Marc's INTJ Blog

Developing a Skill or Tool vs. Confinually Refining its Use

Tuesday April 13, 2021

There’s this weird trap I see sometimes. Sometimes in myself, sometimes others tell me about it:

Let’s say a problem occurs in your life. Something troubling comes up. You think,

“Well, I have really developed this (process/skill/gift) well. So THAT can’t be why I’m suffering from (problem that looks suspiciously like a lack of that thing).”

Take intuition, for example. If you’ve worked hard to develop your intuition (which is definitely something laudable and doable), you can get to the point where you’re thinking, “hey, I got this. Pretty much any problem that seems to require the intuition, I can understand it and overcome it.”

And—that might even be true! At that time.

But then later, a big problem comes up, and you can’t see a way out! (This is an example of an intuition problem)

Or a little problem comes up, and you KNOW it’s little, but then it blows up, or gets really big. (This is also an example of an intuition problem)

You may think, “where was that gosh-darn intuition?!”

But instead, you might, or I might, disastrously conclude that it’s NOT an intuition problem. It couldn’t be! I’m good at those already.

And later on, it happens again. The thing is, it IS an intuition problem!

It sucks, but I’m left with these conclusions about this phenomenon


  • Skills fade over time.
    • OK, I think most people know this, right?
  • Knowledge fades over time.
    • Some people are 100% on board with this. Others are not—for example, people who think that if you really know a thing inside and out, you’ll never forget it, because of the satisfying logical arrangement of the parts, or something.
  • Relevance of your learned, appropriate level of skill or knowledge to a given problem changes over time.
    • Not many people think about this one.
  • Your ability to consciously identify appropriate skills or knowledge sets to apply to a given problem is more fluid than you might think, and changes over time as your skill- or knowledge-body and its dynamics change.
    • Hardly ANYONE knows about this.

It sucks to think about, in a lot of ways. It also creates these traps of the ego, where the conscious self is, by no fault of one’s own, really uninformed about how well it can solve problems. AND it’s not your fault, AND maybe there’s not even a solution for it that anyone can come up with. In other words, not only is the solution not on your radar, maybe it’s on nobody’s!

But a good system of skill- and knowledge-management-and-selection can really help.

Get one today!

Just kidding, I don’t know of any. But I’m working on it, maybe.

It should, for one thing, treat that blob of knowledge in your head as a really volatile and changing thing.

Filed in: /96/ | /85/ | /57/

Dr. Terry Wahls and INTJ Life Magic

Tuesday March 23, 2021

Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine who managed to stall/cure her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, also lights up my INTJ buttons:

She is doing the “ordinary life magician” performance there. Here’s how that performance is usually carried out:

  • The INTJ narrates a very difficult life problem that overtook them
  • They walk through their investigation, usually a theory-based deep-dive
  • They outline their discoveries and lay out the theory
  • They offer striking sensory displays along with their presentation, like photos or stories of unhealthy people or things
  • In the end they converge upon one general answer to the problem (as opposed to formulating new questions, for example)
  • In broad strokes, they convey that a huge, impressive, positive change is possible—if I can do it, so can you! (The ESFP cheerleading values hiding behind the scientific sharing)

I admit that “uh, ok…sure” is one of my favorite responses to this performance that we INTJs tend to do…sometimes INTJs are just too great of an example for their own good, and the performance itself starts to challenge the audience’s sense of belief and self-regard.

If we really want people to believe in themselves, sometimes we have to remember to give them space to develop a sense of self-regard based on their subjective properties, as opposed to acting as a human sign post and encouraging them in a specific direction. And when it comes down to it, a lot of people really need to feel like it’s OK to be broken, sick, and outcomes-unknown.

Still, the performance is really well done and it’s definitely hope-inspiring if you’ve ever struggled with chronic illness.

In some aspects of her appearance, movement, tone, and speaking style, I would also offer that Dr. Wahls resembles Dr. Jordan Peterson.

Filed in: /16/ | /57/

By the way: Vlad Tenev, Roaring Kitty (Same Person?)

Tuesday March 23, 2021

Some have theorized that Vlad Tenev (Robinhood CEO) and /r/WallStreetBets options trader Roaring Kitty (Keith Gill) are the same person.

They do look a lot alike, after all.

I’ll just say this—I think they’re both INTJs.

I’m not so sure about the same person bit. :-)

P.S. When RK says “I am not a cat” to a member of Congress in that video, that is shadow ESFP behavior right there. See also: Zuckerberg’s pajama prank on Sequoia Capital investors, etc.

