Success is defined by the accomplishments people make in their lives. These accomplishments are underscored by their abilities to lead and inspire others. Many theorists have pondered what characteristics and traits lead people to have such a passionate drive towards success. Donald Trump is one of these triumphant individuals, who despite adversity have accomplished unrenowned achievements. In order to understand what has made Donald successful, his character traits must be analyzed and compared to acknowledged theory. Donald Trump is a true American success story and his approach to business, along with his personality, must be closely explored.
Donald Trump was born in New York City on June 14, 1946, to Fred and Mary Trump and is the fourth of five children. Fred Trump was a self-made successful real estate developer, who became a millionaire by the time Donald was born. He built modest homes and apartment buildings and liked to stay out of the spotlight. He was a man of strong conviction and self-confidence and instilled in his children the importance of believing in themselves, being optimistic and striving for success (Slater, 2005). The Trumps lived well but simply and were not flamboyant in their spending. Donald’s parents were frugal in the sense that they knew it was not easy to make money and that money should be treated with respect (Trump). Fred was strict with his children but a devoted husband and father. Mary was a traditional housewife but had a flair for the dramatic and was enchanted by royalty and glamour (O’Brien, 2005). She had a great sense for showiness, loved to organize family parties and events, and was always the star of the show.
Donald has said that, when it comes to real estate, his dad was his best teacher. He claims he began to learn as a small child when playing at his father’s feet, as he listened to his father conduct business over the phone with building contractors. Donald boasts that, by the age of ten, he knew more about erecting a building than many adults did (Slater, 2005). During school vacations, Donald and his brothers would tag along with their father to help with projects and to collect rents. He truly admired his father. He wanted to follow in his footsteps but not to have to walk in his father’s shadow. He wanted to achieve greatness on his own and be known as Donald Trump, not Fred Trump’s son.
In his youth, Donald was pretty wild and rambunctious. As early as the second grade, he punched his music teacher and gave him a black eye. By the age of thirteen, his parents had lost patience with him and shipped him off to New York Military Academy. Donald quickly adapted to this iron-fisted environment and here he began to develop his competitive nature and an awareness of his appearance (O’Brien, 2005). He strove to be successful at everything he did. He excelled in both academics and sports and discovered one of the character traits he is now most known for, his self-confidence. Attending the military academy was the turning point in Donald’s life, where he began to develop his personality and become the Donald Trump the world knows today.
Fred Trump had always hoped his sons would all join him in his business, and at various times they did. Fred Jr., Donald’s brother, did not care for the business, and did not get along with his father very well. He left the business and became a pilot. He was a troubled man, and at the age of 42 died of a heart attack and alcoholism. This was one of the worst events Donald claims to have experienced. For this reason, he has never smoked nor drank. Donald believed that most people were self-serving and that many took advantage of his brother. After his brother’s death, Donald vowed to always be on guard and to be untrusting of everyone (Slater, 2005).
After completing an associate’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, he went to work for his father for five years. Donald’s father, who kept his dealings in Brooklyn and Queens, made it big on a smaller scale, but Donald was determined to make it big on a larger one; so he packed up all of his belongings and moved to Manhattan, the heart of New York. He continued to work for his father, and when he began to consider moving to California and going into show business, an associate convinced him that real estate was truly his forte (O’Brien, 2005).
When Donald moved to Manhattan, his bank account and wallet were practically empty but that did not stop him. Trump used his negotiating skills and persistence to join an exclusive club in New York, which catered only to the elite. Recognizing his magnetism and ingenuity, the club let Donald join strictly on the condition that he would leave the other members’ wives alone. He did not intend to use the club to play polo and sail on yachts, but rather to use his membership to make contacts and that is exactly is what he did. (AskMen.com, 2005).
Trump had made himself one of the most powerful real estate businessmen in the 1980s with the ownership of several buildings such as Trump Towers, Trump Parc, and The Plaza Hotel, as well as the New Jersey Generals football team. He also invested in the casino business in Atlantic City and New Jersey. Due to his impetuous nature though, Donald rushed into many ventures without planning ahead. He got himself deep in debt and a recession forced him into bankruptcy. He climbed to his feet, wiped the dirt off of his knees, and came back fighting and more determined than ever. (AskMen.com, 2005).
