Feb 9, 2013


We get exhilarated by meeting extraordinary people or people with qualities not seen commonly otherwise. We also get flabbergasted when we see extraordinary performances by extraordinary people which are also not common. We do not get tired of praising people in our writings or discussions or quotations who have reached the highest pedestal of society due to their intelligence, skills, hard work and ability to take risk. Those people may be top film artists, writers, politicians, sportsperson  businessmen, bureaucrats, scientists or anybody who is recognized by the media or famous otherwise in the world. If we get a chance to be associated with them, then we feel our positions are elevated in society. If any one of them belongs to our community, society or country then it gives us a further sense of pride and personal gratification.

Have we ever thought about what makes them different from the rest of the world? Why are they extraordinary? How have they achieved unusual qualities which have made them different from the rest?

They have become different because they are not common. Their thinking is not common. Their way of life is not common. Their actions are atypical.  Their visions and dreams are uncommon. They are trend setters for the common people. We cherish the idea of becoming like them. We teach our kids to become like them and follow their ideals. Yet we act, behave, think or talk like a common person. Being pointed out as a common person or having our thoughts or actions characterized as common, we feel humiliated or insulted. Therefore, what makes us a common person? What are the characteristics of a common person? What are the attributes of common people? How do we distinguish ourselves from a common person and an uncommon or extraordinary person?

I am forced to write on this topic when I see this duality of characters in people all around me.  Why are people so hypocritical in projecting themselves to the world? In order to understand this double standard, it is pertinent to analyze the background and behavioral psychology of people.

Number of Famous People in the world
Wikipedia has made some interesting calculations about the number of famous people in the world. They have made simple calculations by calculating the fraction of living people having Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia requires a certain threshold of notability for someone to get a Wikipedia page. They have taken that number and divided by the total global population to get the fraction of famous people in the world.

According to Wikipedia “as of January 15, 2013, the number of pages in the category of Living People on Wikipedia is 604,174. The total global population is 7,059,837,187. This means that the fraction of living famous people is 0.000086 which comes to 1 in 10,000.”

It also means that 9,999 people or 99.99 percent of people are common in their thinking, behavior and actions; therefore they cannot be recognized as famous persons. Wikipedia may be wrong in their assessment. Several people having extraordinary qualities may not have been listed in the Wikipedia pages due to one or another reason. Even if we double, triple or quadruple this number, the percentage of the total population having people with a non famous personality, or common way of thinking, or people devoid of extra-ordinary qualities will remain 99.99%.

Personality Types
Therefore, we will have to understand what qualities make a person common or non common or famous.  To start with we will discuss about the personality types which differentiates a common person from non common people.

Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychotherapist developed the concepts of the extroverted and the introverted personality which is the characterization of human consciousness and its general attitude. According to Jung, a person’s ‘psyche’ is represented by their conscious and unconscious parts and they are in a self-balancing state. This means if a person’s conscious side or attitude becomes dominant or extreme, then the unconscious will surface or manifest in some way to rectify the balance. He also asserted that at times in people the unconscious can surface and project to the outside world, particularly other people.  He also characterized its preferences within the two pairs of its mental functions: Sensing- Intuition and Thinking- Feeling. The three parameters introduced by Jung are bipolar dimensions where each pole represents an opposite preference. As per Jung, out of two one of the mental functions is dominant in a person.

Later on, Isabel Briggs Myers, an American author and her mother Katherine Cook Briggs created a personality inventory by adding fourth dichotomy with the opposite poles of Judging and Perceiving which came to be known as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As per them, there are 16 different combinations representing 16 different personality types. They are:

1)    ESTJ (Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking and Judging) – The Guardian – Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities. Good citizens who value security and peaceful living. Practical, traditional and organized. Loyal and hard working. Likely to be athletic. Not interested in theory or abstraction unless they see the practical application. Have clear visions of the way things should be.

2)    ESTP (Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving) – The Doer – Great people skills, friendly, adaptable and action oriented. Focused on immediate results. Living in the here-and-now. They are risk takers who live fast-paced lifestyles. Impatient with long explanations. Extremely loyal to peers but not usually respectful of laws and rules if they get in the way of getting things done.

3)    ESFJ (Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling and Judging) – The Caregiver – Well developed sense of space and function. Warm hearted, popular and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves.

4)    ESFP (Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving) – The Performer – Well developed common sense and practical ability. They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. People oriented and fun loving. They make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Living for the moment and they love new experiences. Interested in serving others and likely to be the center of attraction in social situation.

5)    ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking and Judging) – The Duty Fulfiller – They are serious, quiet, interested in security and peaceful living. Extremely thorough, responsible and dependable. Well-developed powers of concentration. They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it. Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments. Well organized and hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals.

6)    ISTP (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving) – The Mechanic- Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work. Excellent skills with mechanical things. Risk takers who they live for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports. Detached and analytical, they excel at finding solutions to practical problems. Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal value systems, but not overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting something done.

7)    ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling and Judging) – The Nurturer – Quiet, kind and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions and usually puts the needs of other above their own needs. Well developed sense of pace and function and rich inner world of observation about people. Interested in serving others and extremely perceptive of other’s feelings.

8)    ISFP (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving) – The Artist – Quiet, serious, sensitive and kind. Loyal and faithful.  Do not like conflict and not likely to do thing which may generate conflict. Loyal and faithful. Likely to be original and creative and enjoy the present moment. Extremely well developed senses and aesthetic appreciation for beauty. Not interested in leading or controlling others and flexible and open minded.

9)    ENTJ (Extrovert, Intuition, Thinking and Judging) – The Executive – Intelligent and well informed and excel at public speaking. Assertive and outspoken and they are driven to lead.  They value knowledge and competence and usually have little patience with inefficiency or disorganization. Excellent ability to understand difficult organizational problems and create solid solutions.

10) ENTP (Extrovert, Intuition, Thinking and Perceiving) – The Visionary – Excellent ability to understand concept and apply logic to find solutions. Creative, resourceful and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things. Enjoy debating issues and may like to lead. They get very excited about new ideas and projects, but may neglect the more routine aspects of life. Generally assertive and outspoken.

11) ENFJ (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling and Judging) – The Giver – Very effective at managing people issues and leading group discussions. Interested in serving others and probably place then need of others over their own needs. Popular and sensitive with outstanding people skills. Extremely focused with real concern for how others think and feel. Usually dislike being alone. They see everything from human angle and dislike impersonal analysis.

12) ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving) – The Inspirer – Enthusiastic, idealistic and creative. Abe to do almost anything that interests them. Open minded and flexible with a broad range of interests and abilities. Great people skills. Need to live in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas but bored with details.

13) INTJ (Introvert, Intuition, Thinking and Judging) – The Scientist – Independent, original, analytical and determined. Long range thinkers and have very high standards for their performance and the performance of others. Natural leader but will follow if they trust existing leaders. Driven to derive meaning from their vision. High value knowledge, competence and structure. Have an exceptional ability to turn theories into solid plans of action.

14) INTP (Introvert, Intuition, Thinking and Perceiving) – The Thinker- Quiet and reserved. Hard to get know well. Individualistic and having no interest in leading or following others. Logical, original, creative thinkers. Can become very excited about theories and ideas. Exceptionally capable and driven to turn theories into clear understandings. Highly value knowledge, competence and logic.

15) INFJ (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling and Judging) – The Protector-Well developed value systems which they strictly adhere to. Quietly forceful, original and sensitive. Well respected for their perseverance in doing the right thing. Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following. Extremely intuitive about people and concerned for their feelings.

16) INFP (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving) – The Idealist – Well developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Quiet, reflective and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Interested in understanding and helping people. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick and able to see possibilities.

