I'm so big-picture that...
Wednesday May 23, 2018
…it helps me to look at myself as a player-character in a role-playing game.
I am obligated to write this post since I was reviewing my midlife crisis finances and realized I’ve spent almost $400 on RPG books in recent years. Holy cow.
That amount is probably nothing to the neckbeards who are really into RPGs, but it made me realize: Now is probably a good time to examine the hobby as a metaphor and figure out what my subconscious wants from all this. Why the interest in RPGs? It’s not like I have read every RPG book I own cover to cover, after all. It’s something else.
Here’s are some principles I’ve learned as I’ve used metaphor to analyze the interest:
Life is a game. Try to enjoy life the same way you would enjoy a game night. Games simply echo various facets of life. And games are meant to be fun! Imagine what you want to happen and push for it. Make a point of enjoying your encounters, and planning enjoyable things.
Pay attention to Character Design. It helps if you can describe yourself, your character, your gifts, your background, your interests. Usually there are hidden leverage points here. Also, look at the types of RPG characters you enjoy playing. If you love playing James Bond, perhaps you need to be more suave, sneaky, clever, smart. Maybe you need to take more risk and have more courage. If you love playing a Japanese cyberpunk girl from 2092, maybe you need to embrace femininity (be more self-forgiving, more naturally you) and find more enjoyment in life while leveraging technology that can help you do what you need to do.
Emphasize the use of your unique gifts. People who spread their skill points across too many categories end up really suffering during the game. If your skill points are mostly allocated to Intelligence, you may wish to add points to other categories, but that also means you should use your intelligence as much as possible. If you’re a great researcher, make sure that every big problem you solve maximizes the use of that gift.
Know who your friends are and let them help you. You can’t do everything by yourself. When a friend uses their skills to help you, make a point of using your skills to help them. If you understand personality type, you can also invite friends to learn how to use gifts they haven’t really discovered yet. This can be a win-win, as your friends learn how to help themselves while also helping you with gifts that they possess.
Describe people you encounter. Based on the descriptions you produced, how would you interact with them in an RPG? It can really help to describe the people around you in this way, and while I haven’t tried it, making up a character sheet for them could be a really useful exercise.
Be a GM (game master). Observe and narrate the game. Describe what’s happening and explain the choices that need to be made. This is a good way to get around any intuitions which may be clouding your ability to make objective judgments.
Be a GD (game designer). Look for “the game” within your daily plans and situations. Identify it. Explain the principles, like what characters need to do in order to succeed, or where the risky, difficult areas are. Explain what makes a character fail. Explain what makes a character win—is it a single goal, or are there differing goals based on the characters that are playing?
Don’t get too meta. While you may be a game master or game designer, you’ll also need to actually play as a character in the game of life. Get in the game and be an active participant. Make an impact.
Be clever. Play the game for what it is. Don’t play every scenario the same way—analyze each individual scenario, look for leverage points, and take advantage of them. Make observations and act on those observations in a logical way.
Understand how far your character has come. Make a note of ways in which you have leveled up in the past. A list of milestones can really help.
- Game theory
- Narrative fiction
- CYOA books
- Game books and board games
- Game development
Did it help you? I hope so—this has been an instructive exercise for me.
To wrap things up, here’s a brief exercise:
Describe yourself as an RPG character. Now walk that character through their day. What do they need do in order to make the most of the day? Is it super difficult stuff—a high-risk dice roll, like a -5 modifier on a d20 roll? How will you manage and contingency-plan around the risk?
Thoughts on Turning 40 as an INTJ
Wednesday May 9, 2018
So I’ll be turning 40 this weekend, and I wanted to share a few reflections on that.
1. Things aren’t…that…bad…? Pretty good actually!
I’ve aged a bit and have paid for it (see health concerns, below). That part does suck a little bit.
But overall: I am stronger now than I’ve ever been, which is a funny surprise. I couldn’t do a pull-up at all from ages 20 to 37. Now I can do lots of pull-ups; my record is 15. If you’re still in your twenties and in good shape, imagine yourself in even better shape at 40, but perhaps with a few body parts which which you’re gentler, like your knees or shoulders. You do lower-impact exercises on those joints, and again, overall, you’re better off than you were.
I also used to be obese; now I’m not. In my teens and 20s I took a “bulk up” mentality too far. When I changed activities over time, I didn’t really change my diet to fit. I was also hurt a bit by the INTJ tendency to be suspicious about new information, like diets to try, things like that. I’m more open-minded now and that seems to help. In my coaching practice I notice that INTJs sometimes believe a bit too strongly in “where I’ve been is where you need to go.” Favoritism toward one’s own past experiences. That usually needs to be balanced a bit with more openness.
