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Does Your Personality Affect Your Business Success?

We learn a lot from those that go before us in life and business – especially in terms of habits, actions and traits that lead to success. It’s also in our nature to seek out these role models, critique their journeys and stories in order to use that knowledge to improve our own circumstances.

But what if the way we’re hard-wired dictates how well we do as entrepreneurs? Does your personality affect your business success?

 

Yes – Your personality affects your success

Hamira Riaz is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society believes that “extremely successful people have an extreme psychological make-up. Their backgrounds are unique and their stories unusual. They perceive the world fundamentally different”. She argues that those with challenging life experiences between the ages of 6 and 12 are more likely to have a personality that lends them to success in later life as they have developed keen coping strategies for unfamiliar experiences.

Personality test website 16personalities.com also suggests that there are some types of people for whom success and achieving goals is more enticing. They suggest that two key traits underpin all others when it comes to personality and that is whether you’re assertive or turbulent in your identity.

Assertive types “do not push themselves too hard when it comes to achieving goals” whereas Turbulent types tend to be “to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve”. And whilst the website suggests there are 16 main personality types based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality system, that it is these two personality types that indicate success.

We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?

Malcolm Gladwell Author of the bestselling book, Outliers

No – Your personality does not affect your success

Malcolm Gladwell, in his New York Times bestselling book, Outliers, suggests a different view – that a person’s success whilst somewhat dependent on their genetic makeup and personality, actually has more to do with their circumstance.

In his research for the book he discovered that it was often being in the right place at the right time that contributed to massive success and that, “if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them-at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date”.

In the book, he refers to a variety of examples that prove this argument, including the cut-off dates for entry to hockey leagues in America. Those players whose month of birth fell just after a cut-off date for entry (i.e they were the oldest in their league) excelled in comparison with those whose month of birth fell just before the cut-off date. This birth-month bias was actually more of a factor in whether the player succeeded than their talent or personality.

Malcolm Gladwell also applies this  theory to the business world, looking at key figures such as Bill Gates, whose childhood circumstances and a series of fortunate events led to him creating Microsoft:

“We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?”

 

Is personality an indicator of success or is it just down to luck and circumstance?
Ultimately if you agree, it’s up to you to use those traits to succeed and if you disagree, it’s up to you make the most of the opportunities that present themselves to you. The common ground between both sides of this argument, and mentioned by those authorities on the subject, is action breeds success. It is those who don’t just think about it but do it, that ultimately rise to the top.

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