It’s funny, sure. But please be really careful with that stuff. For some obvious reasons, but also for lot of really good, less-obvious reasons.

Filed in: /29/ | /57/

"You gotta blow peoples' minds" -- Justin Willman

Tuesday March 23, 2021

I’ve added magician Justin Willman, host and executive producer of Magic for Humans to my INTJ list:

Magic for Humans (Netflix) is a really well-produced show. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth checking out.

Here’s an interview:

I was thrown off a bit when Justin called the Google audience a “smart room.” At first I thought he was talking about smart technology, but then I realized—this is stage terminology. Calling the room a “(whatever) room” is a way to label the traits and needs of the audience, to help magicians learn more about their craft.

Some quotes that stood out to me:

“I can intersperse myself in different groups of humans, and find out that…we’re all human.” (Experimentalist-theoretician; summarizing; explaining)

“People think they want to know how magic works, but really they don’t. How it works is never as amazing as what the trick was in the first place, so it’s never going to make you feel good. Somebody just wanting to know how a trick works is never enough to make me want to tell them.” (Letting you in on the meta-secret)

“Basically the job of a magician is to do impossible things that challenge the nature of the universe. And I think some magicians buy into that perception a little too much. These days that turns people off a little bit. I’m not a wizard. I don’t have special powers. If I did, I would not be doing magic for a living!” (Meta-perspective on quality)

“Some people love magic for the right reasons: They love to experience wonder. They don’t want to know how it works. In this day and age, we know how everything works. We can Google anything and the answer is never really far away. Magic is a break from that where you get to enjoy mystery. And then there’s the people who watch the trick but don’t want to enjoy it because they want to figure it out and they feel like I’m challenging their intelligence, which I’m not doing. Those people are hell-bent on not enjoying magic and probably not enjoying their lives either.” (Right/wrong qualitative reasoning about people and their choices, mixed with background, theory, and probabilistic intuition and prediction)

Justin is really good example of an INTJ working in entertainment. I think I’ve mentioned before that this can be a risky field for INTJs, drawing as it does on our inferior function, Se.

What of Se? Well, extroversion, improvisation, performance orientation, audience pressure, and important sensory details are key elements of the entertainer’s working day, and that can be really exhausting to INTJs. The INTJ’s opposite type, the ESFP, is a Se-dominant type, and typically better suited to long-form use of Se. Still, those elements tend to call to us…“wouldn’t it be cool if…” … “that would really blow peoples’ minds…” so you never know when you’ll spot an INTJ in those entertainer’s shoes.

The magician archetype is also a really helpful one for INTJs in general. I’m glad to have become acquainted with INTJs around the world who have done the magician archetype proud, in lots of interesting, life-changing, and non-literal ways as well.

Filed in: /22/ | /57/ | /36/ | /29/

A Basic Creative Anchor: Hope

Monday March 15, 2021

A number of basic anchors are required in order to establish long-lasting creative works, or rather, creative styles.

Hope is a big one. If you can find a place for hope in your creative process, you can maintain an active energy transport to and from your personal system of ideals.

If you can do that—if you can keep the energy flowing to and from your ideals, you can 1) consciously measure the progress of a creative undertaking relative to your ideals and 2) use your intuition to correct a project’s path before it fails your higher-level creative energy.

Hope is the baseline—you have to be able to say: “I’m going to be a little naive and think hopefully,” or “I’m going to take a risk and harbor hope, even though I’ve been a pessimist before.”

Beyond that basic point of “ok fine, I’ll hope for good stuff”, hope in what is a really important question. The answer to this question should be a sort of intuitive design specification:

  • I hope we can complete this project in a way that is a win for all of us.
  • I hope that we can create something really special here, not just a repeat of past failures.
  • I hope that we can sustain this creative energy throughout the project.

These are midpoint specifications. From each of these you can derive a more detailed set of structures that inform the day-to-day process.

This is design.

Working through this process is what will lead to the “hope works” idea. If you hope in isolation, maybe positive outcomes are less certain. Hope starts to feel stupid, especially as an anchor.

And the funny thing is, this hope-anchor is kind of an inverse anchor. Instead of an anchor to the sea floor, like most anchors (anchoring us metaphorically to our past), it’s an anchor up in the sky, or out in space. It’s a vague anchor to our future, and there seems to be no fixed point of location for now.

This feels scary, vulnerable, and it may awaken an unnecessary contingency reflex in us INTJs. Especially if we think we already know the future, or can predict it. We may have to work hard to learn creative and conceptual design principles first, in order to release our overly-firm grip on the only outcome we can perceive at present.

