10 Attributes of The Entrepreneurial Personality Type
by Alex Charfen
Momentum – It’s that feeling that people like you and I have that makes us want to move forward, create new, climb that mountain, and continue to press on. It’s that innate motivation that drives us forward.
When I was studying successful people, I saw that it was there… But there was so much more. Part of what was so apparent was that people like us have these specific attributes that make us successful.
I want to share those 10 attributes with you so you can start encouraging them rather than suppressing them.
1 – High Sensitivity & Awareness
The first attribute of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type is high sensitivity and awareness. It's why I have custom lighting throughout my house that I can adjust and put wherever I want. It's also why I can set whatever temperature I want because I have high sensitivity and awareness. How many of you can relate to that? It's that feeling of hearing things that other people don't. It's knowing what the conversation was that was going on when you walk into the room, even though nobody said anything to you. It's that sensitivity where you see things other people don't. Now, under high pressure and noise, the high sensitivity that every successful entrepreneur throughout history has had turns on you. It can get overwhelming. Colors can get loud. It can get difficult just to gain momentum.
2 – Future Focus
The next attribute of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type is future focus. Throughout history, the most successful people among us focused on the future, created a new reality, and then demanded it becomes real. Now, here's how you know if you have this attribute. Have you ever been called a daydreamer, told to pay attention, check back in, come back and listen, or any of those things? If you have, then you're most likely what we call the entrepreneurial personality type today, a visionary.
Future focus gets referred to as “visionary” today. It's that ability to stay out of the present, to go to the future, to create a new reality and bring it here and change the status quo, under high pressure and noise, we can lose time in the present. We can spend so much time in the future that we don't check in here. We often lose perspective of the present, and it can make it challenging to check in to the present. Can you relate to both sides of this? The difference, as it always is, pressure and noise.
3 – High Processing Capacity
The next attribute is high processing capacity – this shows up in one of two ways. One, you can take in massive quantities of data. When something's interesting to you, you'll study it and know more than anybody else. You'll understand more than the people out there. In fact, you probably know enough about a topic that when you're around professionals in that topic, and they find out you're not one of them, they think you're weird. That's the first half of high processing capacity. The second half is, you think faster than everybody else. You actually do process more quickly, you do see the equations that are there and figure them out, and it's that high processing capacity that allows you to find the shortcuts in the world that you found to get to where you are now. People like us, we're not served by the system; we either have to survive the system or game the system. Sometimes we have to do both, and that high processing capacity allows us to do that.
Now, under high pressure and noise, high processing capacity just becomes noisy. Our ability to see everything gets us overwhelmed. You can hear it in what people say, you know? “I'm overwhelmed, I can't see straight, I don't know which direction to go, I can't make clear decisions.” It's because if we allow too much pressure and noise into our lives, that ability to take in data and make decisions gets completely overwhelmed.
4 – High Adaptability
The next attribute is high adaptability. You know you're one of these people if you're highly adaptable, if you've been called a chameleon, and you can get along with just about any group of people. Here's what I mean by “highly adaptable”: You know that you're a highly adaptable entrepreneurial personality type when you've done something like take the Myers-Briggs, and it says you're an introvert or an extrovert, but you've acted in the opposite way to get an outcome.
Here's what I know about people with these characteristics… The most successful people in history have modified them as necessary to become who they needed to be to get the outcome. That's why we're so highly adaptable. You know, in real life, I'm a pretty shy person. I don't like to share a lot about myself. I need a lot of time alone and away from other people to be able to think, to process, and I adapt to do this because I want to get this message out there.
Now, under high pressure and noise, here's what happens to high adaptability. See if you can remember this happening to you. We can get to a place in our lives where there's such high pressure and noise that we start adapting to the point where we've adjusted so much that we don't know where we started. So under high pressure and noise, high adaptability becomes something that can cause us to sabotage. We adapt so much, we look back at the beginning, we can't figure out why we're there, and that's when people say, “Wow, they just took themselves out of the game. They self-sabotaged. That person just didn't do anything,” you know, “didn't want to keep going,” and we don't because we're so highly adaptable that if we let pressure and noise into our lives, we can adapt to a place where we don't want to be.