I’m also wiser than I’ve ever been, in some ways. As one example, I don’t try to switch into “productivity mode” so much as slide into it. If I return from a meeting I give myself more down time and will actually lay down on the couch and watch YouTube or browse Wikipedia for a while until I feel rested enough that I can easily bring my mind around to more productivity. Forced, enjoyable rest at increased intervals seems to have been one missing key in the productivity systems of my younger years.
As a second example, I waste less of my time on things that frustrate me, because I analyze the things I do and learn more lessons from them. Is this an activity that will push me to stretch my type? Is it an activity that uses my gifts? And so on. When I was younger, I would have also said I did at least some of that. However, I give more of my attention to that meta-contextual process now than I did before. Overall, the wisdom thing sounds easier than it is and I still have a lot of room to grow here.
I definitely have more energy than I’ve ever had before. This is what I’d call “psychological energy,” as opposed to e.g. physical stamina, though I’m sure they’re related. Watch this video with Dario Nardi and observe his general energy levels; that’s more of the kind of INTJ energy I’m talking about. I’m more open-minded, less of a critic, more interested in things, I’m doing productive work at a sustainable pace, and the world is looking like a more interesting place to me now than it ever has. More on this below.
I have a lot of room to grow in all of these areas, but you can see my reasoning: Turning 40 is accompanied by more of a “yes, more of this please” feeling than a “no, I don’t want to grow older” feeling.
2. Health concerns occupy more of my attention
I have a couple of health conditions that weren’t even on my radar 10 years ago. At times this has been very stressful. However, I’ve learned to attack these stressors directly and track my progress in dealing with them. This has been very helpful. I have learned to use my extraverted tools to ask others for help and information when needed, too.
I’m sure this area will require more of my attention as I grow older. It’s kind of annoying in that way, sure. However I can also see that it will be more annoying to watch others basically end their lives early, for lack of attention to their health. This has already happened to several of my friends who have passed away.
3. Family and friend concerns are much more important to me
I have more concerns about family and friends (and clients, etc.) than I ever had in the past. For example, I want to make sure that my children receive education that is fair to their weaknesses and emphatic regarding their strengths. I want to make family members feel more comfortable being related to me, and help them feel more secure in their relationship with me. I want to bring out and help them show their best side without putting any uncomfortable pressure on them. I’m growing older along with my five siblings, I love them all, and even though we’re an incredibly diverse family by our psychology, I wouldn’t want to die with them feeling actively hurt by me.
Fortunately, thanks to my experience with personality type, I feel more capable of dealing with those concerns. I’m still quiet and make judicial use of communications media (lol) but I feel like I’m doing better than I ever have before.
Recently, when a family member who is decidedly unbalanced tried to get me to respond emotionally to some negative behavior they directed toward me, I was able to step back, look at the situation from multiple vantage points, discuss it with friends, ask for their input, and decide on an appropriate way to respond with a more nuanced style. As a younger person that just wasn’t my way of doing things—I was much more open with my criticism and I can see that this simply exacerbated problems in relationships that weren’t ever going to be BFF situations in the first place.
Overall: I’m having fun and solving problems
I’m not really that old—40 is not far advanced along the aging spectrum these days. I see sixty and eighty-year-olds who look amazingly youthful. And I think I’m getting a little bit of a glimpse of what it’s like for them. I can tell I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m learning to have more fun and enjoy life.
I bought my first set of Pokemon cards recently. I also bought some RPG sourcebooks and play more RPGs with my kids. I collect toy cars, love watching fun movies, and I listen to upbeat music while tracking satellites and the International Space Station. A few weeks ago I provided radio communications for an ultramarathon in a rural area. Tomorrow I’m going to help get a medical center on the air for a ham radio drill to assist with community needs during (upcoming) wildfires.
This is all fun stuff. Life is supposed to be fun.
Oh, and I wrote a book, too! Give it a look if you haven’t already; link’s in the sidebar.
Well, that’s it for me. If you’re older, or younger, what have you learned so far? Any big insights? Let me know!
Tuesday May 1, 2018
I never realized how much energy matters until just recently. It’s absolutely incredible! We are just orbs of pure energy, seen through one (simple) lens. But with that one lens you gain a technology. In principle you gain a gigantic amount of leverage. It’s incredible, like discovering an alien civilization—in fact that’s what happens in Contact, isn’t it? Massive energy transfer. You can see it in her eyes and it comes at her faster than she can describe.
How can we categorize and gauge the magnitude, the vector, the configuration, the duration? Is there a point at which you melt in the presence of a higher-energy being? Some exponential extension of the experience of hanging around with your ESFP cousin all day? The Indiana Jones face-melting energy-archetype?