I think the above psychoanalysis or personality types do not cover all types of people on this planet and is meant for professional people having some extra-ordinary qualities. Because common people's psychology is influenced by all kinds of negative and positive and sometime illogical, irrational and bias thinking due to their religious, social and cultural belief which keeps changing as per their mood and temperament. As such they have no control on their emotions which goes up and down like a Yo-yo  Their thoughts are influenced by negativity or positivity or sometime neutrality. 

Common way of thinking
Therefore, the above logical analysis of Carl Jung and Myers Briggs, have not taken into consideration the influencing factors in the framing of a common person’s psychology. A common person’s way of thinking at large is perceived and influenced by their family, society, culture, economy, religion and educational background and in turn it makes them an extrovert or introvert, judging and perceiving. For example, Carl Jung's and Myers Briggs psychological analysis will become absolutely useless on a caveman because the caveman’s environment is unique.  Likewise every person or groups of people have unique social, cultural religious and family environment in which they have grown and their personality type, judging, thinking and perceiving ability have also become unique and suited to their respective environments. May be the unconscious part of a common man's psyche contains these influencing factors as described by Carl Jung which are parts of their true nature and not visible otherwise.

The perceptions about certain criteria or norms are also based on average percentiles of experience in a particular society or group, influencing a person’s thinking or doing certain things. As a result, peoples thought processes are cocooned in that parameter. They do not want to venture out of their secured and time tested inner environment.

For example, at a common parlance people say -I do not want to take the risk of doing business or changing jobs or trying something different. This change is a perceived threat which they do not wish to take to become uncommon. Either they lack courage or skills to maneuver the intricacies involved in doing something away from their cocooned environment, or they seem to be too engrossed in protecting themselves what they have without any risk. Common thinking is also marred by negative thoughts, which makes them over cautious and deprives them of the resulting fruits as an outcome of risk taken. And those who take these risks become successful and set an example for society.

Common people will always site an example of successful or extra-ordinary people as their role model but they themselves withhold on walking upon their path or try to become like them. Because trying to become extra-ordinary holds a lot of risks and requires extra ordinary capabilities. There may be several examples of successful people; how they started with nothing and became millionaires or billionaires at some stage of life because they have taken risks and were not afraid of trying something new and going out of the set patterns of society.

Colonel Harland David Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC became successful at the age of 65 after failing 1009 times or being rejected miserably. How many of us can really hold on and continue from where we had started off with?

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, had to file bankruptcy in 1833 because of back payments and debt and later on he became the President of the most powerful nation on earth.

Henry Ford, founder of FORD motors and the most successful car manufacturing company of today had to file personal bankruptcy twice.  Likewise Walt Disney the cartoon creator and founder of Disney World and Henry John Heinz, manufacturer of Heinz Ketchup and other condiments also had to go through failures and bankruptcy. There are several examples of people who struggled in the beginning and became successful at the end. The latest example includes Steve Jobs of Apple Computers.

In order to become successful or extra-ordinary, one will have to go through the trials and tribulations whereas common people would like to stay miles away from these risks. Their personality is also affected by negative traits which are as follows:

1.    Greed- Ordinary people are too greedy not to move out of their dwellings or try something new for the fear of losing it or craving for more with little or no effort.
2.    Jealousy- They are always jealous of other people who are more successful than them which generates negative energy in their personality.
3.    Ego- Their ego is always at the peak and they become offensive if they are underestimated. This makes them blind to see the reality.
4.    Anger- They lack control of their mental temperaments and become angry with little instigation. This reflects on a person's self controlling ability.
5.    Hatred- Since they differentiate between human beings - castes, color, religion or race, they suffer from the feelings of hatred and disparity. This surrounds a person with negativity.
6.    Clever- They are too clever to risk anything for the fear of losing it.
7.    Critical- They are always critical of an idea or proposal and very good in looking into the negative aspects of everything while ignoring the positive side.
8.    Over Analytical- It is good to be analytical but generally common people are over analytical and in the process they lose momentum.
9.    Show-off- They like to exaggerate more than what they have in reality. This makes a person too small in themselves.
10. Uncompassionate- They lack compassion towards human sufferings. They may talk about it but do little or nothing.
11. Conceited- They are sometime arrogant and look for self praise. This attribute projects negative influence. 
12. Selfish- They think about themselves more than anybody else’s feelings. This suppresses positive side of a person's personality.
13. Religious- They pretends to be religious and believe in ritualism more than humanism. Being over religious proves that they have little or no knowledge of the concept of the God. They are more God fearing than God loving.
14. Uneducated – They may be having several degrees or holding high positions in public places but they are spiritually uneducated and boastful. Education is a state of mind where a person feels enlighten about the intricacies of natural tendencies, human nature and their behaviour, why and how people act or react in a certain way and gets the true knowledge of his or her being in this world. I have already written about the so called uneducated degree holders in my article ‘Philosophy of Education”.

