Rubber Band Theory of Personality (Are you Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?)

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  • Our personalities are flexible…but only to a point.
  • Knowing yourself will help you as you chart your path to success.
  • Set aside time to try new things outside of your comfort zone.

Susan Cain wrote a powerful book that has resonated with hundreds of thousands of people — Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

In a team meeting, we discussed this selection from Quiet:

“We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems. And yet the elasticity that Schwartz found in some of the high-reactive teens also suggests the converse: we have free will and can use it to shape our personalities.

These seem like contradictory principles, but they are not. Free will can take us far, suggests Dr. Schwartz’s research, but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits. Bill Gates is never going to be Bill Clinton, no matter how he polishes his social skills, and Bill Clinton can never be Bill Gates, no matter how much time he spends alone with a computer.

We might call this the ‘rubber band theory’ of personality. We are like rubber bands at rest. We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.”

Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs

Let’s make this practical. Check out the way Bill Gates and the team from Microsoft tried to pump up the crowd for the release of Windows 95:

Now, let’s look at the way Steve Jobs works a crowd.

This video shows the product launch for the original iPhone. It’s long but just watch the first few minutes:

Both of these men are brilliant in their respective fields but these videos show the drastic differences in their personality. Steve Jobs was comfortable commanding a room with the sheer anticipation of the product creating excitement.

Bill Gates, on the other hand, didn’t look comfortable in that same setting and struggled to describe his product with words that elicit the same kind of atmosphere Jobs set.

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How Far Will Your Personality Stretch?

Honestly evaluate your own personality.

These are important things to know as you chart your path to success. How can we reconcile the tension between playing to our strengths/using our gifts and stretching ourselves outside of our comfort zone?

How can you maximize your strengths and gifts while also not crippling yourself by never stretching outside your comfort zone?

If you never sat down and thought about that, we recommend doing so. What works best for everyone will vary but we recommend setting aside time for activities that are outside of your comfort zone.

You might be surprised to find an activity that with a little nurturing turns into a strength.

If you do some further digging for more recent Microsoft events, you can easily spot that Bill Gates has spent time developing his on-stage presence. He’s still not in the Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs stratosphere, but he’s definitely developed his voice.

Susan Cain Talks Quiet

Take a few minutes and watch Susan’s TED Talk about her book:

 

No matter your personality, you need a team that shares your values and vision. We’re passionate about growing your business. Schedule your demo today to learn more about our business management software.