Monday, September 29, 1997

INFP Revisited

For the second time in my life I took a personality test. For the second straight time, I failed. I have no personality or at least my personality barely registers. Tee hee. Just joshing you all. I am nothing if not Mr. Personality.

Once again I took the Briggs-Myers test and the results were the same: I am an I (introvert rather than extrovert), N (intuitive rather than sensing), F (feeling rather than thinking), P (perceptive rather than judging). What was a bit scary this time around was that my scores in each area were more clearly defined meaning I am becoming even more David than ever before. And believe me that's the last thing this world needs and exactly what I have been working hard to avoid.

In a way it was discouraging to get the same results as four years back. The events that have gone down in that period most certainly have changed me and colored my personality and one almost wants to cling to the belief that at the very least the personality isn't one of those things that is etched in stone and predetermined. One thing that struck me while reading the material of what being an INFP means was the statement that as someone who is more intuitive than sensing I often let my inspirations lead me, good or bad, for better or for worse. If there is one epitaph that would be appropriate to put on my tombstone that might be it. The bigger mistakes I have made in my life have often been caused by feeling a certain sense of inspiration and believing deeply that is the path I should follow. That many of those paths ended where they did in logical retrospect shouldn't come as any surprise yet each dead end takes a little more out of you. Do Itashi-Mashete.

To have its employees take the Briggs- Myers is sort of a 90's thing to do for organizations who have bought into the importance of the concepts of Quality, mission and vision statements, valuing employees and seeing the importance of the value of the employees' ideas to improve the day to day business. A happy employee is a productive employee; an unhappy employee is counterproductive to the goals of the many. To know your personality type is to know how that might effect the manner in which you interact with your boss and co-workers and their personality types. The last time I took the test I was so stunned at how closely my defined personality type matched the written description that I went out and deliberately sought tasks that went against what I was supposed to do best. Call it strengthening your weaknesses and weakening the vanity of your strengths.

While it's not exactly the most comforting thought in the world to think that your personality can be so scientifically analyzed and put into neat little boxes it is helpful to understand better how your own thought processes work (or don't work) and how you go about assimilating information as well as how those you must work with do the same. The Briggs-Myers even goes so far as to suggest the type of work those in your personality type usually seek or excel in (I think Mom's told her she would be an outstanding truck driver). For an INFP the occupational field types were defined as "arts and communications."

To put absolute credence in the validity of these tests would be a tad foolish of course. An organization is only as good as its individual parts. The individual parts are only as good as their ability to adapt to their organization's challenges. In other words in the best mental institutions the analytical standardized tests are only as effective in judging a patient's state of mind and potential to be cured as the group ceramics class. Or so I would hope. In the workplace this translates into the high chance of failure between two co-workers if they base their interaction on test driven definitions of how they should interface with each other. I may not know much about people but I do know enough to know to get along with another is to try to understand what makes them unique not what links them with other similar personality types.

So to better understand the bias' of the mind that puts together this publication every week let it be said that as an INFP I may not say much and I have a tendency to isolate myself. I don't always make logical, structured decisions because I value spontaneity and creativity above all else. What I am seeking in life isn't so much a Cancer or an Aries, but rather anyone who can shift boxes when the need be. And damn if that isn't getting harder and harder to do as the years go by.

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