t confirm your idea about people you pick on trustworthy people to confirm to you that they cannot be trusted. And there we have that self fulfilling prophecies that can be that can lead us into trouble.


AW  23:18

So do you have any poignant, illustrative, illustrative examples, that maybe some of your students or maybe through interviews that you learned were in an executive context, right, where people were maybe seeking to improve their, their executive presence, they’re speaking or something,



I, you know, what, I have a lot of examples like, so I put some of them in the book. So I can kind of, I can, let me see what I can bring up. So I find inevitably, when somebody comes with inability to feel comfortable in public, inevitably, they don’t feel comfortable in private. So it would be something like, you know, I want to live, let’s say, my parents don’t approve off. And therefore, I feel like I can’t be myself, I feel like I should really respect them follow what they’re saying. But on the other hand, I also want what I want. And so when you put me in public, you’re basically putting in public, the splintered version of me, which is me fighting against myself. And what I find interesting for leaders in particular is this. You know, when you’re a leader, you’re asked to go out there and you kind of open the door to your heart, you’re just get up there and you open the door and if you don’t open the door, you will look very stiff. Yeah. And non transparent and non authentic. So I tell leader, so Okay, so let’s say that you want to be authentic. You go up there and you opened the door to yourself, but what’s in there is a mess, confusion, competing war, like you haven’t sorted yourself out and I said, we’re not doing anybody a favor. I tell them Look inside, just tried to sort yourself out to try to understand yourself, try to grow parts of yourself that are under grown, and then open the door. So that the things that people can see become inspiring. And nobody wants perfection, we don’t want to see perfection. The image I always have is, there’s a ancient Japanese art, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s called Art of golden repair, where they have these beautiful, they have a ball, let’s say, a clay pot. And if they break it with the artists, they pour gold into the seams to hold this ball back together. And the balls are incredibly beautiful. Yeah, so I see people like that. So we’re all a bit broken, okay, we’re all a bit of a mess. We’ve all had things and, and working on yourself is like pouring gold in the seams of our broken,


AW  25:56

what a beautiful metaphor.



When you that’s what people want to say they don’t want to see perfection, because they’re not perfection. And when they see you and they think you’re perfect. They’ll say, Well, that’s not who I am, I guess good for you. But when you see both your brokenness and your growth and development and the way that you put yourself together, it gives them hope.


AW  26:16

So do you share with your students and your readers? Some of your own? Oh,



yeah, you know, what cracks? Oh, yeah. Build? Oh, yes. I, I’ll bring this one about. Presentations, right. So I used to be the most terrible, terrible teacher and speaker, it would plunge me into such fear and state of existential distress, that I almost cry, like, I could not even introduce myself, right? I would I when I was in my PhD, and I would start teaching, I would I would be in blisters, like I would have physical reaction to wow. And it was such an extreme state that somebody could say, I could have easily said, You know what, this is just why I’m the person who’s very much an introvert. I don’t need this. I don’t want this. This is not my strength. This is not why. If you had, if you had shown me that video of myself, at whatever, when I was 25. And then you fast forward 15 years. Okay? I would the 25 year old version wouldn’t believe that I could get so much joy. And it would that is my life’s potential to teach. Yeah. Right, if I got stuck in that story. And if I got stuck in that pain, I, you know, the best of me would have been left behind. And so this idea that we you know, we always really focus on the strengths, then to me becomes very fraught, because if you focus on your strengths, I would have given up any interaction Republican factor research lab and never, you will never hear from him again. And, but there is something pulling in, we need to hear the thing that is pulling us and saying, okay, work on yourself, try to sort it out, try to figure out why is it that you get sued? What prevents you from being yourself right in public? So for me, and I always tell my students, I mean, if I can stand in front of you like this and talk like this, trust me, you can my


AW  28:26

you absolutely commanded the room at your book talk. I mean, phenomenal. I



was the same person. Yeah, it was in blisters that 25 or 25, from stress about being in front of others.


AW  28:40

I love that story. There’s hope for all of us, there’s



hope for all of us. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for all of us. That’s awesome.


AW  28:47

Is there anything else you want to add about the possible self before we move into the three rapid fire questions?



No, use it you know, it can inform you but you can also use it to work on yourself and only you know, when you’re ready. So just use it however you want either just to read and inform yourself to understand yourself just a little bit better and others or to really do the deep work,


AW  29:10

right? So someone in other words, someone might pick it up, not thinking about a development, specific developmental need that they have. And someone else might be, there’s a specific thing I want to work on him. This is going to help me figure that out. Okay. Okay, you ready for the three questions? So this first question is a little bit meta given the conversation that we just had, so I can’t wait to hear how you answer it. Are you Maya an introvert or an extrovert?



ambivert. So, so both when, depending on time to day, the mood Okay,


AW  29:47

your answer surprised me. I thought you you would say I’m not allowed to say I am.



You’re asking about the past who knows what’s going to happen in the future? Okay, okay. Okay. So I am is the question about So I have been I have been introverted. I have been extrovert, I’ve been all sorts of things.


AW  30:03

Most of us are ambiverts. Right. I ask it I tell people that I asked it that way to be provocative. Yeah, right. You know what the most common answer is, is, I am a high functioning introvert. I hear that all the time. And then I’m like, I want to educate them about how introvert introversion is not a bad thing. It’s just introverts are the best list.