To sum-up, a person can become famous or extra-ordinary only if they are able to control all or some of the attributes of common people as mentioned above. To prove this premise you may start analyzing successful people around you (not corrupt politicians or bureaucrats) and try to see the degree of above traits present in their action, behavior or personality. You will find the amazing difference.   

Therefore, to become uncommon from common, extra-ordinary from ordinary one will have to make efforts with a positive attitude, trust in oneself and believe in God. One should always remember “Success is not final and failure is not fatal.” It is the courage to  try constantly for achieving goal (and the goal may be getting rid of above mentioned negative traits) matters a lot, which will make an uncommon from common, extraordinary from ordinary.

Your comment is very much solicited which may enlighten readers of this blog.

Suman Saran Sinha
A pursuer of logical quest


Harrison Foo, Sydney, Australia. said...

Good Day Suman,

The lexicon of successes is ' dare to be different, able to deliver expectations and extremely not difficult to deal with at all ', these attributes and brio are essential in articulating ' vow to win-win situations' ensuring an akin emphasis in best practice ethics-ethos-empathy parameters. This is compulsory, mandatory and imperative to be successful despite not necessary to be extraordinary and spectacular beyond the norms. Enjoy what one is doing diligently with a check & balance duty-of-care attentions & intentions.

Dilli Raj Devkota, Nepal. said...

I liked the topic.

Lokesh Punj, said...

All are relative terms and most often than not, it is a common person who becomes successful person when success parameters are judiciously pre-decided and efforts are made in the right direction for success.To categorise SUCCESSFUL PERSONS as different than COMMON PERSONS is a mistake.

James Croft, Milwaukee, USA said...

I would say that most people with the following attributes create success for themselves: Attention to detail, dedication to excellence (i.e. quality), a wide (although perhaps not deep) knowledge base, ability to communicate not only their thoughts, but their plans - in detail, and an ability to really, really listen to others and to make sure other know you are hearing them (even if you don't always agree).

Cliff Hay, Boston, USA. said...

One who is dedicated to excellence, not only in one's own undertakings, but equally dedicated to the successes of others with whom he interacts. This attribute applies to all facets of his/her life, professional, familial, and social. He raises the bar for all around him and, subsequently improves the lives and business successes of a broad circle of associations. I'm not certain this can be "learned" ... I believe it is inherent.

Latifu Salami, Nigeria. said...

I liked the topic.

Victor C., Joinville, Brazil. said...

Our capabilities, just by beeing BORN, is a tremendoussssss, SUCCESS.

Glen Gifford, UAE. said...

The attributes of a successful person is an ordinary person who excels at their vocation in life and is continuously seeking to improve in all that they do. An extraordinary person are those who have physical disabilities and despite this faces life's challenge's to overcome the obstacles they have to face to achieve what many ordinary people fail to try and say they cannot do. So here we have successful people and extraordinarily successful people all working towards excelling.

Najam Hassan, China. said...

Lokesh, I agree with your assertion.

Suman seems rather of generous in complimenting the attributes, which is admirable but being at the right place at he right time can also contribute to the success of people. I have , many a time, seen very talented and highly educated people with integrity not even given a chance let alone testing their skills. So at he end of the day, it's all relative. Some special people remain common just because the opportunity does not present itself to them.