Principles of design can help us remain open to unanticipated, emergent, creative, surprising, happy outcomes—mainly watching ourselves create them!

So this re-connection with hope is really important. What does that look like for you?

Filed in: /97/ | /45/ | /49/ | /48/

What You Been Up To? March 2021

Saturday March 13, 2021

Some Readers writes:

What have you been up to lately?

Kind of lots of stuff? I think I’m building up to more publishing here. Maybe not but I kinda think so. And remember, I’m a publishes-in-batches guy anyway. I mean:

  • I injured myself and am doing rehab (shoulder) which sucks but hey, at least it’s not BOTH shoulders, which I’ve done before
  • Watson, the younger of my two cats, and the perennial & vocal baby of the family, appears to be nearing the end of his mortal journey… :-( This is tender and difficult to consider…
  • I’m working on a new charitable giving framework, structuring the way I do this stuff. So far I’m really happy to have made more steps in this direction.
  • I am finalizing a new “Executive Distance” module for Task BATL, which will likely be published soon
  • I’m pushing some solo RPG campaigns forward…
    • One’s about a multi-billion-dollar affinity cult that moves into South America and starts manipulating nation-states with generous contributions; meanwhile the British monarchy is on its trail because some members of the royal family joined the cult long ago and it was discovered that they absconded with some important treasures
    • Another one’s kinda like Rick Steves in Space (spoiler, he is a member of an insectoid species) and some mercenaries who have been hired to blend in and protect him from strange goings-on.
    • And finally there’s one about a pulp-style American detective who was hot stuff in the 1930s, and is now 70 years old in 1980s Cold War Berlin, trying to solve the recent and very suspicious death of his daughter, in the same city.
  • I picked up the Gumshoe Bundle of Holding deal, because I’ve been wanting to read Timewatch, and Delta Green looked cool as well. So far it’s been fun reading.
  • My DriveThruRPG cart is also well-loaded because it’s the GM’s day sale. I piled on some more stuff from Precis Intermedia, but also a few new supers RPGs.
  • Oh and I backed Amazing Heroes which looks like it ought to be simple and fun.
  • A lot of other admittedly big and personal-breakthrough-style stuff I can’t go into right now, but hope to someday
    • Reminder: Learning is power; knowledge is power. And, those two things will teach you that learning and knowledge are not all-powerful. And that’s powerful! And it’s all true, all of that, at different levels. There’s really no need to fear giving up on knowledge and power…but it must be handled with a light & deft grasp…

Some more fun

  • ITAP of my wine
    • Cool subreddit
  • Confessions subreddit is new to me, kinda entertaining
    • Yes, there are people who are like that, is one thing that continually shocks and interests me, sitting over here with my haughty covert ethics system of how-great-I-am
  • Ask Astrologers is interesting
    • I continue to find some value in these studies, they’re not all-powerful and there’s a lot of nuance but still, I like it

Have a great week everybody!

Filed in: /80/ | /23/

Various Levels of Speculation, from Wild to Risk-averse

Tuesday February 23, 2021

Since there is a lot of idle talk about investing or trading being “gambling,” I thought I’d speculate on a sort of gambling-gradient which could be useful for normal people.

  1. Wild speculation, throwing a significant percentage of one’s holdings into turbulent, ephemeral opportunities or ventures, having taken little interest in fundamentals or technical factors
  2. Wild speculation, throwing a significant but more easily renewable percentage of one’s holdings into temporary opportunities or ventures, having taken little interest in fundamentals or technical factors
  3. Wild speculation, but for entertainment purposes and with a reasonable percentage of holdings, i.e. play money
  4. Speculation based on little insight or information, but only risking one’s non-critical resources, e.g. helping a friend guess the answer on a game show (possible small amount of reputation on the line)
  5. Speculation, but for entertainment purposes and in a regulated environment
  6. Speculation, but following group / citizen tradition with a general intuitive sense for the odds
  7. Speculation, but parallelling expert or institutional interest, with technical and fundamental factors widely available for research
  8. Speculation, but diversified across markets and assets, in an educated fashion
  9. Risk-averse Speculation, widely diversified across markets and assets, with expert advisement, with risk spread over multiple time frames
  10. Risk-averse Speculation, as a drastically reduced percentage of the overall portfolio, e.g. 0.1% to 10% of total holdings
  11. Risk-averse Speculation, at a drastically reduced percentage of the overall portfolio, and only during specific life periods, e.g. when young and healthy

How do you speculate, and where does it fall on the list?

Do you feel pressured to pick one method, or do you see why multiple methods may help you reach your goals faster, or in a more interesting or entertaining way?

Filed in: /57/ | /85/

Six Key Forms of Courage

Wednesday February 10, 2021

1. The Courage to Trust Your Selves

  • The Courage to Trust Past Self
  • The Courage to Trust Current Self
  • The Courage to Trust Future Self

2. The Courage to Discover and Discard the Standard Self

  • The Courage to Listen to Outside Perspectives
  • The Courage to Discover the Standard Self
  • The Courage to Discard and Move Beyond the Standard Self

3. The Courage to Try Again What Didn’t Work for You Before

  • The Courage to Break from Patterns Set by Past Contexts
  • The Courage to Interrogate the Method, Context, and Plan
  • The Courage to Raise Awareness to Observation toward Improvement

4. The Courage to Follow the Appropriate Path while Anticipating Trouble

  • The Courage to Anticipate and Prepare for Trouble
  • The Courage to Trust One’s Own Response to Trouble
  • The Courage to Learn Lessons from Responding to Trouble and Rise Again

5. The Courage to Support Others’ Paths

  • The Courage to Trust Outside-self Paths
  • The Courage to Understand Outside-self Paths
  • The Courage to Support Outside-self Paths

6. The Courage to Bring Form to New Energy

  • The Courage to Produce New Energy
  • The Courage to Publish New Energy
  • The Courage to Refine and Redouble the Spread of New Energy

Filed in: /34/

Spitballing Session: A Moral Code Development Scale

Saturday January 30, 2021

Can we develop a gauge to guide the development of moral codes and moral behavior?

I think we can, and in doing so maybe we can avoid the trap of becoming too prescriptive too early. That is, maybe we can help guide ourselves to a good outcome without developing just another moral code.

Here is a quick draft scale, moving from primitive and subjective and up to nuanced, broadly effective and more objective:

  1. Single word or single phrase-based moral codes
    1. e.g. “Be charitable”
  2. Collections of such — The Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes
    1. “Also” collections. Mainly additive in creation. For example, “oh and also don’t steal from people.”
  3. Collection-to-Personalization Bridge: Belief Systems that Bridge Codes back down to Subjective Level
    1. A necessary accommodation for when the collection or single-word approach seems to start to condemn individuals left and right…
    2. Jesus: “Neither do I condemn thee—go and sin no more”
    3. Revolutionary swap from “stay on the good side” to “we are all bad, and good”
  4. Transcendence into Moral Code Diversity
    1. An Understanding and Appreciation of Many Codes: From Jesus to Buddha to…
    2. Codes brought together to forge new codes
      1. Some looser than others! Incl. Corporate Mission Statements
    3. Collective Accommodation of Personal Difference
      1. Go and be who you are
      1. Collection of Collective Accommodations of Personal Difference
        1. Go and do what you are; I will do what I am, and in this context we can helpfully reference the story of…
  5. Transcendence of Moral Code Diversity
    1. Why are you who you are? How do you see yourself? Listening and compiling
    2. Why do you do this or that thing? Understanding and analyzing
    3. Many codes are appreciated for being just that: Many & diverse
    4. Giving significant thought to the meta-viewpoint of “what is happening with the ‘us’”
  6. Evolution into Considerate Beings with Periodic Code-reference
    1. Contextual change is easily given significant weight in moral code selection – Group evolution – Differing circumstances
    2. Consideration is easily given to various moral codes
    3. Arrangements are understood to affect specific circumstances
    4. It is understood why no one moral code “wins” over others.
    5. Moral codes can be improvised, but they can also be built for ongoing refinement
    6. The same moral code can be designed to be communicated in different ways, with different reasoning, so that it remains useful across psychologies and contexts.
      1. Creative example: Newly-developed memes and legends
  7. Transcendence of Moral Code Reference
    1. “People should be” is pretty much dead, replaced by narrative exchange, measurement exchange, or other outside-in methods of discovery and contact
    2. At the same time, the best parts of a moral code are brought forward, especially since a moral code mindset may be native to specific humans or evolved humans
      1. All the more important that the best parts are made available to these individuals for encouragement and setting appropriate boundaries for those with whom they make contact

It may be possible for a human to believe they are making it right through this scale, but as a group? We have a long way to go.

Which is a good thing, for a development scale.

OK, enough for now, more later maybe.

Filed in: /34/ | /85/ | /38/ | /97/

Using the RPG Interest for Personal Development

Monday January 25, 2021

One of the things I like to track is the way my personal interests are “directional,” in a metaphorical sense. They reliably provide me with timely and specific clues, clues that point at helpful mindsets or tools for the current situation I’m in.

If you’re ever feeling down, or stressed, or overwhelmed, or just a bit disorganized, this practice can really help.

Today I want to share some examples of how I use the role playing game (RPG) interest as a direction-finder.

1. Decide What The Character Will Do

When I get really interested in RPGs, I like to open my daily journal entry and start a new list. I’ll use this list to decide what my character will do. That character is me, but I’m thinking of myself from the third-person perspective.

Each item on the list starts with “I’d like him to” or “I want him to.” Examples from this last Saturday:

  • I want him to enjoy the day.
  • I want him to get some rest and then a bit of exercise.
  • I want him to monitor funds (trading).
  • I want him to do some journaling and read his weekend file.
  • I want him to upgrade the router firmware.
  • I would love for him to write a backup script for the new system. Or plan it.

These lists are usually different from my first-person ideas. For example, I have been nursing an injury, and I had decided not to do any exercise at all. But my third-person view was, “I want him to get a bit of exercise, even if he can’t do all of them.”

It’s strange, in this way, because the emotional detachment helps to figure out reasonable ways to do things. I also find that I feel less pressure to do tons of things in one day.

Compared to the first-person perspective, this outside-in view is generally much more reasonable about what’s possible or needed.

2. Imagine Favorite Characters, and Ask Them About Their Mission

Usually a specific type of character will come to me through the intuition, and seem more fascinating than usual.

On Saturday it was a tall cyberpunk guy in a long overcoat, with blue hair. He had a blue “chip”, like a diskette which was really important.

I’ve seen him in my mind’s eye before. Usually this guy represents a fusion of emotional and logical / rational needs. He’s productive in the sense that he can handle both ways of being pretty well, and still make progress. He’s usually on a tricky mission that accomplishes a lot, but some up-front breakthrough effort is needed.

I started a new section in my journal, where I could have an intuitive “conversation” with this symbolic voice. As soon as I had jacked into this thinking mode, he started briefing me:

Marc. I have the data chip. We need to get it into the master computer system.

What does the data chip hold?

Numbers. Measurements. Data. Good stuff.

OK (I get it—this is a prompt to make a schedule and track progress). How am I doing.

Good but there is more data, more chips.

Yeah, that’s a big blue data chip. Should I get super-organized?

Yep. Also there is the spreadsheet you made.

I also get the feeling I should get ready for the day? I’m still in my pajamas.



I pulled up a schedule with 15-minute time slots and filled it out.

As soon as I finished that, the interest in this character started to fade. That’s normal. He’s still interesting, but not as fixating.

This process used to be a lot more funny to me. I almost hate to admit it, but now it’s more like a quick and helpful utility—something far more mundane!

The character, the colors I see in my mind, the theme, the data chip—it’s all meaningful, and I’ve long since learned that it has a lot to do with the combination of emotion and rationality that I’ve addressed above.

Essentially, this guy always helps me find a win-win for the day—I do what I need to do, but I also do what’s fun, or interesting, or fulfilling.

There are many characters like this in my files—hundreds of them, easily. Each one seems to signify a new type of conversation or mindset which would be helpful.

3. Develop and Understand the Themes. Or Even Just Ranges and Spaces

It can help to build a personal idea of the subjective “meaning” of a type of game that I’m interested in. For example, low-fantasy role playing games which take place in subterranean caverns have a different meaning in my symbol system than does strategic global warfare.

A big concept here is range and space: How far do the weapons shoot or defend, and how enclosed is the space.

At tight ranges, and in tight spaces, I find that I’m looking at really tight timelines, possibly emergencies. If fighting off a zombie hoard with a baseball bat is really interesting, then there’s a good chance I’ve overbooked myself, for example. It may be that a clever escape (doing some creative schedule-destruction and re-authoring) is a better idea than a continuation of the uneven fight.

At long ranges, and in expansive strategic spaces, I find that the longer timelines, schedules, and goals need my attention. These may seem less-pressing to the inxperienced eye, but if neglected they tend to turn into nuclear apocalypse situations, which are pretty bad across the board.

Some Final Thoughts

The coolest part of this is that it’s so subjective. These symbols can mean just about anything to any individual, and they are infinitely deep. The sets of symbols are more like fractals, begging for exploration and development.

I hope it’s helped to share a basic personal example.

And to my symbolically-axe-wielding, snub nose revolver-loading friends: Hang in there! Build on your strengths and you’ll find a way through.

Filed in: /31/ | /117/ | /96/ | /32/ | /29/ | /85/ | /53/ | /80/ | /45/ | /49/ | /17/

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