There is no doubt that people are different. They are wired differently and that wiring lends itself more to certain skills, environments and roles than to other skills, environments and roles. We need to stop thinking about talent as a rare, quixotic quality that only a lucky minority possess and start thinking about it as a relatively common quality that takes infinite forms and is accessible to the vast majority — but only if we understand personality.

In his book Theories of Personality, Richard Ryckman defines personality as ‘the dynamic and organised set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences their cognition, motivations, and behaviours in various situations'. Originating from the Latin persona, which means mask, personality is, however, not a convention designed to disguise character but rather to represent or typify that character.

If I ask you about your personality, or if I ask you to describe a colleague's or friend's personality, three or four descriptive terms are likely to jump out to you. These terms are likely to be the strongest or most obvious aspects of that person's character or nature — obvious at least to you. You may, for example, describe your work colleague as reserved, creative and ambitious, or your friend as loud, energetic and ‘a bit crazy'. These ‘traits' are labels that are often used to describe who someone is. These labels are often indicative of how someone is likely ...

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