Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Personal Development

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a tool that you can use to help you determine how you perceive the world.  You can use this knowledge to help you view situations in a different manner than you would normally, which will expand your abilities to make the best possible decisions, since you can view each situation from multiple perspectives.

Today I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and was quite surprised at my results.  When I took the same test in high school, I got INTP.  Today I got ENFJ.  Since these are almost completely opposite, I wondered if my personal development had an impact upon my personality.  In retrospect, I feel that it had a great impact on my personality.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is composed of four opposing pairs, each with their own meaning.  When you take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (such as this one) you will get a four letter result, one letter for each pair.  Each letter doesn’t mean that you are a certain way, or that you can’t act another way, but rather you tend to prefer a certain way.

The Personality Pairs

The first letter will be either “I” or “E” and stands for either Introvert (I) or Extrovert (E).  How I’ve come to interpret the differences between these two is that introverts tend to expend energy in social situations and recharge when they’re by themselves, while extroverts gain energy from social situations and their energy tends to fall with no interaction.

The second letter will be either “S” or “N” for Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N).  These letters show how you perceive, with sensing referring to your five senses, and intuition relating to more of an abstract perception.  This letter is about how you gather information. Sensing people look for physical data that you can objectively obtain, while intuitive people get information from their feelings.

The third letter will be either “T” or “F” for Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).  These determine how you prefer to make decisions, whether from a detached, logical perspective (thinking) or from an emotional perspective (feeling).  For example, on a date, a “T” personality person may choose to pursue a relationship because their date has everything that they are looking for.  However, a “F” personality person may have the same exact situation and decide not to pursue that relationship because they have a gut feeling that it’s not for them.  A “T” person lives more by their mind, and a “F” person lives more by their heart.

The final letter will be either “J” or “P” for Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).  This final letter shows how you relate to the external world.  Judging people tend to want a concrete ending to a solution, while perceiving people tend to want to leave things open.

Your Personality and Personal Development

Having experienced both sides of the personality realm, I am confident that both sides have their positives and negatives.  The first letter, for introvert or extrovert, has the biggest impact on your life.  The benefits of being an extrovert are numerous, including better inter-personal skills, more and higher quality friends, a better relationship support structure, and increased opportunities.  Likewise, introversion has many benefits, including more clarity through introspection, enhanced concentration, and more accurate and better self evaluation.

Ideally, you should be an extrovert in public settings, like a party or at work, and an introvert when you are alone.  This will allow you to benefit from both sides.  As an introvert for most of my life, I was shy and didn’t talk to very many people.  When I got into personal development, I learned of the benefits of extroversion, and decided to work on my fears associated with talking to others.  Now I’m much more confident around others, and my human relationship skills are much better than they were when I was in high school.  However, I understand what it’s like to be an introvert, and I love to meditate and introspect.  I’m more familiar with myself and my personal boundaries because I’ve pushed myself to my limits through my attempts at personal growth.

For the second letter, sensing or intuition, I am the same as I was in high school, on the intuition side.  If you are on the sensing side, I encourage you to try to pick up on the bigger picture that’s being presented to you, and try to find the pattern behind what you’re seeing.  I’m going to work on relating to things that are more tangible, and try not to read into things as much.

The third letter, thinking or feeling, I encourage you to try the opposite of what you got.  I did an experiment last year where I began to explore the intangible connections between myself and others.  I found that as I did this, others began to open up to me more, my relationships improved, and I was able to be more empathetic.  If you’re already like that, try to make decisions from a more logical perspective, and see how it works out for you.

Finally, the last letter for judging or perceiving, like the others, try to do the opposite and see how it works out for you.  I’ve always been on the fence with this one, even in high school, so I’m not sure how to exclusively be one or the other.  For me, it all depends on context, and the context determines which way I should act.  If you have any suggestions on how I could explore this letter further, please let me know.

Your personality has a great effect on how you live your life.  Explore the other options to see if they work out better for you.  The worst thing that can happen is that you find that you don’t like being the other way, and you can switch back to being whichever letters you were before.  This is an exploration exercise, and sometimes it works out great, and sometimes it doesn’t.  However, you will never know unless you try.

Let me know what you have learned in the comments below.

– Neal

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