Can We Change Who We Are?

My goal is to someday be good enough at golf to earn PGA Teaching Professional credentials. This means having that coveted PGA logo next to my name and on my title. It will show that I have gone through the grueling 4-year curriculum and passed the PAT (Player Ability Test), which I have already taken over 7 times and failed. It’s not that I am not good enough to score to pass the test, which I do all the time playing casually with my friends, but something happens to me mentally during the qualifying round. Call it imposter syndrome, call it a mental block, call it whatever you want…I am struggling to pass and it’s driving me crazy.

Why am I torturing myself to do this? Because my ultimate goal is for me to get ready to phase into my retirement days, as a second career, teaching and helping elite high school and college-age athletes to be even better athletes competing at the highest level. Also, I have a plan for my future grandkids someday becoming professional touring golf pros. Hahaha! Don’t laugh. It’s my dream.

Back to my imposter syndrome and my mental block…I started reading a book called “With Winning in Mind” which is written by a 1976 Gold Medalist who found his success in sports that were predominantly “mental” and figured out a way to breakthrough one’s struggle to becoming the world’s greatest. So, I had to dive in and figure out what he has to say. One of the most intriguing ideas about his philosophy is his definition of “Self-Image”. He says a person’s Self-Image is how you think about yourself and that if you believe in yourself. If you have a positive Self-Image and are able to succeed at a high level. Your Self-Image and your performance are equal, meaning, if you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t be able to do it. But if you have a positive Self-Image and know it is “Like you” to be able to do it, then you will do it with ease. Interesting. I think he’s onto something.

Which begs another question. Can we fundamentally change who we are? Can we change what we think about ourselves? Can we change our personality? I mean, my self-image encompasses long-lasting patterns of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, even events and trauma that have occurred in my life that has shaped me. Oh, and let’s not forget the genetic factors and my childhood experiences and even environmental influences. I say changing myself is a complex and challenging process.

In fact, if you search “can a person change?” on google or YouTube, you will find yourself in the rabbit hole of information ranging from “no, you are who you are, you can change your behavior but you can’t change who you are at the core.” Or “absolutely you can change, you’ll just need the right tools, accountability, help and you can be transformed.” or “you can only change if you hit rock bottom and only way for survival is to change.” I’ve been researching this topic for over a week and my guess is that there isn’t a definite black and white answer.

So, why are we even making this a series. Why do we even bother with New Year Resolutions and dreaming out our transformation? New Year, New me? Or, New Year…same old me?

Great question, here’s my answer with a story. There’s a gal named Dorothy…I think she also has a dog but that’s not important. She has three friends who desperately want to change who they are. And Dorothy guides them to this brilliant wizard who grants them their wish of transformation. Let’s talk about each of her friends’ issues and how each of them was transformed, shall we?

  • Scarecrow: The Scarecrow desires a brain because he feels he lacks intelligence. In the end, the Wizard presents him with a diploma, symbolizing the intelligence he sought. However, it is later revealed that the Scarecrow had always been intelligent, and the diploma was more of a recognition of his existing wisdom.
  • Tin Man: The Tin Man longs for a heart, believing he is incapable of love and emotion. The Wizard provides him with a heart-shaped clock, assuring him that it will make a ticking sound when he is experiencing emotions. This gesture satisfies the Tin Man, who discovers that he had a kind and loving heart all along.
  • Cowardly Lion: The Cowardly Lion seeks courage, as he believes himself to be a coward. The Wizard gives him a medal, and although the Lion initially thinks it is a placebo, he later proves his bravery in various situations throughout their journey. This demonstrates that he had courage within him from the beginning.

Ultimately, Dorothy’s friends learn that the “change” they sought after was already within themselves, and the Wizard merely provided symbols or tokens to help them realize their inner strengths. They came to a profound realization that what they were seeking was already intrinsic to their being.

Can we change? Yes, we can. Can we grow? Yes, we can. Can we change our self-image? Yes, we can. Then, can we fundamentally change who we are? I don’t know…why would you want to if you already possess the change you want within you?

I have more to unpack next week. Stay tuned. Thanks for letting me think out loud.


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