Thursday, November 8, 2007

Find Your Strengths, Understand Your Weaknesses

We all know intuitively that people have different personalities. Some people are extremely social, while others like spending long periods of time alone. Some people seem like counselors, so good are they at listening to their friends' travails, while others talk incessantly about themselves with no curiosity as to how someone else might be feeling.

One of the ways you can find the kind of work you are meant for is by figuring out what your personality type is through an objective measure. I did this recently using an internet test based on the Myers-Briggs typing system, and while it was a free online test and not guaranteed to be accurate, I have to say I was fairly impressed with how closely it matched my own strengths and weaknesses.

For example, I am an introvert, which means I draw energy from being alone, whereas an extrovert draws energy from being around people. No wonder, then, why being a writer appeals to me, and why the mere thought of being a salesperson tires me out.

If you're totally unsure of what you need to be doing, taking a test like this can help you at least figure out what you definitely are NOT cut out for, or what you should give serious consideration before diving in.

You say you already know your personality? Possibly, but do you know what your weaknesses are? I already knew I preferred being alone to large social gatherings, but I had never really noticed my predilection for perceiving criticism where none was intended. This is all helpful stuff to be aware of.

After you get your type, visit this page for a more detailed explanation of each type, and see what you learn about your nature. Now, there are criticisms of the typing, and people are too nuanced to be easily categorized, but even if this helps you see general trends in your personality, trends that make certain careers or occupations suddenly seem more or less appealing, then I think it's worth giving it a try.

I'm an INFP. What're you? Tell us in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you've been feeling lousy. I hope you're doing better now!

Interesting post. I think I took the Meyers-Briggs years ago, but just tried the link you posted.

I'm an INFJ, which according to the site you linked to is the rarest-- just 1% of folks are INFJ. Well, I already knew I was a bit of an oddball. In a nutshell, INFJ is:

"Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things until they are done. Extremely intuitive about people, and concerned for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they strictly adhere to. Well-respected for their perserverence in doing the right thing. Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following."

Pretty accurate, actually. Then Mike tried the test. He's an INFJ too. So he IS one in a million! Or at least one in a hundred, heh.

Anonymous said...

We did this same test at my work. I am an INTJ. In the general population INTJs are rare, but there are a ton of us programming computers here. The test is pretty accurate, especially for those that fall to the extremes of the groupings. It's good to realize that while it helps describe personality traits, it doesn't bring into play other important aspects like personal values that will influence what one chooses to do or how she/he interacts with others.

Most of the other co-workers in our department are extroverts and don't understand why us introverts don't want to sing, do cheers, or generally participate in the loud and embarrassing team-building activities they find so fun at departmental meetings. The Meyers-Briggs test did help me understand why some of these co-workers would think those activities are fun even though I wouldn't ever choose to do them on my own.

Interestingly, like you, most of us introverts are engaged in creative interests, whether inside or outside of work. Among us, there are writers, artists, musicians, beer brewers, and jewelers.

Anonymous said...


I've taken a version of the Meyers-Briggs test three times, and I'm pretty sure I took this exact test about four years ago. What's interesting to me is how much life experiences have changed my personality.

Here's how things went:
In college : ENTJ
4 years ago: INFJ.
Today: ISFJ.

No wonder I feel like I'm a "different person" than I used to be!

In any case, quite a bit of the ISFJ seems to fit: For instance "[ISFJs] want to believe the best of people. They value harmony and cooperation, and are likely to be very sensitive to other people's feelings" and "[ISFJs]take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be counted on to follow through." Some of what didn't match is that I am not big on tradition or the idea that "existing systems are there because they work." However, the analysis did remind me of one important piece of advice:
"[ISFJ's] need to remember to not be overly critical of themselves, and to give themselves some of the warmth and love which they freely dispense to others."