Understanding the Four Personalities
When making any type of major change in society, there are always a series of three steps. These steps are enacted by four specific types of people. These four types of personalities are: the explorers, the pioneers, the settlers, and the gunslingers.
It does not matter what type of change we are talking about: political, economic, business, art, technology, neighborhoods, spirituality…the series of steps and the four types of personalities will always be the same.
Understanding the Four Personalities in the Old West
In the old west, there were four types of people: the explorers, the pioneers, the settlers, and the gunslingers.
The explorers left the comforts of the known environment for something new, something better. They set out across the mountains and deserts to explore the unknown. An explorer would often traverse the same mountain several times, looking for the best route. He would often curse himself for taking the wrong route, especially in winter, when he would get stuck on the mountain top. The explorer would run into many unforeseen troubles, and deal with them the best he could. From time to time, he would return to the civilization he left behind to tell of his adventures.
The crucial aspect to the explorer's character is that he pushes the boundaries of knowledge. He may appear to have crazy ideas, and his ideas may lead him into trouble from time to time, nevertheless, the explorers start breakthroughs in society.
The pioneer picks up on the explorer's tales. The pioneer has learned from several explorers about what might lie beyond. The pioneer hears the descriptions of the lands where each explorer has been. The pioneer sees an opportunity - perhaps a verdant valley for ranching and farming, perhaps a mine of silver or gold - and sets out to seize this opportunity. However, there are many difficulties: the pioneer must make the road, irrigate the land, and bring cattle, seeds, and equipment across miles of territory. Moreover, the pioneer has no guarantee that what he hears is there, nor a specific map to lead him. However, the pioneer learns the most he can from the explorers, and prepares himself the best he can.
The three crucial aspects of the pioneer's character are:
1. He recognizes opportunity
2. He applies knowledge of one area to another
3. He turns possibilities into realities.
In terms of the Old West, the settlers are civilized men with homes, jobs, and often farms. Their grandparents settled at their current spot, so settlers feel comfortable. Crossing into the unknown like the explorer or the pioneer does not appeal to them.
However, after a few pioneers have literally paved the way, the settlers take notice. Once roads have been made, the maps well drawn, and the reports of the verdant valley are numerous enough to be considered true, then the settlers will come.
And when the settlers come, they come in packs. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of settlers will come at a time. Businessmen, clergy, and artists arrive shortly, making the transition complete. When the settlers come, then life in the verdant valley becomes the norm.
The four crucial aspects to the settler's character are:
1. He has little desire for change
2. He is reluctant to see the possibilities
3. He will change only when the path is an obvious choice and the directions are specific
4. He and his fellow settlers, because of their numbers, redefine a radical movement as an accepted norm.
The gunslingers? The gunslingers are never happy. They shoot down everyone's ideas - explorers, pioneers, or settlers. They are quick to shoot down anyone, without thinking, and without reason. In modern terms, gunslingers have an automatic instinct to shoot down any idea that is new or different.
An example of the personalities
As an example of these four characters, we will turn to industry. The explorer is a professor. He performs experiments that may lead nowhere. Sometimes he never finishes a project before going to the next. Yet some of his discoveries are absolutely brilliant, and some have very practical benefits.
The pioneer is a development engineer. He reads about the work the professor has done, and develops the processes. He turns the professor's experiments into products that can be manufactured.
The settlers are the other engineers of the industry, who wait for the new process to work (or fail). When the process succeeds, the settlers adopt it wholeheartedly, and develop their own process with lightning speed.
The gunslingers are the skeptics, who point out the possible technical failures no matter how successful the project eventually becomes.
Understanding where you fit in respect to the others
Everyone has an important role to play in the evolution of major changes in society. Each person has one of those four personalities regarding any particular area of society, and therefore it is important to understand exactly who you are, and what role you play, in order for society as whole to evolve into something better.
Let us now discuss the characters from the perspective of understanding one another. For example, let us assume you are the explorer. How would your activities look? How will you interact with the others?
Explorers: Your Roles in any Major Change
In the arena of improving communities, explorers are often philosophers, artists, philosopher-statesmen, or activists. If you are the explorer, you must keep pursuing your ideas no matter how crazy they are. The majority of your ideas will not work - but that should not bother you, for you enjoy exploration and experimentation regardless of success. You should also make your discoveries available to the pioneer, not hidden away.
