The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test (er, psychometric test–I’m not sure I know the difference) which aims to generate some understanding about how a person perceives the world and makes decisions. Most EWBers are familiar with the MBTI and have taken the test at least once. Basically, it creates the four following dichotomies and assigns you to one of the two options to generate a four letter descriptor of your personality:
- Attitude: Extrovert/Introvert
- Functions: Sensing/iNtuition
- Functions: Thinking/Feeling
- Lifestyle: Judging/Perceiving
For more information, visit the Wikipedia article here.
My MBTI is ENFJ. I think this information is limited in its usefulness, but useful nonetheless, in my personal development. The MBTI is just one framework through which behaviours can be analyzed and it therefore cannot give a complete picture of a person. For example, I would never claim to be an extrovert. However, my MBTI result has made me question the pseudo-identity of being an introvert with which I have always sided. As a result, I now see that I am in fact extroverted in groups in which I am comfortable or have a leadership role. The rest of the time, I’m crazy introverted.
As much as I don’t want to, I have to confess that the MBTI has me spot on for the other three metrics (iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging). I generally rely on my gut feeling–often in the face of overwhelming facts–and I can be easily swayed by my own emotions. I have never had any trouble balancing these aspects of myself and see them as descriptors of who I am, not areas that need changing.
I do have a slight problem in the judging (J) vs. perceiving (P) category, though. I am most definitely a J. Before I go on, let me make it clear that “judging”, in this sense, refers to time use and thought processes (in a nutshell). Js need structure and linear progression, whereas Ps… well I don’t really know, because I don’t understand Ps and they easily frustrate me.
The thing is, I love thinking linearly. Everything in life is so much tidier that way! And I just need the safety and security of my beautiful Google calendar, with every hour of my week sectioned off into tidy, categorized events.
This is a problem, folks.
I’m too J.
It’s not just obvious here, either. My J-ness is actually hindering communication with the rest of my team, because we get off topic a lot. Actually, it’s likely that I just notice it a lot, because when we do, I’m left hanging with the last thought I had, too worried that it won’t fit in with the current conversation to put it out into the universe. My thoughts become so focussed on the thought I didn’t get to share that I end up completely lost in the conversation and have no idea what’s going on. That’s how serious this is.
I need to understand P. I need to learn to feel it, love it, and become it.
Okay, so that’s a bit extreme (and kind of weird?), but I certainly would like to learn to be less structure-oriented and more ambiguous in both my use of time and my thought processes. I think doing so would certainly increase my flexibility in terms of time use and would generally lead to increased productivity as a result of better responses to changes in structured time, which are bound to occur. Additionally, lateral thought processes could increase my creativity by moving my focus away from the A-to-B-to-C thing I’ve got going now to more synthesis-and connection-based thinking.
I’m working on it! I need some help with non-linear thinking (any Ps out there with advice?), but I’m getting much better at not scheduling my time so intensely. For example, this weekend I didn’t let myself worry when I fell behind on studying for my exam this morning. I simply changed my goals, communicated the required changes in my schedule to those involved, and carried on. Guess what? Everything turned out fine.