5 – Intense Focus
Attribute five is our ability to focus on results intensely. You know you have this. As an Entrepreneurial Personality Type, this is that intense focus that gets us the outcome. It's that laser-focus ability to create something that wasn't there before. Thomas Edison took 10,000 tries to do what? To make a light bulb and everyone knows it. I've spoken to hundreds of rooms, and when I say “10,000 tries,” I always get “to make a light bulb.” That is a historic amount of high focus on a result, and when we look at Thomas Edison and his high focus on the result, what would happen to him today? I can imagine the 911 call. It would be something like “Officer, my neighbor Tom keeps blowing things up in his garage. He's done it thousands of times, and I went over to ask him what was going on, and he said he was going to keep going until he turned night into day. I need you to come get him.”
That intense focus on results today? Thomas Edison, he'd be locked up on Paxil, and we'd be here in the dark because we don't respect Entrepreneurial Personality Type attributes. Instead, we label them. The intense focus on results? That gets called “OCD,” or “isolated,” or “depressed,” or anything else. The fact is that our intensity and our focus on results is precisely that. When high pressure and noise comes in, it does a few things. It will cause us to isolate, to stop checking in, to stop talking to other people like us, to stop getting the energy that we need, the communication we need, and the exchange we need from our tribe. When you realize you haven't checked in in a while, that lets you know that the pressure and noise are probably too high. That's the same thing, a two-sided coin, as each of these attributes. You increase pressure and noise, and they turn on you.
6 – Biased For Improvement
The sixth attribute is bias for improvement. Now, you know you have this bias, and here is how I always test it with people. For you, it's different, but for each person's it's a form of establishment. This bias is a yogurt shop, or a gym, or a retail store, or doctor's office, or whatever it is for you. That bias for improvement is that entrepreneurial attribute that gets you to redesign the entire place by the time you are done paying. If they would just follow your new design, everything would work out better. That's bias for improvement. That's that question in our head that says, “How do we make things better? How do we make this faster? How do we improve things for everyone?” Bias for improvement is what drives us to create our success as an entrepreneur.
Now, under high pressure and noise, bias for improvement can cause us to go into a constant loop of changing things. Such as looking for momentum, but we don't check-in to see if we're getting a result. We just get into this continuous loop of changing things. I watch entrepreneurs do this all the time. I've done it. They release product after product without focus. They put out new marketing after new marketing. They go into project after project without actually getting results, without actually creating momentum. It'll hold you there. When as for improvement is under high pressure and noise, we sort of go blind and can't see what the appropriate next step should be.
7 – Experiential Learning
The seventh is experiential learning. Now, this flip of the coin is a weird one. A lot of people are surprised by experiential learning – this is that attribute that makes us want to roll up our sleeves and do something. When everyone says there's no way this can be done, respond with, “Yes, it can,” and then figure out a way to make it happen. It's that experiential learning that makes us say, “Hey if I haven't seen it, I probably don't trust it.” That's how we are. Evolutionary hunters had to experience, had to experiment.
Under high pressure and noise, we'll get to the place where we avoid experience or experimenting with the right things. We won't make the calls we should. We know what we should do, but we'll do almost anything else. If we haven't experienced and experimented in long enough, and pressure and noise are present, this is where pessimism and skepticism will come from, for an entrepreneurial personality type. In this state of mind, everyone in our lives can look suspicious, including those closest to us.
8 – Perceiving Unique Connections
The eighth Entrepreneurial Personality Type is perceiving unique or different connections – this is the ability that allows you to see the solutions that other people don't see. This capability will enable you to understand what should happen next while enabling you to create momentum where other people don't see it as even possible. Perceiving unique connections is most likely how you ended up where you are right now. When you were a kid, what did you want to be growing up? What did you end up being today? You got here through perceiving unique connections, through seeing the opportunity.