*FYI, I consider myself to be an Explorer. I really wanted to be the Pioneer, but soon realized that the Pioneer is not my role. I am the Explorer, and have come to accept it.
Pioneers: Your Roles in any Major Change
The pioneer usually comes from a combination of disciplines. This combination of disciplines allows the pioneer to take a discovery in one arena and apply it to another arena. If you are the pioneer, you have the most important set of responsibilities, for it is the pioneer who does most of the work in creating a real success.
In order to find the brilliant discoveries that have been made, the pioneer may need to search. The pioneer of the Old West may have had to visit the explorer on the mountain. The pioneer of industry might need to visit the explorer in his lab. The pioneer of other areas might "visit" explorers by reading their works and by attending conferences.
The pioneer must also be practical. Because the pioneer is working on something which hasn't been done much, he may run into a few obstacles here and there. He needs to understand exactly what is required to create the change before he begins, so that he may plan accordingly.
Pioneer’s Special Relationship with Settlers
Finally, the pioneer must understand the settlers, and must be able to communicate with them. The pioneer must understand that most people do not want change, and that most people do not care enough to make a stand, even when they desire the end result.
This concept is critical to understand if we are to truly make changes. Public support is required to make changes, yet the public is composed mostly of settlers. Therefore, the pioneer must obtain support from the very people who have the greatest inertia.
The pioneer must have a very sensible strategy to begin with, followed by skills in selling his strategy to the public. The pioneer must find ways to make the settlers involvement as easy as possible for them, yet the activities must result in real effects. On the positive side, once the pioneer has convinced the settlers of his strategy, and the inertia has been removed, a powerful energy will be unleashed.
Settlers: Your Roles in any Major Change
If you are the settler, realize that you do not like change. Realize that you have little desire to take risks. However, try to be open to new ideas, and listen carefully to their validity. You may actually desire the change. If you agree, then it is important for you to give as much support as you can. As a settler you must understand that you must back the pioneer. Remember, it is not just you taking action, it is your fellow settlers as well. A few brave leaders by themselves can do little, but brave leaders with the support of many people can achieve greatness. Positive movement will be limited without you.
We realize that there are four personality types in making changes. The explorer acknowledges that changes can be made and he creates ideas for new changes. The pioneer develops strategies to implement changes, and he convinces the settlers to support the strategy. Once convinced that the strategy is wise, the numerous settlers will make the change a reality. The gunslinger offers constructive criticism which ensures practicality throughout.
Thus, when we wish to make a difference in our environment, we must go through those steps, and we must acknowledge the need for the appropriate people at the appropriate times.
*All progress is made in three stages by these types of people:
The Explorer, The Pioneer, The Settler
*The explorer starts progress. What is once considered crazy will later be the norm.
*The pioneer creates progress in contemporary society. He tempers the explorer's vision with pragmatism, and he creates reality from dreams.
*The settler is satisfied with the status quo, and does not like progress. When the settlers believe in the idea, that is when the idea becomes the norm.
*A fourth personality, gunslingers are never satisfied, and will criticize even the most successful ideas. However, they also serve to ensure that any proposals are practical.
Added Note: This article was originally written in 1995, and published in my book Making America Great. That book (along with this piece) was republished in 2003. The concepts in this article have been major elements of my early presentations and discussions on political reform.
Also, since the original writing, these stages of change have been proven again and again. Most notably through the creation of major political movements and major spiritual movements in the last 10 years. (Both of which I have played a role in).
The Tea Party, 9-12, and Occupy Movements are examples of the Settlers adopting (in large masses) what Explorers and Pioneers in political reform and protests had been doing already. These Movements are examples of the Settlers, by their large numbers, “creating” a movement – and yet the creation began by others earlier. It is only at that moment when the settlers were ready, and the match was struck, that the mass movement came into being.
The spiritual movement is similar. There have been spiritualists for thousands of years, and most recently a major movement in the 1960s-1970s. Yet the spiritual movement is much larger than anything before. Even the most experienced spiritualists will admit that the times, spiritually, are very different than anything before. As I see it, the spiritual “explorers” and “pioneers” have been out there doing their thing for a long time. For many years their ideas seemed crazy. Then people started seeing the reality and effectiveness of what they were saying. And now, the ideas of spiritualism are getting more and more mainstream. More and more “settlers” are coming over from their traditional religion, and embracing the new ways of living which are associated with Spiritualism.