"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
- Walt Whitman
In 1815, after escaping exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon was able to put together an army by walking from village to village in southern France and convincing the farmers to join him in retaking the throne. The King, in Paris, heard of his return and dispatched a regiment to kill him.
When the regiment arrived, Napoleon rode out alone before them, within firing range, and delivered a short speech of such power and charisma that the soldiers turned on their commanders, shouting, "Vive l'Empereur!" They overthrew the King soon after. Certain historians wax poetic about Napoleon's unequalled public speaking prowess.
Earlier in his career, he had attempted to address a political audience, and collapsed from the fear of public speaking. This was not the only contradiction in his personality: he would often march energetically with his troops on a campaign, shouting encouragement and endearing himself to his men. Other times, he would be listless and sullen and could barely interact with people.
A former secret service agent published a tell-all about his years in the Clinton White House. His "revelation" was that Bill Clinton was not the gregarious, charming, outgoing person he appeared to be; he was often listless and sullen, and would stare off into space.
We have a desire to "diagnose" the characteristics of leaders and then hopefully instill those traits in ourselves or our students. But most of the remarkable leaders in history were hard to pin down: they exhibited a diversity of personality.
Certain psychologists believe that the human brain evolved from various subselves: one for interacting with friends, one for interacting with competitors, one for dealing with our children, one for winning status, and another for dealing with romantic partners. Assigning a single number to assess ourselves on a trait, like "extraversion," is nonsense.
What is becoming scary is that certain half-baked theories of success ("leaders are extraverted") could easily infect our education system. Shouldn't we encourage our students to see themselves more accurately, as Walt Whitman said, "containing multitudes?"
I'm an entrepreneur and I teach math, history, economics, and fitness. I'm looking for arguments.