M-B #6: What Not to do with Myers-Briggs Personality Theory

As I hinted at the end of yesterday’s post, there are definitely weak spots in each type, because there are weak spots in all of us.

One of the biggest temptations when one is sure of one’s type is to use the “typical behavior” of the type description to excuse personal flaws.

That flaws are endemic to a type (and to humanity in general) does not make them required or admirable. If anything, they should be considered a warning to take special notice and focus on character issues to address.

One book I read put it this way:

Personality is what you’re born with. Character is what you do with it.

In my mind this is vaguely connected to the line I saw somewhere on Twitter:

Don’t confuse my personality with my attitude. My personality is who I am, and my attitude depends on who you are. (Ha!)

  • If you are an Extravert, that is not an excuse to railroad anyone, or do their talking for them.  Learn to listen, and slow down.  Exercise what discipline it takes to be comfortable alone with your life and thoughts.
  • If you are an Introvert, don’t use that as an excuse to hide from the world or wait for it to pursue you and expertly draw out your brilliance. If your skills are that amazing, you owe it to the world to develop enough social ability to communicate your discoveries in way understood by the culture you live in.
  • If you are a Sensor, think beyond the past and certainly the present.  Recognize your life is what you’re building now, and be careful of immediate gratification at the cost of future security.
    • Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
  • If you’re an iNtuative, figure out where the ground is, so you can walk on it. This is where most of your life must be lived, so know how to keep your balance.  Learn how to be present in the present; don’t give in to discontent that the “next big thing” has not yet arrived– and that *life* won’t arrive until it does.
  • If you’re a Thinker don’t assume logic alone will solve all problems. After all, “Logic is the way to go wrong with confidence.” Don’t trick yourself into thinking that relationships are optional or only for the weak.
  • If you’re a Feeler, remember that people on the opposite side of your issue feel as strongly about subject as you do: and passion alone is not enough to justify (or sustain) either side of the cause.  Remember there are people you can never please no matter how you try, and you will eventually have to make a stand or you will disappear into all the selfish people who only want your energy.
  • If your outward orientation is your Judging function, remind yourself there will always be things outside of your control.  And this is a good thing.  Be thankful you don’t have the responsibilities of God without His wisdom. Remember that most people enjoy running their own lives as much as you enjoy running yours.  Let them.
  • If your outward orientation is your Perceiving function, remind yourself that you are not the only one whose comfort matters. It’s no one’s job to accommodate you and your flexible view of life.  If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make one. If you say you’ll be on-time, or that you’ll deliver, prove your word. Learn how to make a decision and follow through.

Why get this specific? Because I believe that what we call *maturity* is essentially an acquired fluency along the full spectrum of each set of preferences.  One will always be easier than the other, but we shouldn’t let that trick us into devaluing the preference that demands more effort from us.

All types will do well to remember:

When you screw up, you always have a reason you want a chance to explain.
Assume other people are the same.

One thought on “M-B #6: What Not to do with Myers-Briggs Personality Theory

  1. Brooke says:

    I love the personality vs attitude quote.

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