A system of energy-archetypes: Is that what personality type is, or does it lack something when seen through that lens? Jung explored psychic energy, however we don’t really use his tools that way currently—we don’t typically discuss energy outside of the I/E dichotomy.
More later as I develop this little guy, this line of thought.
(I know you’re excited to let me know about your favorite author/book on energy, so shoot me an email and I promise to extravert myself toward it. :-) You guys have all the best resources…you energy harvester-preserver-conservators you)
(And what brought this moment about? Was it the music, was it the Diet Mountain Dew, or was it the long-awaited coming of the end of the day?)
The Productivity Triangle
Tuesday May 1, 2018
This should be helpful in avoiding productivity exhaustion.
INTJ Tips for Working with INFPs
Saturday April 28, 2018
Relationships with INFPs too often seem like an easy, no-effort-required experience for INTJs. This is because the most prominent INFP gifts float just under our INTJ radar, while INFPs appear to naturally seek out and soak up INTJ advice.
Unfortunately, an INTJ can quickly become overbearing and oblivious in this relationship, and no matter how well things seem to be going on the surface, a sudden negative reaction from an INFP will almost always come as an unpleasant shock to the INTJ ego. Here are some tips to make sure you’re relating for best effect with INFPs.
Establish a baseline of optimism and fun
INFPs quickly become uncomfortable in an environment of cold, analytical criticism. They are sensitive to the human need for simple comfort, optimistic thought, and fun experiences. INTJs can develop a skilled level of “systematic warmth” by harnessing their inner gifts for encouragement, spontaneous fun, humor, and aesthetic comfort. As INTJs integrate these gifts into a planned organizational process, they create fertile ground in which INFPs can sow important creative seeds and contribute their best selves without feeling too much pressure.
Recover at any time
Don’t treat relationship problems with INFPs as if they’re unsolvable. INFPs are very forgiving by nature and typically enjoy the making-up process. To an INFP, a relationship is naturally complex, with boundaries that are anything but black and white. You can demonstrate your humanity (a subject in which INFPs excel) by being persistent and uncovering your past failures by re-exposing yourself and giving things another shot.
Avoid appearing like you’re showing off or not at fault
While this may seem like a good rule for relationships in general, there are some important exceptions and some equally important applications in which a bit of conscious effort is rewarded. For INTJs, the INFP relationship is one of these.
INTJs have a sort of “accept me because I have demonstrated I deserve your admiration” approach to life, while INFPs see things through a different lens, one which could be described as “come as you are.” That means that faults and vulnerability are not just allowed, they are encouraged. While it may be tempting as an INTJ to assume that your Ph.D. or the fact that you can speak five languages would be things that really matter to an INFP, you may actually find that tripping on a curb and laughing at yourself is the single act that seals the deal.
In general, understand that your force-demonstrative behaviors are more likely to be interpreted by an INFP as showing off, and adjust your approach accordingly.
This also applies to situations in which blame may be a factor. The more quickly you accept some blame and explain it to the INFP while asking for their patience and forgiveness, the more quickly you will be able to recover to higher ground where you can work together more successfully. Placing blame is a traditional weak spot for INTJs who are laser-focused on achievement and development. But accepting the permeating nature of fault is really a capstone on a nuanced understanding of human development.
Be careful with help-you talk and help-you check-ins
When an INFP talks in their typical descriptive mode, it may seem like an opening to help them solve their problems. For example:
INFP: “I need to figure out how to set goals. I’m always failing at it.”
INTJ: “You should totally read this book by Dr. So-and-so. It has everything you need to set achievable goals. The key is to be really reasonable with yourself.”
INFP: “Ooh, sounds like I should read that.”
INFP, a month later at a dinner party: “I love setting goals, but I never achieve them, seriously!”
INTJ (feeling upset): “Seriously, read that book.”
INFP, two months later at the dinner table: “I missed my goal again. Why do I always do this? Argh.”
INTJ (fuming): “Look, we talked about this. Your goals aren’t reasonable. I recommended a book. You haven’t read it. I can’t discuss this right now, it’s like you secretly hate all of my advice.”
In no case did the INFP ask for help; they simply put their thinking out there. It would have been much wiser for the INTJ to ask, “can I help you achieve your goals somehow? What would be helpful to you?”
Going beyond that, the INTJ would be smart to treat follow-ups as opportunities for 1) encouragement and then 2) very gentle check-ins like, “I know I recommended a book, but is there anything else that you think would work better?”
Let INFPs be responsible
INFPs are introverts just like you. Introverts don’t want someone constantly advising them on what to do. They want a listening ear to help them process and maybe analyze what they’re thinking, they want to use to their own creative process of thinking / feeling / intuiting / sensing, and they want that to happen on their own time.