Glenn, so profound! So is success a degree and level of achievement or the extraordinary effort that does not bear the fruit and , not due to your inadequacy but the circumstances, beyond your control. An example is a genius expat. Vs. son of a sheikh who becomes the boss with no talent of his?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for enlightening us by your writing.
Best regards
Shubhra Sen

Ingrid Cardona, Sydney, Australia said...

I liked the topic.

Ziauddin Khan, Pakistan said...

I liked the topic.

Awuese Oku, Tunisia said...

Integrity, tenacity, empathy, consciousness and a teachable spirit, these are the learned qualities the set successful people apart. The inherent qualities are generosity, perceptive ability, being organized, and the ability to accept failure as a learning curve, the ability to invest and build people up and appreciation of beauty.

A combination of these qualities has become a rare commodity in today’s world. Let’s look at the history of discovery of electricity from Thales of Miletus, Cardano and William Gilbert, Otto von Guericke to Benjamin Franklin; it was tenacity and the ability to accept failure as a learning curve that kept them going. When Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison invented the electric bulb after trying a 100 times; it was not to make themselves rich (nothing wrong with that though) it was their perceptive ability combined with tenacity and the desire to improve the lot of humanity that propelled them on. Can we imagine one day without electricity? The world will literally collapse. When we think of successful people do these people enter our journals?

Through the centuries the definition of success has changed; gradually moving away from impact to effect. These days a successful person is defined by the effect the person has rather than the impact that person has made. Which end of the barrel of success do we want to define, effect or impact?

Raj Modi, London, UK said...

I would summarise it in one word - integrity.

Paulette Weathers-Chin, Jamaica said...

From my experiences, very successful persons are 'hands-on' meaning they are willing to visit, revisit the beginnings.

Chris Lambrecht, Atlanta, USA said...

Well said, Awuese!

John Roberts, Dallas/ Fort Worth, USA said...

I've been blessed to have 3 very successful "C" level mentors. Their word is their bond. They lead by example; create positive work environments; exploit strengths (theirs, their team's, and each person on their team). They strive to help others in every way possible. Amazingly, in this age of "who can we throw under the bus" - they take FULL responsibility for their assigned role and their team's actions. How refreshing!

Peter Tollmann, Atlanta, USA said...

I liked the discussion.

Krishna Reddy Pasala, Canada said...

I liked the discussion.

David M Jacobs, Sarasota, Florida said...

I liked the discussion.

Prasad B, Atlanta, USA said...

I liked the topic.

Swati Agarwal, Mumbai,India said...

According to me a truly successful person is one who can sleep with a clear conscience. Given an opportunity, he praises hi steam member son their success but takes the blame for his team upon himself.

Dr.BVD Rao, Bengaluru, India. said...

EPIC: Empathy, Passion, Integrity and Commitment. Successful ones need to have EPIC proportions and qualities, other commoners fall by the wayside.

Mike Kelly, Ireland said...

The use of the word “common” lacks lateral perception and is ill conceived – there are no common people. The world abounds with top-tier organisations, managed by talentless individuals. I have sat in boardrooms, surrounded by power crazy puppets and the attributes are always the same - power, money, dominance and other psychopathic characteristic. They are usually charismatic, outgoing and experts at organisational politics. They look and speak the part. Some will stop at nothing to get to the top – they need a seamless infusion of self-actualisation. Behind the glittering materialism lurks emptiness. Much depends on the meaning of the word “successful” – if it means financial, then success is hollow and short-term. True success comes with integrity and honesty - and leaving this world better than you found it.

Carlos Gustavo Prado, Mexico said...

I think the three most important ones are: honesty, respect and a sense of justice.

Aster Zewdie, Ethiopia said...

I liked the topic.

Lidia Nachbaur, Germany said...

Strong will, high empathy, good listener, hard worker and tough

Aster Zewdie, Ethiopia said...

I think Optimism, Good Planning,Commitment and Good communication are also key elements

Alan Charles, USA said...

Vision, tenancity, character, intelligence

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