In 2004, Donald teamed up with NBC to produce and star in a television reality show, The Apprentice. This quickly became the number one new show on television. Each season begins with a group of contestants with backgrounds in various enterprises, typically including real estate, restaurant management, political consulting, sales and marketing. During the show, these contestants live in a communal house, allowing their relationships to build. They are placed into task teams and each week are assigned a task which requires selecting a project manager for the task. The winning team receives a reward, while the losing team faces a boardroom showdown in order to determine which team member should be eliminated from the show. The premise of the show, which bills itself as the “ultimate job interview,” is to conduct a job talent search for a person to head one of Trump’s companies. The position starts with an “Introductory” one-year contract with a starting yearly salary exceeding six figures, $250,000 to be exact. The Apprentice is just another success to add to Trumps report card. (Woopidoo.com).
Donald likes to be closely involved in every aspect of his business. When any new construction is under way, he is very much like his father. He always visits the construction sites and likes to micromanage his projects. He haggles with project managers, meets with foremen and also discusses the jobs with construction workers themselves.
As to his personal life, Donald is currently in his third marriage. He was married to his first wife, Ivana, for 13 years and had three children from the marriage, two boys and a girl. Donald’s second marriage to wife Marla, lasted for six years. They had one child, a baby girl. Donald married again in 2005 to a Slovenian model, Melania Knauss, and they recently had a baby boy.
Donald’s aggressions and one-sided focus are what allowed him to break down the existing barriers to obtain his goals of becoming successful as a developer. With that being said, there is a sad and dark side to Donald Trump; it is believed that he suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His OCD is to buy and build whatever comes to his mind. His actions time and time again have proven that, when he sets his sights on something, he just goes for it no matter what. Trump does not appear to have any set strategies.
Many times, Donald Trump’s impulsiveness does not let him see what will happen after he makes that first pivotal step in any direction. In addition, Donald’s concern for neatness and appearance extends deeper regarding cleanliness. He has had a lifelong aversion to germs and is a self-professed germ-phobic. He avoids too much hand shaking, and washes his hands thoroughly and as often as possible. He would refuse to put food in his mouth after shaking someone’s hand. He feels this keeps him safer from the risk of contracting any illnesses. Donald Trump is a ripe candidate for further analyses of psychological theory.
Carl Jung, a neo-freudian theorist, believed in not just the unconscious but rather the collective unconscious, which was ideas or memories that are part of a person’s biological heritage and these inherited tendencies, such as family, faith and fears, predispose us to view the external world in certain ways. Jung referred to these ideas or memories as archetypes. Jung described many archetypes but focused on three specific ones: the animus/anima, the shadow and the self (Heffner, 2002). This theory would state that Donald Trump was born to be the person he is now.
Jung also believed that spiritual needs are just as important, and possibly more important, as biological needs. “Introverts try to harmonize inner conflicts into a whole self. Extroverts try to harmonize self with social realities (Spencer).” Jung would have considered Trump an extrovert because Donald is focused and driven with society around him. Jung would have also considered Trump a poster child because those who help themselves succeed in life, and that is what Trump had been taught and encouraged to believe. Jung also stated that people look for those that are like themselves, and much of that influence comes from our parents. Donald Trump’s mother had a visible influence on his need to be in the impeccably dressed, and always in the spotlight. Donald’s father was a very successful businessman, so that is what Donald knew to look for in life. He has always been associated with rich and powerful people in many different fields, from radio and his connection with Howard Stern to sports and political figures.
Gordon Allport, a trait theorist, wanted to understand the differences between people in personality and to see how the different characteristics and processes interact and function together in an integrated way. Allport believed that people had traits. He classified these traits into specific categories: individual, common, cardinal, central, secondary, motivational, and stylistic traits. He believed that every person had a small number of specific traits, known as central traits that predominate the personality.
Allport believed that once in a while one of the central traits would become a dominant trait, known as a cardinal trait. The central and cardinal traits are environmentally influenced. (Heffner, 2002). According to Allport’s theory, Donald Trump’s traits would be classified into certain categories. For instance, a central trait would be self-confidence and a cardinal trait would be determination.
Allport also believed that humans act on the tendency to satisfy basic survival needs, which he referred to as opportunistic functioning, and that most of what we do in life is what makes us who we are. He was a strong proponent of acknowledging ones self-image (Boeree, 2006). Donald Trump has a very positive self-image, made obvious from the way he dresses to the things he creates. His name, Trump, is on everything he has built. He works on the belief that he cannot fail and, even if he fails, it is due to someone else not doing the job to his standards.
As a biological theorist, Hans Eysenck’s theory is based primarily on physiology and genetics. He believes that habits are learned, but he also believes that people can grow out of personality that is genetically inherited. Eysenck believed that “the human brain has excitatory and inhibitory neural mechanisms (Neill, 2005).” Eysenck hypothesized these two mechanisms were regulated by a structure known as ARAS in the brain stem. The ARAS lets stimulus into the brain. If it lets a lot of stimulus into the brain, chronic over arousal, a person is an introvert and if the ARAS does not allow much stimulus, chronic under arousal, into the brain, a person is an extrovert (Heffner, 2002).
