By Marilyn M. Barnewall
June 13, 2010
APES sounds pretty simple so far,
right? It is – and, it isn’t.
To complicate it a bit more, no one
is totally Active and no one is totally Passive – well, possibly people sitting
in asylums regularly talking to psychiatrists are 100 percent.
All people have a certain need for
security and all of us have a certain capacity to manage risk. Some people have
a ten percent risk management capacity and a 90 percent security need. They are
the ones who, when you talk with them, cannot tolerate truth or reality. At an
80 percent security need, their minds are still pretty closed, but they will
listen. They will never change from believing that having a big, safe entity
take care of them represents the best possible life, but they will listen.
The largest group of Passives has a
30 percent tolerance for risk and a 70 percent need for security. The equal and
opposite is true of Actives who have a 70 percent tolerance for risk management
and a 30 percent security need.
The following chart will perhaps
help you understand how APES works.
Risk Tolerance Level: 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Security Need Level: 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%
When Passives have a 30 percent risk
tolerance level – or once their financial wealth is sufficient that whatever
loss taken will not threaten consumer lifestyle – Passives are big consumer
spenders and market investors. Throughout their lives, Passives rely on third
parties – trust officers/bankers, brokers, lawyers, CPAs, and other advisors.
They invest in traditional public market products. They utilize power or their
access to it (for which they often work very hard in political campaigns and
community activities) to help them preserve existing monetary strength,
perceived status, and existing possessions.
Passive liberals think as a group
(there is power in numbers) and view life as a group. They may not always agree
personally with all group members, but seldom publicly disagree. They fear the
risk of group rejection. Passives will suffer a loss of individual freedom to
maintain their group status. This makes them natural team players – and team
players always support political correctness. If one corporate executive
doesn’t find fault with another corporate executive, the other corporate
executive will never find fault with him – and Enron is born. So is Lehman
Brothers and British Petroleum. So is tyrannical government. So are schools
that indoctrinate rather than educate.
In article one, I said control is
exercised internally and power is exercised externally. What, then, are other
logical personality traits of someone whose core motivator is exercised
Passives are external people. They
are the charmers of the world. They express themselves best externally –
another reason so many Passives make successful politicians. It also explains
why, when something goes wrong, Passives always seek an external reason. For
example, people don’t kill people, guns do. Ban guns! They never look within
(an Active trait). “Who is responsible for this Gulf of Mexico mess?” they cry.
They never look where the responsibility lies – inside the group (because it
might present a threat to the group) – so it must be someone else’s fault.
I repeat, power is an external
force, which in the hands of some Passives, is used to gain power positions.
Passives often mistake the power of position for personal power. They like to
show their power. If you can’t demonstrate it, no one knows you have it. One
good way to exhibit power is to empower others. Actually, Passive compassion is
often an exercise in personal ego. Power is used to help others – but it’s
important to have a clear definition of “help.” Does it help unwed mothers to
offer them a life of welfare benefits? Or, does it destroy their human sense of
purpose that provides a meaningful life?
Passives are people oriented. They
are outwardly nice; they are social. They can usually lie easily if telling a
lie protects the group. They rationalize the value of a lie – the greater good.
Protecting the group becomes all important (the higher they climb in life, the more
true this is) because from their viewpoint they are dependent on the success of
the group. They are advocates of group, not individual, rights. They view this
as right and just.
To Actives, small is beautiful and
big equates to power that wants to exercise power over them. They inherently
understand that risk management is the basis of free enterprise and that to
eliminate it is an invitation to tyranny. Actives, quite the opposite of
Passives, are individualists.
Everything that goes along with a
strong sense of individualism goes with the Active personality. Individual
rights not group rights, is primary. To Actives, reading the Constitution of
the United States of America is reading about individual rights, responsibility
and accountability. To them, without individual rights, there are no rights for
any group. Not in the long term.
Actives use but do not rely on
outside third parties when it comes to managing monetary, moral, mental, and
often spiritual wealth. Just as Passives belong to large medical, accounting
legal practices, and work for big corporations, Actives invest in things they
personally control: real estate, new start-up businesses, small/independent medical,
dental, accounting and legal practices, and shops. Because they are not
joiners, they may financially support organizations, but are often not socially
active within them.
When something happens, Actives look
first within – they are internal people (control is an internal exercise). It
is an effort for Actives to communicate effectively but, once taught, they are
quite good at it. Ronald Reagan is one example of an Active whose
communications skills made him an exceptional politician: An Active in politics
who could express himself outwardly.
Actives are politically incorrect.
Their creative drive prevents moral compromise with standards set by others if
the compromise violates personal beliefs. As a result, they are not always the
best team members – at least, as perceived by Passives (who feel obligated to
support the better interests of their “group”). Passives, for example, are good
It is an art Actives must often learn. They are always tempted
to control too many details that should be delegated. As their businesses grow,
it can be one of their biggest weaknesses.
Because they are logical, they are
good negotiators. Actives are compassionate but they show it in ways totally
different than Passives. They believe having a purpose in life is the source of
true happiness and view charitable works as helping people achieve that
objective. Perhaps that is why Actives employ the greatest number of workers at
their independent businesses and practices across the country.
What are other traits that dominate
individualist thought? Self-determination and self-reliance are two of them.
They want to help those without financial resources but do not consider it
“helpful” to harm someone’s character in the process – the two groups define
“help” differently. Actives are task, rather than people, oriented. They are
advocates of social responsibility. They believe no accountability results in
no rights. Rather, non-accountability results in license. Their desire for the
right to determine self-destiny includes small government and less bureaucracy.
Actives have more interesting family challenges because of their belief in
self-destiny. When children become teenagers, an Active parent’s control of
family becomes a difficult high wire act. Passives may allow too much personal
freedom and too little responsibility, Actives the opposite.
Actives generally feel things deeply
but say little. It’s part of their internal nature. They are pro American
sovereignty. Citizenship and immigration are serious business to them. They
respect the Rule of Law and our Constitution. They don’t want it interpreted to
gain political position. They want it obeyed. They want power returned to the
states and, as small business owners, know the damage too much regulation and
high taxation causes. They know it prevents the creation of new jobs.
Some who read the results of APES
research will find it hard to accept because they have difficulty with the
definition of words that may differ from their own. I certainly did when I
began analyzing the data. My definitions of power and control and wealth were
very typical when I began this project.
After 20 years of listening to 5,000
people subtly tell me otherwise, my definitions changed. As I listened to
people talk about wealth, it became apparent they were talking about more than
money. They were talking about the character required to earn it.
APES is an interesting concept that
can be accurately applied to life in the military, to religious faith, to most
things. Unfortunately, we have covered only about 25 percent of what the
research results say, but I hope you utilize the results explained wisely and
well. It can help you understand why someone – either Active or Passive – just
doesn’t get it. It explains why some people don’t like or understand you.
Being disliked isn’t always bad.
It’s just indicative of the wide range of choices we were given by our Creator.
We are all His children. The positive sides of both groups are necessary to a
balanced universe. Whether we choose to represent the positive or negative
sides of our personality potential is up to us.
(c) Marilyn M. Barnewall, June 10, 2010