Now, under high pressure and noise, our ability to perceive unique connections, is where we can't see the forest for the trees. We don't see the next move. We don't understand what we should actually do. Everything gets jumbled together. Our ability to perceive unique connections and do things differently is lost. Everyone else becomes a liability under high pressure and noise because all we see are different ways to do things. We don't see the right direction, the idea that's going to give us momentum, or the path that is going to allow us to move forward.
9 – Drive for Gained Advantage
The ninth one is the drive for gained advantage. The rest of the world doesn't have this as we do. This is that thing that makes us ask, “How do I get ahead?” At one point, over 20% of the U.S. population watched a show like Wheel of Fortune every night, and if, for some reason, Wheel of Fortune didn't play, hundreds of thousands of people called into the network. Why? They needed Wheel of Fortune. They're not like us. Drive for gained advantage is that question in our minds that says, “How do I get ahead? How do I get more out of this? How do I create a better solution? How do I make this happen faster? How do I make this happen with a bigger scale? How do I affect more people?”
Now, under high pressure and noise, that drive for gained advantage, that question, “How do I get ahead” can turn on us and cause us to act vindictive and cutthroat. If you can't admit to ever acting this way, then I hear you, but I sure have. I've seen tons of entrepreneurs who are under pressure and needed the money too much, and something happened in a deal. That drive for gained advantage caused them to turn against the people they were working with. When pressure and noise go up, we have to be careful, because the drive for gained advantage can put us in a place where we don't want to be. In fact, when you look at the beginning of every great entrepreneur's career, there's usually a drive for gained advantage period where they did some things that they probably wouldn't want to tell their kids. I mean, Microsoft, Apple, there was some collusion, some theft at the beginning of those companies. Drive for gained advantage under high pressure and noise can make us act cutthroat.
10 – Innate Motivation
The tenth attribute is innate motivation. Innate motivation is that switch that turned on at some point in time in your life, and you can't turn it off no matter what you do. I've spoken to thousands of entrepreneurs, and I ask the question, “Can anyone in the room really turn it off?” No one raises their hand. The fact is, for people like us, the evolutionary hunter, it's that innate motivation that has caused the tribe to survive. Thank god we have it. The fact is, if you look at human beings, we suck compared to most of the animal kingdom. You put a baby human with a baby anything else, that baby human is going to die. Innate motivation is what kept us going, what drove us forward, what caused our subpopulation to keep the tribe alive.
Today, innate motivation is misunderstood more than almost any other attribute. We label it things like hyperactive and disordered. We look at kids, and we call them Asperger's and autistic because they have a drive we don't understand. We call entrepreneurs obsessive, compulsive, and all kinds of other names that describe that engine going on and just refusing to turn off. That tells us that there is more here, we can do more, and we can create something bigger while making it better. For each of us, we remember when it turned on. For some, it has always been there, and they remember the day. For all of us, we recognize it's there.
Under high pressure and noise, that innate motivation can cause people like you and me to do more work between our ears, from when we lay down to sleep to when we mercifully go to sleep, than most people do all day. When we lower pressure and noise, these attributes create our success. When pressure and noise go up in our lives, they cause us to do everything that entrepreneurs get criticized for. In fact, they can cause us to become symptomatic and get labeled. These have been around longer than we have had writing. When we look at the entrepreneurial personality types, we know you can see both sides. Steve Jobs was able to get the best work out of people. They were able to create better things than they ever had with anybody else, yet he was incredibly challenging.
How many of these ten qualities do you know? How many of them do you have? Do you know someone with any of these qualities? A lot of the feedback I've received from not only my articles but my podcasts as well is that they have helped families understand one another better. Friends and coworkers as well. If you could, do us a favor and share this article so others can hopefully understand someone close to them even better.
If you have any of these attributes… I’m certain that you are a part of The Entrepreneurial Personality Type.