IAP Exercise 3.2: Your Personality


Visually express aspects of your personality that make you unique.


Gosh. It’s difficult to think this through. I guess after living with yourself for >60 years you take yourself for granted. But here goes.

The defining moment of my life was when, at the age of five, following the death of my father, somebody said to me ‘you are the man of the house now’. It was many many years before I understood the impact of these words.

As part of my business reading, I came across a book called ‘The Leadership Mystique’ by the eminent Dutch psychologist Manfred Kets de Vries. Under the heading ‘Making reparation’ de Vries (1) describes me perfectly. I clearly remember the feeling of disquiet reading my life on a page. He said:

Many successful (his word, I dont describe myself as such) leaders fall into the category of reparation seekers. Those who do often share some or all of the following traits relating to narcissistic development:

– They often have a background of an absent father – either remote or disceased – and a strong, supportive mother.

– They were forced to take on the authority position in the family early on (especially those who lost their father at a young age) and were thus someone overstimulated. They were age inappropriately put in a responsible position.

– They tend to be competitive (a pattern that manifests itself throughout life), and they are often willing to speak their mind and confront authority.

– Because they’ve found people who believe in them and support them, they demonstrate great courage and resilience in dealing with failure; they are not easily intimidated, and they strongly believe in fair process.

So given that background some of my specific characteristics are as follows:

  • I have been determined and absolutely target focused throughout my life,
  • I have absolutely no interest in the minutiae of everyday life, and
  • I am Fiercely independent.

Expressing these characteristics visually

I always wear black.
I don’t open mail.
I grow black peppers.


(1) De Vries, M., 2006. The Leadership Mystique. 2nd ed. Harlow: FT Press, p.88.

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