In other words, INFPs expect you to be all over their problems listing solutions left and right just as much as you want them to be all over yours.
Let INFPs be their best introvert selves, and give them time to work on their problems as if you fully trust that they’ll figure things out in the end.
Live, and let them live too
INTJs tend to step too quickly into an “older sibling” role in this relationship. Remember, a relationship requires some sense of equilibrium in order to be successful. Recognize what you, as an INTJ, are gaining from the relationship—things like:
- Full, no-strings-attached permission to be yourself
- A listening ear
- A patient advisor when you have e.g. relationship troubles at work
In return, INFPs want to be able to expect the same. If what they receive is something like this:
- Encouragement to change to be more like you, the INTJ
- A didactic fix-it approach to their problems
- An impatient response to ongoing problems
…then you might as well throw in the towel. This is not the INTJ help that anybody needs, even if it’s easy to slip into this mode with a personality type as flexible and permissive as the INFP.
Learn the skill of asking questions
INTJs can help this relationship move along by balancing their directive, judging-centered commentary with analysis and questioning. The analyzer-questioner INTJ is generally a healthy INTJ, so take this as a challenge to improve your efficacy in the world at large.
If you’re struggling in a relationship with an INFP, try some of the approaches and skills above. It’s a different world in some ways, but learning to relate to INFPs is one more beneficial step on the road to balance and emotional maturity.
My First INTJ Workout Program, Now Available
Tuesday April 17, 2018
Departing a bit from the typical long-form self-improvement book, Gifts of the Intuitive Theorist: 300 INTJ Strengths to Try is a book of creative exercises. It’s packed with opportunities to dive in and explore various INTJ strengths—some of which you probably haven’t tried before. Learn a new fact or two, or develop a completely new set of skills. You decide!
You’ll probably like this book, or so my early INTJ reviewers say. Purchasers receive both a DRM-free PDF and EPUB copy of the book. There’s a PDF with sample exercises available, and here is the purchase link.
While I’m getting the book launched you can use the promo code “launchpromo” at checkout and pay $6.99 instead of $7.99. This won’t be permanent, so grab it while you can.
If you read it, I’d love to hear what you think!
Because the book is one large set of exercises, I started out by identifying the kind of language prompts I wanted to use, then I put together a Perl script to generate a framework of the book for me (notice I didn’t say “write the book for me”). I fed different ideas into the script, which eventually generated 300 really generic sentences, which I then molded into exercises. Then I deleted some and added some more. I have revised each exercise an average of 4-5 times. If you read the sample PDF you can see an example where I work through an exercise until my brain is really well stimulated and I’ve gained some new insights. It’s a workout book, trust me.
The book cover is decorated in architecture which incorporates triangles: The Epcot Center Spaceship Earth geosphere. In reviewing my own doodle and sketch imagery, the triangle appears over and over. It imparts a sense of directional force and strength of structure in one object. As such, the triangle has a lot to do with INTJ psychology. INTJs love to create and develop (usually mental) structures with which to exert force! Building on this, I decided to find a way to combine triangles and architecture (architecture in the general sense is an INTJ strength) in the cover.
The image above is a 3D render of the book and some accompanying objects, including a pencil drawing I made some time ago. 3D modeling is absolutely my jam when I need to put a quick product shot together. Alternate angle one and alternate angle two. I used a software package called Art of Illusion which I’ve been using since around 2003. It’s limited in some ways compared to the commercial software I’ve used, but a lot of fun for simple projects. Using FOSS like Art of Illusion for production artwork in 2018 feels a bit like drawing the Mona Lisa with a ballpoint pen, which I’d probably enjoy doing anyway.
P.S.: If you’d like to be included on my list of early reviewers for future titles, my email’s in the sidebar.
Some Notes and Tips on Productivity Exhaustion
Monday April 16, 2018
INTJs are productive people. We love to find more efficient ways to get things done. The thought of being effective and reasonably powerful makes us feel warm and happy inside.
On the other hand, if we don’t feel like we’re productive, we can really start to beat ourselves up. A lack of productivity is something we may instantly and rigidly identify as the enemy. This becomes a problem when we’ve simply taken on more things than we can reasonably accomplish, for example. It is difficult to accept that we should let some things drop, or delay our productivity, so we attempt to become hyper-productive.
A common outcome of a hyper-productive lifestyle is what I call “productivity exhaustion.” The symptoms are very similar to depression symptoms: Fatigue, negative thoughts about self and others, lack of interest in life, and so on. I first measured and discovered this effect in my own life as I completed a variety of professional certifications and examinations, all at the same time. After documenting my experience, I set about finding ways to overcome this kind of outcome in the future.
