Sometimes we have opportunities that wind up shining a big old spotlight on those dim recesses we try not to think about too much.
I recently took a Meyers-Briggs personality type inventory for professional reasons. The testing itself was painless and rather bland – I answered a bunch of “fill in the bubble” questions about various preferences and proclivities. But boy, oh boy, did my results turn on that spotlight!
You can find more information about what the test is and what it means here, among many other places on line. Basically, it tests your tendencies (or “preferences”) in two areas: Mental processes, and mental orientations.
The mental processes portion looks at how you take in information, and how you make decisions. So, for example, you might prefer to take in information using your five senses (making you a “sensate” type), or you might prefer to take in information using your intuition. The former people tend to be very concrete in their perceptions, the latter, very abstract and “big picture.” As to decision making, you are either a “thinker” or a “feeler.”
The mental orientation portion looks at whether you draw your energy from others or from within (making you either more extroverted or more introverted), and whether you tend to “judge” or “perceive” when managing aspects of your life. The “judger” will take a very structured approach, wanting all the information in detail before moving forward. The “perceiver” is good with a look at the whole forest rather than the individual trees, and is comfortable moving from there.
This is my take on the a very complicated structure, so if you’re an expert in this sort of thing, don’t bother to tell me I’m glossing over it all. I get that. And it makes perfect sense, because my personality type turns out to be ENFP – Extroverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Here’s how people like me are described:
Words, ideas and possibilities spew effortlessly from them. Words are their best friends. They dance around ideas, the more, the merrier. Imaginative, spontaneous, original and enthusiastic, they have a knack for seeing other possibilities, other dreams and options. The world is never as it is but as it could be, as if it were but an artists sketch begging for colour. They initiate change and often are prone to trespassing a few known boundaries to take themselves and others where no one has been before. The status quo tends to lack inspiration.
When inspired, they are fearless and tireless. Their energy will know no limits unless red tape takes over. Routine drags them down. Their faith in possibilities and belief in the benefit of change often inspire others to follow. They are challenging, ingenious and innovative. They will give their best to what appears to be an impossible challenge, a place unknown to man or beast.
They use metaphors, stories, images and analogies to make their point.They love theories and often shape their own. They see patterns emerging. Keen improvisers, they are rarely caught off guard, there is always something up their sleeve. The sky is the only limit.
They are sometimes entertainers, artists or otherwise engaged in public demonstrations that allow their ideas to bloom. Their greatest difficulty is not in initiating projects but in choosing among so many possibilities, setting realistic boundaries, establishing priorities and correctly assessing resources.
Snort! Coffee and a doughnut to anyone who finds previous blog entries that prove all of the above to be true.
Funny thing is, most lawyers test into the extreme opposite corner of the MBTI grid from me – only 9% of my colleagues share my type, and most of the other 91% are ISTJ – concrete, methodical, detail-oriented, tell-it-like-it-is analytical folk. Now, I can DO all of that stuff and I have to, in fact, in order to be able to research a legal problem and provide nuanced advice about how to resolve it. And I enjoy exercising that part of my brain. It’s just that my tendency – especially when I’m not lawyering – is in the complete opposite direction.
I now understand why it is that I feel the need to write (words are my best friends); why I can never, ever follow a recipe exactly as written (innovation/trespassing on boundaries); and why I never seem to have time to do all the things I enjoy (that boundary setting thing again).
It also probably explains why I have a hard time disciplining my mind sufficiently to follow a knitting pattern. I’m thinking of tackling lace knitting, and this will either be a mighty exercise in my non-preferential thinking skills, or a complete fiasco.