It’s so funny, high functioning as if it’s a disease. Exactly.


AW  30:25

Yeah. Wow. Okay, second question. What are your communication? Pet peeves?



People who don’t want to communicate? So we did, like, I don’t want to talk about it. I mean, we need to really respect when people don’t want to talk about it. But if somebody really likes talking about things, I find that difficult, it constrains the relationship in a way that I find very difficult.


AW  30:52

Yeah. So in professional context, sometimes Oh, and in personal context, right? People



just don’t like let’s say, you could have a colleague who gets upset and about something that happened and you want to fix it, or you want to at least ask about it. And they’re like, oh, I have no idea what you’re talking about, or in personal reads like, oh, I don’t want to talk about this thing. And that, you know, we need to respect people don’t have to talk to us if they don’t want to, but it makes it difficult. Yeah.


AW  31:17

To keep Yeah. Oh, given your background on kind of optimizing yourself. Yes. I can see that. That must drive you crazy. Oh, you need to talk about it. Even just internally, if not with others.



No. And also, it’s like when people don’t want to develop themselves. Like, what your potential is calling for you. I feel sad, but everybody has their you know, I have to leave. It’s different people’s paths. I have to leave it. Yeah,


AW  31:42

we need to be respectful. Yes. Interesting. I’ve not heard that answer before. That’s amazing. Okay, last question. Is there a podcast or a book other than your own, that you find yourself recommending the most lately? Yes,



I always recommend this one book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Vander Kolk fantastic book about trauma that I think helps people understand just what it means like that they carry their past with you, that you carry your past with you and that it’s continually influencing you and if you want it, you to influence you a different way that you need to do something inside of the body.


AW  32:18

So it’s it’s mixing I have I haven’t read the book. I’ve heard of it many times. Fantastic. But it’s about like merging of trauma. It’s trauma, physiological response and emotional response and all that. Okay. Anything else you want to add?



No. What thank you for fantastic conversation. Thank


AW  32:35

you so much for your time, and I’m going to recommend that everybody go out and buy the possible self. Thank you so much.



Thank you. My pleasure.


Thanks again to Maja for so generously, sharing her at her time and insights with us. After I stopped recording, Maja and I continued our conversation in her office. Frankly, I wish I hadn’t stopped recording. Perhaps we’ll have another chance to continue the conversation.


There’s so many meaningful points that Maja made. 

In particular, I loved her metaphor of working on ourselves, on our self-improvement or personal development. She said it’s like pouring gold into the seams of a broken clay pot. She spoke about the ancient Japanese art of gold repair, where they pour molten gold to fill the cracks. I hadn’t heard of that before, but I could imagine exactly what she was talking about. I looked it up. It’s called KINTSUGI.  Spelled KINTSUGI., which literally means “join with Gold.” What a beautiful metaphor.


Now, as promised, I’m going to briefly summarize three learnings that I want to reinforce with you based on our conversation.


First. The two false assumptions that form the premise of this book: “the possible self.” The first one is that we are stable and static – no we are not. As Maja said, we a constantly evolving. Personality is not static. You are not a fixed box. Rather you’re more like a ball, rolling along, collecting things, changing, constantly evolving.

The second false assumption is that we change through sheer willpower. Again that’s wrong. Instead, Maja points to the research – hers and others – which concludes that a more holistic focus on making change is what’s going to work.


The second key learning that I want to reinforce is a framework, a new way to think about this holistic view. It’s called “the wheel of self.” There are five elements of the wheel of self, including your motivations. your behaviors, your emotions, your mind, and your body. If you’re looking to make a change, if you’re focussing on personal development and possible self improvement, again, it’s not just willpower. If you consider your motivations, your behaviors, your motivations, your mind, and your body, and how these things all relate to your objective, then you’re much more likely to be successful in achieving your goal.


The third point I want to reinforce is the significance of what we might believe are the small things that people say. The small things that people say to us and the small things that we say to others. Sometimes these seemingly small things manifest in big significant ways. It’s certainly worth the effort to take care with our words directed at others, and also to interpret the true motivation and meaning behind others’ comments. 


Think back to when you were a child. Maybe in elementary school or junior high. The comments you heard from peers, from teachers, from family members. And some of them just stuck in your mind. They probably had far bigger consequences on you than intended. Off the top of my head. I remember one Halloween when I was in elementary school and I wore lots of make up. One of my favourite teachers caught me in the hallway and said wow andrea when you start wearing make up you’re gonna be a knockout! wait, what? WOW!

I know that sounds like a ridiculous example. But I’ve often thought in my mind. I wonder if that teacher was conscious at all about what she was saying about my appearance, and what I had to do to improve it.

Whether it’s a comment about appearance or intellect or skill or style, whatever it is. Whether you’re making or receiving the comment. Consider the impact that you’re making with seemingly trivial comments.  Small things can have big consequences.

Alright. That’s it. That’s everything for this episode.  Thanks again to Professor Maja D catch for sharing her time and her insights with us. I recommend I strongly recommend her book which you can find a link to in the show notes.


If you enjoyed this episode, I hope you will refer it to one of your friends, and I also hope you’ll leave a review on Apple, Spotify or YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts. 


Thank you so much for listening. Talk soon.