If you are experiencing productivity exhaustion, here are some tips I have discovered that may help:
Keep a log of your experiences
In your log, note things that make you feel sad or depressed, as well as things that make you feel interested or excited. This log will help you understand the dynamics of your own productivity system. Over time, obvious answers and coping methods will emerge as you review your own measurements and past experiences.
For example: “2018-04-16: I feel no interest in anything. I guess a little interest in upgrading the OS on my computer. I feel depressed about everything.”
Structure your slack
Convert some of your structure-defining productivity energy into energy that provides boundaries in which you can slack off. Calendar in your rest breaks, your video game playing, and so on. Keep a “slack budget” of at least an hour or two a day, and use up the budget whenever you’d like.
Study your slack
Watch and monitor the activities that help you relax and enjoy life. Can they be deepened? Or are they better kept shallow? Experiment and see what you like. Watch for new hobbies and interests that may emerge, because these can literally save your life.
Analyze the implications for your productivity
How can you work to reconcile these two halves—where can productivity and relaxation or fun be blended together? Attempt to intersperse relaxation and productivity more often. Since I’m interested in psychology, writing in this blog helps me blend the two.
Collect activities that help you recover from productivity exhaustion
INTJs are good at collecting information, advice, and tips. You may find it helpful to turn your attention to building a collection of recovery methods, so that when you are feeling exhausted you can choose from a wide spectrum of possible activities, to find those that “feel” good. Remember, since INTJs are thinkers, this feeling process can be used in times of stress to complete us in our recovery from stress.
Don’t cut back on your interests
It may seem tempting to get more “important” things done by cutting back on your interests. But please note that people who have “too many interests” are more likely to be successful. I believe this success is related to maintaining a deep feeling of interest in and excitement for life’s various experiences. In my experience, this interest and excitement can immediately cut down one’s chances of feeling burnt out or exhausted.
It is tempting to say “I just need to crack down on my hobbies so I can focus on my chemistry degree,” but this is a very rigid mindset that will almost always increase your chances of becoming exhausted. Better to keep the hobbies and find a way to attack the actual problem (for example: I am not as skilled at chemistry as I need to be; perhaps I need to change my major).
Elon Musk is cool, but it would really suck—comparatively speaking—to be the Elon Musk who thought that he should just get serious and focus only on Tesla.
Do cut back on your intensity
There is a concept in Chinese philosophy known as “yin deficiency.” In short, our masculine, productive, forward-surging energy (yang) overcomes our feminine, organic, unstructured side (yin). Imagine yourself as a whole made of two parts. One part of you is suffering, because it cannot feel comfortable, accepted, or capable of self-expression. It is a very individualistic side, the side of you that just wants to do whatever you feel like doing right now. As you study your productivity system, try to think of ways of giving that side of you a stronger voice in your life.
In extreme cases, look even closer at your circumstances
While it may be frustrating to feel so exhausted, you may need to explore an even more frustrating possibility: Your circumstances just suck. In such cases you are wise to use what little productivity you have to plan a sort of escape from your current circumstances.
Using the “change of major” example above, I think this is a possibility that would cause most INTJs to feel extremely reticent. “What do you mean, I’m not skilled enough???” However, when your mental and physical health are on the line, you are wise to consider all possibilities of creating an immediate change in circumstances. The feeling on the other side of that change is often completely different, less anxious, less depressing, and more fun. This is an environment in which you can exert your natural skills to bring about positive change on a daily basis. I would personally rather be a successful and happy IT guy who is working to better understand chemistry, than a depressed and anxious full-time chemistry student who is failing their chemistry classes.
Some of the happiest people in the world are happy precisely because they know how to say, “I just can’t live like this anymore—something has got to change.” It’s much better to change one’s major or some other circumstance than to give into feelings that life isn’t worth living, or that life has no meaning at all.
If you’re feeling productivity exhaustion, I hope the tips above help you. The process of overcoming it may not happen overnight, but it’s worth your time and energy.
My Current XFCE Shortcut Menu
Monday April 9, 2018
I added these buttons to an XFCE panel menu. This made a lot of things easier, and allowed me to create some new processes.
- Random playlist refresh for putting a fresh list of random songs together.
- “Daily Drivel” is my Markdown-based journaling template, which is created automatically every morning at 3 a.m.
- Ham radio frequencies I use often—there are lots of these, on various bands, mostly VHF and UHF. (Quick, what’s the national simplex frequency on the 70cm band?)
- “View/Edit Random Framework” opens up one of the hundreds of frameworks I’ve created, so I have an opportunity to review, make edits, and sometimes scrap the whole thing and go back to square one.