Eysenck determined that all people could be categorized into two groups: neurotic and extrovert-introvert. Everyone exhibits specific responses to both internal and external stimuli. Both neuroticism and extroversion can be seen in Donald Trump, as he has admitted to not wanting to shake hands
because of his fear of germs. He said that he finds the hand shaking ritual barbaric. Donald’s personality has always shown him to be an extrovert by nature, which has served him well in his business dealings. Being outgoing and upfront is how he influences lucrative deal offers to be signed, and has added to his success.
As a humanistic theorist, Carl Rogers believed all people need to maintain and enhance life, and this tendency for growth is known as self-actualization (Boeree, 2006). There are levels on the path to self-actualization. One level is the desire to preserve and enhance oneself, also known as the physical level, and the higher level, the psychological level, is to seek out new experiences, master new skills, quit boring jobs, and find more exciting ones. Once a person has achieved self-actualization, they are known as a fully functioning person and able to live a life full of meaning, challenges and fulfillment. Rogers believed self-actualization was primarily determined by events in a person’s childhood experiences and these experiences need to be positive.
According to Rogers’ theory, Donald Trump would be a fully functioning person. It is very evident in Mr. Trump’s actions as to how he feels about himself. Rogers claims that if you feel smart and/or think that you are smart, then it becomes part of your self-concept. Donald Trump is very confident and has an enormous ego, which has helped him throughout his career. This ego carries over to Donald Trump’s personal relationships in dealing with women as well as business associates.
He has always surrounded himself with beautiful women regardless of the fact that many believe he is not all that handsome. This confidence serves as a magnet that makes people want to be in his presence. He has a good image of himself but never lets his self-image get in the way of what he is after, thus even business associates cannot resist giving in to him. This, in turn, feeds his ego. He also feels that he is superior to others in the business world and, even through his financial troubles, has always managed to emerge as though it was just a bump in the road and part of his plan.
George Kelly, a cognitive theorist, believed that, because people are trying to understand what was going on around them, people are scientists. Kelly’s theory is known as the fundamental postulate, which states people act in a manner with how people expect the world to be based on their interpretations of past events (Spencer). In other words, people use past experiences in life to anticipate future events. An example would be if we view the world and people around us as friendly and safe, then we would find it easy to engage with others for advice.
If we see the world and people around us as cruel and selfish, then we would strictly rely on our own abilities to interpret things. For a long time, Donald Trump vowed not to trust anyone after the death of his brother and has only relied on himself to build his fortune, which gives the idea that he trusts no one more than himself. This mistrust is why he most likely involves himself so deeply in all facets of his business and micromanages. In some cases, this mistrust in others has been his undoing in his some of his business dealings and possibly his marriages.
Needless to say, Donald Trump’s flamboyance success and highly public persona make Donald a perfect specimen for a personality evaluation. Many of the theorists believe that a lot of Donald’s personality stems from his relationship with and the influence of his parents. This includes his mother’s influence on being in the spotlight and his father’s sense of being a disciplined businessman. Donald Trump is a very confident, competitive, successful and extravagant businessman who has made himself instantly recognizable wherever he goes. Whatever theory one may have, all agree that Donald Trump is a very goal driven person and it is believed that he will always resurface no matter how his investments turn out. Trump summed up his future in these few words, “Anyone who thinks my story is anywhere near over is sadly mistaken.” (AskMen.com, 2005).”
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Heffner, C. L. (2002, August 21). Personality theory: an introduction. Retrieved April 26, 2006, from AllPsych Online: The Virtual Psychology Classroom Website: http://allpsych.com/personalitysynopsis/index.html.
Neill, J. (2005, September 19). Personality: theory & perspectives. Retrieved April 26, 2006, Website: http://www.wilderdom.com/personality/personality.html.
O’Brien, T. L. (2005). TrumpNation. The art of being Donald. Warner Business Books. New York, NY.
Slater, R. (2005). No such thing as exposure. Pearson Education, Inc. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Spencer, W. B. (n.d.). Theories of personality. Retrieved April 26, 2006, from Eastern Illinois University Psychology Department Website: http://psych.eiu.edu/spencer/.
Trump, D. (2004). Trump How to Get Rich. New York, NY: Random House.
Woopidoo.com. (n.d.). Donald trump biography. Retrieved April 28, 2006, from Woopidoo! Website: http://www.woopidoo.com/biography/donald-trump.htm.
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