While I have an acronym that covers my personality and some descriptive terms: the thinker, the architect, the engineer, and the logician, it is important to recognize the power of labels. Labels, according to labeling theory, can become a self-fulfilling prophesy or a stereotype (Labeling Theory, n.d.). While it is crucial to gain an understanding of who I am, and that is my goal here, it is important not to frame my life prophetically according to an acronym, just as it is important not to live my life according to a fortune or astrological prediction. It is important to be informed, but my thinking and my innovation has a possibility to drift toward the prophesy and expectations of the labels.
Who (or What) I Am
My confirmed Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® type is INTP, which means that I am introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving (Myers & Briggs Foundation, n.d.). Taking the HumanMetrics Jung Typology Test confirmed me as an INTP, as well (HumanMetrics, n.d.). PersonalityMax refers to INTP as “The Engineer” (PersonalityMax, n.d.), Truity refers to INTP as “The Architect” (Truity, n.d.), 16Personalities calls INTP a “Logician” (Logician Personality, n.d.), and Verywell Mind calls the INTP “The Thinker (Cherry, 2019). As a business school student, this means that I am an analytical and innovative problem solver with a propensity to be creative and adapt in the business world, which is an asset. As a business school student, I need to be careful as an INTP not to get distracted, to stay motivated and keep moving forward. INTPs appear to struggle to find balance, stay challenged, and keep organized so that I follow through and accomplish my goals.
I also took the 16Personalities test (Free Personality Test: NERIS Type Explorer, n.d.), which is also based off of Carl Gustav Jung’s theory of psychological types but is a diversion from the Myers-Briggs test. 16Personalities says that “the acronyms used by these theories may be identical or very similar, however, their meanings do not always overlap” (Core Theory: Our Framework, n.d.). Interestingly, I scored as an INTP-T on the 16Personalities test. The difference in their labeling is that the category that is either judging or perceiving in the 16Personalities test is judging or prospecting, which they discuss as openness to new things and adaptability, as well as distractibility or lack of follow-through (Kyle, 2019). 16Personalities also added a -T to the end of my acronym, indicating that I am turbulent rather than assertive. Turbulence means that I am stress-motivated and success-driven and eager in stressful situations (Identity: Assertive vs. Turbulent, n.d.).
Opposites of INTP
There are a lot of discussions on the Internet about subtypes of the MBTI types, as well as the eight underlying introverted and extroverted cognitive functions.
INTP & ISFP Are Reversed of Each Other
ISFP (introversion, sensing, feeling, and perception) people have their cognitive functions in exactly the reverse order from INTP. This means that the submissive functions in the ISFP are the dominant functions in INTP (Anonymous, 2015).
INTP & ESFJ Have Reversed Cognitive Stacks
INTP and ESFJ have reversed cognitive stacks (primary processes and shadow processes are each reversed, so they likewise have common ground for communication although the submissive cognitive stack of INTP is reverse of the cognitive stack of ESFJ (Dane, 2018).
The Polar Opposite of INTP: “Bill” the ISFP (the Composer)
According to Truity, ISFP is “The Composer,” and is an easy-going, tolerant, non-judgmental, and loyal, and usually have physical or artistic hobbies (crafts, independent athletics, music, etc) (ISFP: The Composer, n.d.). Let us call this ISFP person by the name Bill. Bill avoids planning and may seem aloof (ISFP: The Composer, n.d.). Bill has a common failure to follow through with the INTP, as both get distracted before finishing something. Bill yearns for freedom and is a risk-taker, but also might spend hours playing an instrument or honing a skill (Butt, n.d.). ISFPs, like INTPs, feel the hero within them, so Bill is a questor, seeking out valiant acts of selflessness (Butt, n.d.).
Failure 1: Hero, Being the Genius, and Fatigue
When I was managing a product for a managed service provider, I grew very frustrated with everyone on my team to the point that I wished I could replace everyone. I thought that everyone was incompetent, nobody was listening to what I was saying, and everybody was repeating the same mistakes. Since everyone else was a failure (my perspective at the time), I tried to shoulder all the tasks: all of the migrations, all of the support, and everything to do with product innovations and improvements. I felt like I was forced to, since I was given an incompetent and uncaring team. I worked 18 hours a day very often and rarely had a weekend or a day off. My eye began to twitch with exhaustion, and I became so outwardly irritated with everyone that I was unapproachable. All of this is classic INTP behavior.