- “View/Edit Random Writing File” opens up one of the thousands of journal entries or other text files, for example a list of interests, a list of favorite video games, a list of things I want to do next in hobby X, etc.
- Play Random New Fresh Tune picks one song from my latest-songs playlist and plays it.
- Open Random Book does just what it says, with e-books. I read for a few minutes and I’m good.
- Refresh Podcast Playlist is a kludge
- Servers & Systems Docs is a Frameworks folder containing lots of sysadmin stuff, like how to do X, Y, or Z on a server. Some of these are basically “I spent 15 minutes on Google looking for the best answer to this problem and I don’t want to ever repeat that again, so here it is.”
- Thunar is an excellent file manager, and you can put things like sftp:// addresses right into the location bar.
- KolourPaint is an MS Paint clone that is surprisingly useful for just getting visual ideas out in a simple way.
- QMMP is like an upgraded but faithful clone of WinAMP.
- At the very bottom you’ll see my two of my detective archetype activators.
Some Analysis of Charlie Munger Quotes
Monday April 9, 2018
A client shared with me his opinion that Charlie Munger is an INTJ. This sounded interesting, so I dug in and did a bit of Charlie Munger research. Here are some attributes and quotes of Charlie’s that seem both representative of the INTJ personality type and representative of Charlie’s thinking in general.
By the way, you can check out Charlie Munger books and listen to Munger for free at the Internet Archive, in addition to Youtube and other sources.
1. Argument from Personal Temperament (Be Like Me)
This one really gives away Charlie’s temperament. Here are the four temperaments, for reference:
- Guardian / Stabilizer (SJ)
- Idealist / Catalyst (NF)
- Artisan / Improviser (SP)
- Rational / Theorist (NT)
“In the late 1980s, [Munger] recalled in a magazine interview, a guest at a dinner party asked him, ‘Tell me, what one quality accounts for your enormous success?’
Mr. Munger’s reply: ‘I’m rational. That’s the answer. I’m rational.’”
—Charlie Munger: Lessons from an Investing Giant
Rational living is great for an INTJ! But really—rational! If we were all rational, every one of us, we’d be in sore shape. Even people who are Rational by temperament are understood to fluctuate between rational and irrational many times during the period of a single activity. Munger himself discusses experiences in which he did not behave rationally. He explains and kind of justifies these experiences by wrapping them up in a rationally understood meta-context.
2. Criticism of Ti, or Introverted Thinking
Te-preferring types like INTJs prefer to sort through others’ ideas, to pick “the best” as determined by evidence or measurements as a way of gaining leverage.
Ti-preferring types, on the other hand use a calculating creativity to build a mental model from the bottom up, preferring to create, rather than reference, ideas.
“People calculate too much and think too little.”
—Charles T. Munger
Here Munger uses the fundamental Te vs. Ti argument (Which in INTJs can be summarized as the “don’t reinvent the wheel” sentiment):
“I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself. Nobody’s that smart.”
—Charles T. Munger, Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor
(The real risk here is that you find ways to avoid doing your own analysis, and miss key points of leverage which others have not yet actually discovered)
3. Referential thought (Te) preference
“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading.”
—Charles T. Munger
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none, zero. You’d be amazed how much Warren reads, and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
—Charles T. Munger
Here is more justification for digging deep to find all the facts and information, as preferred by Te:
“The great algorithm to remember in dealing with this tendency is simple: an idea or a fact is not worth more merely because it’s easily available to you.”
—Charles T. Munger
“We both [Warren and I] insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think. So Warren and I do more reading and thinking and less doing than most people in business.”
—Charles T. Munger
4. Valuing (Fi) preference
Munger continually demonstrates a preference for sorting through individual-moral questions.
“Remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets—and can be lost in a heartbeat.”
—Charles T. Munger
Taking the reverse, Munger is a steady critic of group thinking and inherent organizational biases / flaws (Fe, or extraverted feeling, issues)
5. Low risk tolerance (anti-boundary-expansion / pro boundary-retention)
The typical INTJ has a very low tolerance for risk (though turbulent INTJs much less so). INTJs prefer to approach risk through careful study and analysis, looking for external conditions that line up to fit the “success principles” they’ve learned. The topic of taking risk, to an INTJ, is typically a discussion about contingency planning. (Which is funny if you think about it)
“It’s not possible for investors to consistently outperform the market. Therefore you’re best served investing in a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds [or exchange-traded funds].”
