Have you ever felt like the environment you were in was not a good fit….like you were a round peg in a square hole?
Have you ever wondered why some people thrive while others wither under the same conditions? Einstein once said "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." What is it about an environment and circumstances that enable some people to be in their element while making others feel like a fish out of water?
Personality Type Implications
Our personality is partly due to our inborn “Nature”, it boils down to understanding people’s innate tendencies to use their minds in different ways and how this affects their behaviours and interactions with their inner and outer worlds. We are also shaped by our “Nurture”, our experiences and environmental influences.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who developed and first published his psychological type theory in the 1920’s believed that differences between people are not random. Personality preferences are innate—“inborn predispositions” which are then shaped by environmental influences, such as family, culture, and education.
Jung identified two mental activities, which he called perceiving and judging and two opposite ways (four mental processes) that people perceive (sensing and intuition) and judge (thinking and feeling).
We can and do use both, but have an innate preference for using one of the two. The basic mental activities and processes look something like this:
When PERCEIVING (taking in information), we prefer to use either:
- Sensing or Intuition
When JUDGING (organising the information and forming conclusions), we prefer to use either:
- Thinking or Feeling
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator was developed to make Jung’s theory of psychological types understandable and useful in people’s lives. Katharine Briggs spent 20 years studying, developing and applying Jung’s theory and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the questions in 1943 that became the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument. The 16 MBTI Personality types illustrate the impact on our personality of the dynamic interaction between our preferred energy systems or orientations and mental functions and processes and this helps us to understand our unique personality style and others. Identifying and understanding our personality type will help us to better understand ourselves, how we are energised, how we take in information, make decisions and deal with the external world.
Personality type is a key tool for personal and professional development and is useful for recognising patters in our behaviour; how we lead, influence, communicate, collaborate, negotiate business and personal priorities and manage stress. It can also help us to better understand and manage criticism or perceived workplace or personal shortcomings.
Importance of Knowing Ourselves
A staple wisdom since ancient times has been to “Know thyself”. The MBTI Instrument has stood the test of time and is the most widely used personality assessment in the world today, used by most Fortune 100 companies and is a great way of getting to know yourself. As all types have potential strengths and possible pitfalls or blind spots, we can use type understanding to help us to identify our strengths, our characteristics and how others may see us, to reflect on our skills and interests and to evaluate our priorities and needs. Equipped with these insights we can better understand our characteristics and behaviours, build self-confidence in our strengths and abilities and proactively address our potential pitfalls and blind spots, identify areas for growth development. It helps us to understand why we might feel frustrated when we cannot express our gifts and be appreciated for our contributions.
More importantly, it helps us to recognise the type of self-defeating behaviours or responses that we may revert to if we are not able to express our gifts and be “seen” and appreciated for our contributions. It also helps us to recognise and understand the “uncharacteristic” behaviours and patterns we might display when under great stress. It helps us to better understand why our stressors are having the impact they have on us and to identify what we need to adjust to make the situation less stressful.
All too often we get caught up functioning more as products of the environment and the people, culture and societal norms that have shaped us and we lose touch with our innate nature and needs. We subconsciously take on other people’s rules and expectations, often at an early age and without question and consideration of whether these are really serving us and allowing us to express our gifts most fully. In the busy world we live in it is all too easy to lose touch with ourselves, with who we really are and are capable of being, with what excites us and what we need to thrive and fulfil our purpose.
We might find ourselves living our lives to other people’s rules and expectations, absorbing their attitudes and orientations of who we should be and how we should function. It is no wonder that we can lose ourselves and start to question why we’re feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. We have a growing sense that something is missing and that there must be more to life. We want to get out of the day-to-day rut and make life and our work more enjoyable again, but can’t quite pinpoint what it is that we can do.
Knowing our personality type’s preferred orientations and functions allows us to identify the environment that would be conducive to our feeling of success, fulfilment and well-being and ultimately empowers us to take control and responsibility for devising goals and strategies for designing the environment, lives and careers in which we can flourish. Knowing ourselves allows us to more fully express ourselves and our gifts into the world and to live a life of meaning, purpose and fulfilment.
Download the free MBTI Personality Type Fundamentals Poster below.
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