The owner of the company talked with me at one point and I exploded about my situation and my team. He explained to me that although I have an amazing work ethic and incredible ways of thinking (he compared me to Einstein), it is unrealistic to expect anyone else to be on my level. He told me that I need to understand that most of our employees are worker bees. They work typical hours, put in average effort, and generally perform a single simple task. He explained that it is unfair of me to hold them to my standard, as they are not going to read every document, research everything, architect everything heavily, or work through the night. Although I probably aged ten years that year, I am grateful for that conversation, because I was ready to take my frustrations out on my team. The owner still reminds me of the year that I almost went nuclear on everyone. It is an example of struggles of an INTP in leadership.
Failure 2: Needing to Fully Research a Problem and Explore the Possibilities
The owner a company asked me to engineer a solution and come up with a time estimate and quote for a partner’s solution one day. He gave me the details at eight in the morning and I started digging right in, exploring the problem and what potential technologies and angles I could take. Just two hours later, he asked for the quote. I told him that I needed more time and that I was still figuring out how it would be done. I was then told that a quote should never take more than an hour and that I needed to get the quote to our partner by noon so that he could present it to his clients.
I told that owner that this was impossible. Then, I called the partner and told him that I did not have time to come up with a proper solution. Choosing what seemed like the least risky solution at the time, I built our quote around that solution and gave him a rushed ballpark estimate. There was no engineering or proper research or architecture. There were no best practices. I rushed him a number to give his client and I was extremely vocal about being put in this situation. Again, my personality type makes me want to quote the right solution, not float a random number across.
Strategies for Improvement
Pairing Up with An Extroverted Thinker (ESTJ or ENTJ)
While one article mentioned that having an assistant to keep me motivated and organized towards a goal would be of value, another article mentions pairing up with an extroverted thinker that will work with me and not be upset by my style of work or lack of feedback (BSM Consulting, 2015). Working with someone willing to be the public-facing representative would help with workplace communication. Pairing up with an ESTJ or ENTJ would balance out my introverted thinking.
Awareness of Others Being Different
It is important to understand that not everyone thinks like me and values the same things as I do, so although I might get frustrated with people, they have a reason for being the way they are. It is important to understand that other people have different strengths that may complement my weaknesses, and that we all make the team stronger, and we all have something to offer. Respecting others on my team through that awareness will make for a stronger team and will help me work with my teammates with less friction. Writing a sticky note and putting it on my monitor reminding me that “everyone is important” is a good mantra reminder.
Reflect on Written Goals
Every day, a new challenge begs for my attention, whether learning a new cloud technology or developing a security product. Every day, I want to delve into some new challenge and chase some idea. This results in a lot of unfinished projects and goals that are never achieved. Although I have great ideas, sometimes I fail to bring any to fruition because there is always another great idea. Keeping focused with written goals, deadlines, and timeframes is important for me to get anything done. Announcing my intent to the world so that other people become my accountability partners, helping me stay focused and grind through to accomplish my goal is important so that I will get anything done.
Understanding Experiences Are Not Shared
When communicating with others, I need to understand that their experiences in life have not been the same as mine. In the workplace, I need to not take for granted that people may not understand what I am saying because they do not have the same frames of reference as me. Other people have not dealt with the same situations and learned from the same mistakes. My solutions seem extremely logical to me, but other people are driven by other experiences and other needs. Another sticky note on my monitor as a mantra reminder would be helpful here, saying: “Don’t take for granted that other people understand why this is important to you.”
Dolly Parton is often quoted as saying “Find out who you are and do it on purpose” and Socrates is known for saying “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Sometimes, it is hard to remember that it is important to take this introspective journey as well as taking the time to understand other people around me and their different personality types. This has caused problems as I am in a high-stress position in a stressful industry and sometimes do not understand why people are not on the same page as me. There are strategies for INTPs like myself to deal with social environments and communication expectations, which I plan to continue to learn and employ to continue to improve myself, my relationships, and my career. Developing this advanced awareness and emotional intelligence could be the most important thing that I do. Arthur Ocain, INTP.