—Charles T. Munger
In Socionics Model A (another personality type model), INTJs are said to have an overall negative bias toward the expansion of boundaries, which is the exploration of the interaction of what might be called “fields of energy” (literally, if you look at the subatomic level). We INTJs prefer to protect boundaries by contingency, so that we can make careful boundary-internal investigations via intuitive methods. Munger fits right in here.
“We recognized early on that very smart people do very dumb things, and we wanted to know why and who, so we could avoid them.”
—Charles T. Munger
6. Occasional moments where Ti creeps in
Munger does give credit to post-mortems. A good post-mortem analysis is where Ti begins.
“Forgetting your mistakes is a terrible error if you’re trying to improve your cognition. Reality doesn’t remind you. Why not celebrate stupidities in both categories?”
—Charles T. Munger
Conclusion, and How to get the Best out of Munger as an INTJ
From what I’ve read so far, I’m comfortable with the idea that Munger is an INTJ. There are additional areas where Munger shows typical INTJ tendencies, like direct avoidance of novel concepts and principles (his thinking on Bitcoin may be right on in some ways, but for the purposes of analysis, it is effectively black & white), which indicate a negative overall bias in his extraverted intuitive process (Ne).
I have enjoyed reading and listening to Munger. If you want to get the best out of Munger’s shared experience, I recommend the following principles:
- Look beyond the historical stories and trivia that Munger shares. While interesting and engaging, they mask his behavior and he says so himself. These stories mostly get at the “why” and not the “how”.
- Explore and detect the actual work and trades Munger performed.
- Attempt to identify Munger’s original creative works. (systems, etc.)
Munger does not draw on history and psychology as much as you might think, to hear him talk. Instead, he mostly draws on and applies others’ ideas. Which still makes him a wise, effective person!
Where I'm at with Depression & How I Cure it Every Time
Saturday April 7, 2018
This is not medical advice. Always consult with medical experts before changing your approach to a condition like depression.
These notes are based on my personality type code, which is INTJ. The contents are meant for other INTJs, and not for a general audience.
I remember when I used to suffer from severe depression. I had no personal plan of attack. I had no idea that I should be doing my own detecting. My formal methods of treating depression were A) therapy and B) visits to a psychiatrist, who prescribed various medications. Eventually when my circumstances changed and my depression went away, the psychiatrist told me I was cured of depression. I was very happy about this.
Of course, it came back later.
If you’ve ever consulted with medical professionals yourself, you probably know it can be a frustrating process. I remember the therapists who gave me advice that, in hindsight, came straight from their own personality type. It was often an awkward fit. One of them, who I’d guess was an ESFP, kept making remarks about my posture and physical appearance, and told me I should join a sports team. I had to speak in short sentences, or he would start to nod off.
I also remember the psychiatrist who was just as frustrated as I was, as we tried various medications to treat the depression, while also trying to hold the various side effects at bay. One day he told me “we [psychiatrists] think we know everything, but we’re really still in the stone age.”
Don’t get me wrong: I had some incredibly helpful experiences with therapists, and a psychiatrist who can admit we are still in the stone age is someone worth listening to.
But if you suffer from depression, and have no personal, non-professional plan of attack and you are not doing any detecting, and you are an INTJ, you should really start those things now. Keep an open mind and dive in and develop your model of your depression as if you can cure it. Our clocks are ticking, and life is really too sweet to be wasted on needless depression.
A Timely Cure
Back when I was severely depressed, a normal period of deep depression would last about 1-3 days, with very low moods lasting for weeks and sometimes months without a break.
Currently, when I feel depression (I hope I never get rid of it entirely; more on that below) it takes me an average of 1-2 hours to cure the symptoms.
While suffering from depression, I have measured my rate of negative thoughts at anywhere from 10-30 per minute. If you’ve been here before, it sucks. Here are some examples of the liabilities you face while in this mode:
- You think the worst of yourself
- You think the worst of others
- You think the worst of the world
If you have to make any decisions while influenced by this kind of thinking, you are in trouble, period.
After my symptoms have cleared, things are different. Every single negative possibility is severely moderated without any effort. It’s like my brain says, “go ahead, think a negative thought. I dare you.” Things are in clearer perspective and I have the energy and ability to think and act creatively.
Now that I’ve measured the difference between these two states, I can’t not fight back whenever I feel depressed.
Eliminating depression is wasted effort
From what I can tell, it would be a really stupid thing to “defeat” depression entirely. Depression is a helpful warning system. It is one potentially useful tool that can help us escape to better circumstances, get needed rest, or otherwise change our circumstances.
Looking outside the disease model can be helpful
It is clear to me now that depression is less like a disease in my life and more like a symptom of exhaustion. For me, depression often follows a bout of too much productivity or otherwise manifests as a sort of “you’re worn out” statement by my body. So it will probably be helpful to look at the following cure-tools through the lens of exhaustion treatments.
