Have you ever thought about what drives certain people to achieve superhero-like feats? People such as Thomas Edison who, by himself, amassed over 1,000 US Patents, and potentially twice that many world wide.
Maybe it’s someone like John-Paul DeJoria, who went from being homeless to creating not one, but two business empires with Patron Tequila and Paul Mitchell hair care products. How about Richard Branson who has built an empire in music, airlines, telecom and is now pursuing the same on the high seas and in outer space?
Some people seem to have gifts that others just do not possess. They expect to succeed and only see a path of success ahead. Roadblocks are just speed bumps that they find a way to maneuver past. One such man was known as William Moulton Marston, the man who created the essence of the polygraph, the DISC behavioral-style science as well as the industry-changing superhero Wonder Woman.
Any of these achievements would have made Marston a memorable character in the annals of history, but achieving all three seemingly unrelated things makes him a bit of a marvel.
The Man, the Myth
William Marston was born in 1893 in Massachusetts. Today he’d probably be labeled as a renaissance man, Marston was a psychologist, lawyer, writer and inventor, finding success in many different walks of life. Clearly someone interested in helping others, the self-help author spent his entire life championing the causes of women.
As both a self-help author and comic book writer, Marston used his creativity and intentionality to further his causes. When his wife noted that her blood pressure rose when she became angry, it spurred an idea in Marston that, perhaps, a connection may exist between emotion and blood pressure.
The Lie-Detector Test
Pursuing this idea, he created the systolic blood pressure test which was a main component of the polygraph. Armed with Marston’s test, John Augustus Larson created the modern polygraph, a test used to this day to help determine whether or not a person is telling the truth.
As a psychologist, Marston did his fair share of writing and one of those essays he wrote turned into a publication known as Emotions of Normal People, released in 1928. Emotions proposed a theory known as DISC, which described unique behavioral patterns of individuals.
Emotions of Normal People indicated, according to Wikipedia, that:
- Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
- Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
- Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
- Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment
DISC came, by design, from Marston's search for measurements of the energy of behavior and consciousness. Marston did not develop an assessment or test from his model, although others later did. He did, however, apply his model and theory in the real world when he consulted with Universal Studios in 1930 to help them transition from melodramatic silent pictures to movies with audio and the need for more natural gestures and facial expression by actors.
Today, millions of people use DISC assessments to uncover valuable insights about behaviors and to help them find the right job with the right company by better knowing themselves.
Wonder Woman to the Rescue
Marston also believed that comic books could be used as a learning tool. He came in contact with a comic publisher named Max Gaines who hired Martston to be an educational consultant for his comic book companies that would later become DC Comics, the iconic comic book company.
Not sure of whether or not a female superhero would be a big hit or a massive flop, Marston created Wonder Woman writing under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941. To this point, there were no female superheroes. As a champion of women’s rights, he saw this as a glaring gap in the world and set out to change it for the better.
Not only was Wonder Woman a huge hit, she remains a staple in the world of comics to this day. Whether it was Marston’s creation of this character that gave women everywhere a new icon to aspire to, his contributions to the creation of the lie detector, or his invention of the DISC model, Marston was clearly a renaissance man who contributed much to mankind and left a legacy in many different walks of life.
Marston provided the world with many useful tools. Now we have the opportunity to use these tools for our own good. Using DISC to help us find the right job for our behavioral style is a great place to start.
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