Why Nerds and Salesmen Shouldn't be in Charge
March 17, 2010 - 6:26am ET
What personality types rule America today as the chosen representatives of the super-rich?
The intellectuals - who like sitting still and being quiet anyway, so don't mind that patriotism today is judged by how many hours you can spend at a desk. Throw any kind of academic work at them and pay them enough, and they won't pay attention to what you're doing with the world.
The salesmen - who are inherently good at charming their way through any situation. They get through our restrictive school system by being slippery, sneaky, and self-centered. This doesn't make them bad people per say...it's the product they sell that determines how we label them.
Intellectuals shouldn't be in charge for the following reasons:
- We analyze information. That's what we do best. This involves a lot of time-intensive research, reading, thinking, writing, and talking to oneself. The work just doesn't get done if we're surrounded by a lot of people and noise. So intellectuals by nature prefer solitude most of the time. That makes us rather selfish people.
- Because our strength is analyzing information and reaching conclusions, we tend to think of other people as stupider than us. Chefs don't have this problem. They understand that some people can't cook, but it doesn't mean they're stupid. NASCAR drivers don't have this problem either. But intellectuals do. We spend so much more time than everyone else waiting for other people to catch up. This makes us rather impatient and unforgiving with the average human being. (read: jerk).
- We like order. Intellectuals crave order. Call it OCD if you want. We compartmentalize information for easier and more efficient processing, and we like our outside world to be the same. The problem is that people tend to lean more towards chaos. That is their natural state, just as it is our natural urge to "correct" them. When we're in charge, we "correct" people right into identical boxes that look everything like ours and look nothing like their natural, happy, amorphous shapes.
- We are fearful. And the world can't move forward without risk-takers. Intellectuals in charge can retard progress in the most surprising ways~ simple fears lead to large losses.
Salesmen shouldn't be in charge for the following reasons:
- Salesmen care about the sale. They don't care about what comes after the customer takes the product home. That's for the store manager and/or customer service department to worry about. That means they'll often sell you a bum product without actually intending to screw you over. It's the thrill of the hunt.
- Salesmen lie. It's in their nature. This comes in quite handy in many situations, but the need isn't great enough to require all the nation's best liars to converge in one place and rule the country. Cellphone stores need salesmen, yes, but salesmen don't build the phones or the networks. The salesmen sell the product. They shouldn't build it or control it.
- Salesmen do not have an inherent concern for the well-being of others. It's not part of the job requirement.
Who Should Be in Charge?
Soldiers and Teachers.
Grizzled veterans, experienced in battle, make awesome leaders. Discipline, compassion, leadership...and they're accustomed to bearing the responsibility of a large group of people's development and safety.
Soldiers are alpha males. Alpha males are biologically driven to stick close to home and protect their territory. They are mentally and emotionally motivated to protect and feed their people and fight off invaders. I laugh in the face of danger? You won't find a nerd doing that. But I've seen soldiers do it with a fierce, wild anticipation. They were born to protect us.
Soldiers are wired to respond with compassion and gentleness to those weaker and frailer - like babies, women, and seniors. Salesmen don't have the same compunction to stop them from taking advantage.
Teachers love knowledge, like intellectuals, but they have more patience than anyone (except grandmothers). And they are better at communication than intellectuals. This allows them to pass on information successfully without resorting to mass imprisonment and dire threats.
Teachers can't stop caring about their students. They love people. They want to help people learn and grow. It's a natural instinct. They're not faking it. They really care.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future