“I fell asleep as a conspiracy theorist, and woke up as a huge fan of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam”
The quote above is from one of my journal entries as I measured my attempts at treating depression. I fell asleep with the worst possible ideas about the people and things around me. I woke up later singing Head to Toe. I laughed, I felt great, and the change was mind-blowing. I shook my head and knew I had to share this with others.
My first finding was that sleep is a huge help. If I can take a nap as soon as I feel depressed—even if I just woke up—it will help most of the time.
I aim for either a quick, 15 minute nap, or a complete 90-minute sleep cycle. My measurements show that sleep cycles are important and that waking up in the middle of one can instantly cause depression. I set my alarm clock according to those 90-minute cycles and try to aim for about 5-6 cycles of sleep every night.
Sometimes I cannot sleep at all—I’m stuck. In these cases I often find that it’s best to give up on sleep for now and move on to the next step.
Inflammation seems to be linked to depression
I have become aware of a very faint, dull pain in my head that accompanies depression. I was not able to grasp this before, and I believe that lack of attention to such a problem may be due to this INTJ’s typically weak attention to his senses (thus the lack of an “S” in my personality type, to use a simple explanation). The depressive thoughts definitely speak much louder than the physical pain.
In any case, I found that taking some ibuprofen (I rarely exceed 600mg) makes a big difference. By itself this can also completely erase my depression.
Note: In studying Ibuprofen I was told by others that it can cause liver damage, but this seems to be a less common effect and possibly even an extreme case, based on my interpretation of the papers I read on the topic. As I said above, consult with experts and don’t just blindly follow my method here.
Using a small amount of caffeine as a secondary mood-lift can help a lot
With an average-low mood, I find that a small amount of caffeine can also help me recover very quickly (typically 30mg but very rarely exceeding 100mg). It cannot replace my efforts to attack the pain of inflammation, but it really helps. Used alone, caffeine seems to result in a very annoying state of being more jittery than average but also that burnt out feeling. Which is not pleasant.
30mg of caffeine is easily obtained in the form of zero-calorie diet soda. However, I don’t always want to drink really acidic stuff like that, so I purchased 100mg Jet Alert tabs and cut them up when needed.
With both caffeine and ibuprofen, one can grow accustomed to the effect. I’ve never had this problem. In theory, you could also grow addicted to the stuff in that you keep taking more and more. In my experience, this phenomenon does not manifest itself either. However, I have been told by professionals that I do not have an addictive personality. Compulsions? Sure, under anxiety I might stress-eat or exercise too hard, but an addict-type I’m not. Just FYI in case it’s helpful to compare against your own experience.
Music is surprisingly helpful in fighting depression symptoms
As a short-form mood booster, music can easily affect my mood for the better, as can movies and TV. I’d be an idiot to leave music & video out of my toolkit, and I often polish off an attempted cure with some upbeat music or a funny Youtube video.
Unfortunately though, it has been my experience that music or video by itself is not typically effective as a standalone depression treatment.
Self-talk helps, too
I find that expressing my thoughts and giving my mood a voice are helpful techniques as well. I have found that saying things like “I’m a grump right now, I’m just going to be a grump all day, I can’t change that, I’m just stuck,” has been helpful. Journal entries also help.
The Wannas matter
Every day has to have some amount of things I really wanna do or I’m screwed. A day that is full of productivity without many expressions of things I feel like doing is practically a recipe for depression. So I try not to leave for work without listing some topics I want to learn about, or some new software I want to try, or whatever.
I believe that “stuck on the rails” productivity is a very common exhaustion ingredient for INTJs. I have discussed this with other INTJs in coaching sessions. It is important to be able to take breaks, to disengage from a draining project, and to attend to one’s feelings when it’s all just too much, or when it’s not really interesting or motivating anymore.
Circumstances matter a LOT
If you downloaded the log format I linked to above, you can see how I monitor potential circumstance changes.
Many of us, perhaps especially us introverts, believe that we shouldn’t blame our circumstances. I completely disagree. Blame them all you want, if it helps you change them. This has helped me: Noticing where my circumstances suck, pointing that out to myself, and pointing out where other people may even be to blame for how I’m feeling. If you think you might blame yourself too much, try reversing that attitude. Especially if you think it could motivate you to make needed changes to your circumstances.
Going back to the big picture
As I mentioned at the beginning, the key motivator behind all of this is my detecting and modeling meta-system. My gut tells me that if you, the INTJ reader, do not engage your own thinking and measuring gifts, you might not appreciate or even get good results from the techniques listed here.
And finally: This information may change over time as I modify my approach and take new measurements.