December 28, 2016

The Aggressive Person vs. The Aggressive Mind

Jeff Stoller

Jeff Stoller
President/321 Bayshore Investments, Inc.

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It’s easy to identify aggressive personalities.  The neighborhood bully, the driver who yells at everyone at the road, the boxer who doesn’t just want to win but wants to destroy; even the loudmouth in the restaurant who can’t whisper without everyone in the place hearing.  A person with an aggressive personality likes to dominate a situation or other people through either force or intimidation.

But is having an aggressive personality the same as having an aggressive mind?  It has been my experience and observation that the answer is, “no.”

I have met people with both an aggressive personality and mind.  I have met people with an aggressive personality in some respects and an aggressive mind in some respects.  But I have generally found that people, if they are aggressive in one way (since most people are not aggressive either way), tend to rely on that way to express themselves.

Who has an aggressive mind?  The person who starts with what is … and goes beyond; like the entrepreneur who sees the marketplace and says, “What if...?” Or, the doctor who creates the cure for a disease from nothing .  The inventor who makes a machine do something to make life a little easier.  And the writer who creates a futuristic world and has total control over absolutely every element in that world, from modes of transportation to what forms of life exist.

Sometimes, the most difficult part of fully utilizing our minds is freeing ourselves of the constraints built in by our experience and environment.  For example, it’s hard to imagine a world with the same gravity as the moon because it is something we take as a given.  Life would be different in many ways.  Yet, that’s what people with aggressive minds deal with.  While these people are, for the most part, not perceived as “aggressive”, we would often be surprised by who is and is not an aggressive thinker.

The goal in identifying aggressive thinkers is to encourage us, as managers and investors, to differentiate between people who are simply aggressive without bringing anything new to the table and those who may be less inclined to grab you by the shirt but can bring the future to our doorsteps.  Unfortunately, in a business context these people may also be shy and unlikely to undertake the burdens and risks of starting a new business. 

It is up to us to not be overwhelmed by aggressive personalities and to be receptive to aggressive minds.  The latter may be harder to identify, but once identified they can be tremendously valuable in business and society, in general.

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