Observer types investigate and improve their world. They have to investigate, because they have a tendency to question received wisdom. Like René Descartes, their thinking begins with doubting. And they usually see how they could make something better—better than what people have been settling for—better than what people had thought they wanted. Five-wing-Sixes are true contrarians.
Observer types possess superior perceptual and reasoning skills, which, nonetheless, often fail them when it comes to understanding people. Although Five-wing-Sixes are very interested in people, they are at the same time wary of being overwhelmed by them and thus feel the need to erect barriers. Some of the most sensitive Five-wing-Sixes are too defended to be able to make the empathetic connections that would enable them to find out what others want and expect from them. Consequently, they may come off as socially inept. Yet Five-wing-Sixes’ principles and interests almost always keep them engaged in the world, often with spectacular success.
Probable examples of this personality type are René Descartes, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Wozniak, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Dick Cheney, Neil Armstrong, John Grinder, Eckhart Tolle, Alan Turing, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Isaac Asimov. Other reported examples are Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, B.F. Skinner, and V.I. Lenin.
The following quotation from Steve Wozniak’s autobiography (iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, 2006, p. 18) richly illustrates the motivations of a well-rounded Five-wing-Six.
That’s how I was, how I’ve always been—and still am, it seems. I’ve always had this technical side and then this human side. For instance, I remember telling my dad when I was ten that when I grew up, I wanted to be an engineer like him, but I also remember saying I wanted to be a fifth-grade teacher, like Miss Skrak at my school. Combining the human and the technical turned out to be the main thing for me later on. I mean, even when it came down to something like building a computer, I remember watching all those geeks who just wanted to do the technical side, to just put some chips together so the design worked.
But I wanted to put chips together like an artist, better than anyone else could and in a way that would be the absolute most usable by humans. That was my goal when I built the first computer, the one that later became the Apple I. It was the first computer to use a keyboard so you could type onto it, and the first to use a screen you could look at. The idea of usable technology was something that was kind of born in my head as a kid, when I had this fantasy that I could someday build machines people could use. And it happened!
Anyway, anyone you meet who knows me will tell you that that is exactly me—an engineer, but an engineer who worries about people a lot.