Everything Else Is Secondary

In which Daniel struggles with one of his least favorite words.


To my dear reader,

Of all the words in the English language, one of my least favorites has always been “leader.” It’s a word I associate with arrogance, with overbearing men, with bureaucracy and rigidity. It’s also a word that holds a great deal of power over the world’s collective imagination. We are all, so it seems, supposed to be striving to be leaders in our fields and communities, because leaders get to live high on their pedestals while the plebeians muck around in the filth. I’ve never felt very empowered, so equating myself with a leader always seemed ludicrous.

It is for this reason, alongside my dislike for teams, that I did not consider myself one until well into college. This isn’t to say that, while in college, I’ve felt that I am better than others – if anything, my eyes have been opened to my insignificance in all fields – but rather that I’ve begun to embrace the idea of setting an example for others.

A big reason for this is, to my surprise, a personality test – the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. The test measures four dichotomies of a personality – introversion vs. extroversion, intuition vs. sensing, thinking vs. feeling, and judgement vs. perception.  It’s been around for more than half a century and is incredibly popular amongst all sorts of fields, as well as controversial. Chances are that, should you bring this test up with a group of people, someone will start flapping their arms and squawking that the test is invalid and unscientific.

I know very little about the test’s origins, current uses or validity. It seems probable that the test measures things that might be too unquantifiable to be precise, and a common argument is that it’s too much of a cage; people can’t be reduced down to four measurements.

My own opinion is that such a test only means as much as you put store in it, and is descriptive, not prescriptive. The results of such a test might only reflect how you feel at the moment you took the test. But that could be said about any assessment of a personality, so in that case, you might as well throw in the towel all together.

Whatever others may feel, looking at my test results on 16personalities.com felt like aspects of myself had been articulated as I’d never been able to. Even if others disagree, I looked at the quote of a fellow ENTJ (extroverted-intuitive-thinking-judging) and thought, I could have written this:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

-Steve Jobs

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert