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Healthy Development Models for the INTJ

Tuesday October 25, 2016

One of the most powerful aspects of personality type study is the revelation of the “healthy personality model,” or the idea that type gives you insights into the completed, individuated self. Research into the development of your own personality type can give you powerful glimpses of a potential future you. Research into all types can help you isolate additional areas for personal growth.

This is all part of becoming your best self—attacking day-to-day pitfalls like depression and boredom by discovering and exploring who you are.

By studying the INTJ and comparing myself with the “typical” INTJ preference set, I found areas where I was not using powerful gifts. Bringing those gifts into play allowed me to lose 35% of my bodyweight and accomplish other huge life & work goals.

Look over the following list: Who do you know, of the various types? What can you learn from them? Who do you want to get closer to, and observe more closely?

These are in rough order, from what I consider most powerful models, to perhaps least-but-still-useful.

Please note that not everyone’s the same, and your experiences in comparing your strengths and weaknesses to others should be weighed and judged just like in any other decision-making process.

The Models

1. Being More Like A “Typical” INTJ

It might seem unnecessary, but lots of INTJs could use improvement in this area. Before looking to other personality types, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re really in control of your natural gifts.

In what ways are you personally different from the “typical” INTJ? Can you open your mind to that difference, and explore INTJ-ier ways of doing things, even if you feel you’ve already experienced them in the past? Read up on the cognitive functions. Dario Nardi, an expert in the field of type, suggests that INTJs develop, after Ni and Te, Fi, Se, and Ti.

Understanding Te and setting up a “life improvement journal” & personal goal-tracking spreadsheet for the first time helped me lose a huge amount of weight. Understanding Ti helped me learn to procrastinate less and accomplish more with my time by creating helpful mental models and frameworks.

Let’s also break down the INTJ’s four-letter personality type code:

  • I is for Introversion. Is there a way to make my environment more introverted to support my needs? Do I need more quiet time to think? Am I under too much pressure to act now?
  • N is for iNtuition. How can I consult my intuition more often? If I imagine the solution to my current problem, what comes to mind first?
  • T is for Thinking. How could I measure my progress in solving this problem? What checklist items would get me to where I need to be?
  • J is for Judgement. Am I sitting back and “imagining” too often? What is an executive action measure I could take right now that would instantly get me going?

By behaving more like an INTJ, you tune into your natural gifts. See if learning to act “more on type” in this way gives you more leverage over your problems.

2. Being More Like A Spouse, Partner, Friend, or Close Family Member

In Awakening the Hero Within, Carol Pearson writes that our closest relationships give us hints to the ways our subconscious wants us to develop. The important differences between your personality type and your partner’s, for example, may account for your inner drive to spend time with them.

Ask yourself what impresses you or draws you to that person. Do you need to be doing more of that in your own life, personally? Start practicing it, and keep notes on your progress.

Emulating others’ best qualities is a great way to become a more mentally and emotionally independent person.

3. Being More Like the ENTP Personality Type

This is pretty fun for INTJs. ENTPs usually have a lot of fun with the sorts of subjective thinking that can really help INTJs. By “subjective,” I mean “my ideas”—what are your personal theories or observations on things? Can you gradually build and refine those theories as a way of gaining great leverage? As you observe a problem unfolding at work, what are the factors that are always present?

Or, if you had to invent an acronym to model a solution for a common problem you confront, what would the acronym be? As you gain more experience, keep an open mind to changing the acronym as needed.

Here’s another thing you can try: Take a journey, just on the surface of a fun or interesting topic, without diving in too deep. Last weekend I had a “Star Trek” weekend and caught up on some things I like about the Star Trek franchise. Then I designed a planet to which I’d like to travel. When I got bored, I moved along rather than forcing further development of the planet’s characteristics.

Conlangs are another area where you find lots of ENTPs. Ever tried to invent your own language? What’s a simple way you could start, without googling an “approved process” for doing so? Subjective thinking means finding your own way through a process, without letting others do too much of your thinking for you.

4. Being More Like Older INTJs, or INTJs who are more mature or further along than you

This is one of the key mentoring pairs for INTJs. Older INTJs are basically further along the same general path that your life will take. This is part of archetype theory, which Carl Jung developed heavily.

INTJs are typically similar to the “sage” or “magician” archetype. Some research here may save you trouble later on in your life.

Personality development is like working on a mandala, in that some themes may repeat again and again. For this reason it’s crucial to keep your mind wide open when studying under another INTJ. Try everything and don’t just say “I already know that” or “I’ve done that before.” Remember that themes will repeat but the outcomes usually differ.

5. Being More Like the ESFP Personality Type

INTJs tend to under-emphasize or even hide a relaxed, playful, lives-in-the-moment, upbeat personality. But it’s a very nice fallback for extremely stressful times.

We also, and maybe especially, hide a lazy side. People who constantly push themselves toward self-improvement aren’t generally happy with how productive they are in the first place. So sometimes we need to understand that part of our life-system just has to include laziness, and not so much “doing stuff”.

If we don’t give ourselves permission to recuperate and be lazy, sometimes the extreme stress can be observable in e.g. binging behaviors, sensory overstimulation, partying all the time, acts of child-like immaturity, etc.

Try asking yourself every day: “What do I want to do today? What sounds fun and interesting?” You might even find that it helps you to consider those things before you consider the things you have to do.

Seek other methods of interacting with and impacting the world. For example, would it feel good right now to have an office dance party? Or to give a child a high-five? Or to dive into a swimming pool? “Make it happen,” one of my ESFP friends would say.

6. Being More Like the ISFP Personality Type

The ISFP holds an important key in their ability to wield both the strong values system of introverted feeling (Fi) and the life-in-the-moment attitude of extraverted sensing (Se) in what becomes a very laid back, easygoing persona.

INTJs who can learn to develop Fi are more likely to feel that they know who they really are. They feel comfortable in their own shoes, and don’t need to be someone they’re not. They do things they really want to do, rather than getting sucked into a focus on things like material wealth.

INTJs who develop Se are immersed in and active in the present context. They are open to taking risks and understand what it means to sometimes let things flow without planning.

7. Being More Like the ENFP Personality Type

ENFPs have an amazing ability to take in only the most necessary, surface-level information while keeping their minds open to many different types and sources of information. Conversely, INTJs sometimes dive too deep and can’t make out the forest from the trees.

Have you ever worked on a project, only to emerge from it and realize it’s not necessary anymore? ENFPs also have a strong sense of “what I wanna do” and “what I don’t wanna do.” They take life by the horns and deal with problems as they come up by referring to an internal values compass. Sometimes INTJs need this compass badly, but only use it in a black & white manner. Remain on the job or quit; spend the money or save it; be best friends or be no friend at all.

ENFPs also harness a powerful idealism that directs them to change the future and move toward a more harmonious, creative, engaging, exciting world. When INTJs learn to see life through this lens, it empowers them to bring about great change and be larger than life in ways that benefit others.

8. Being More Like the INFJ Personality Type

INFJs are deeply intuitive people who are highly attuned to the feelings of the people around them. The INFJ usually knows intuitively that they need to seek group permission in order to make progress with a group, and group permission is not always established by “expertise.” “Expertise is all it takes” is a common INTJ stumbling block, so we INTJs can really learn from INFJs here.

Watching an INFJ in action, INTJs can learn how to successfully deal with input from others while doing what’s necessary to maintain good feelings.

INTJs can also learn from INFJs how to trust the intuition and listen to its sometimes-irrational suggestions. Trusting intuition, even if it can’t be easily explained, can be crucial in a decisionmaking process. Learning to be guided by metaphor is another important practice in this realm: What do you need to be right now? A rock? A river? A cloud? A battle tank? Ask your intuition what it suggests, and be that thing.

9. Being More Like the ISFJ Personality Type

ISFJs are the epitome of the “helper.” This can be helpful for INTJs to observe, because INTJs sometimes tune out of a situation right when their help is needed most. INTJs sometimes believe they’ve “explained everything,” but often what people need is an activity partner, someone to walk through a process with them and be a little bit more patient. This is not a “skilled or unskilled” question, but a true psychological need. By paying attention to this need, INTJs can be more effective friends, parents, and workmates.

ISFJs stay in the current context and make sure all the details are taken care of before they move on. They take delight in knowing they helped fulfill others’ needs. If INTJs can learn to do this AND be sensitive to others’ feelings and input, they can gain a lot of respect from those around them.

ISFJs are also sensitive to what’s fair. When something’s not fair, they often complain rather than just absorbing the injury the way an over-introverted INTJ might. Where an INTJ might say, “well I signed the contract, so I’m screwed,” the ISFJ says, “that’s what’s in the contract, but what’s fair?” They can often renegotiate in a very powerful way, based on simple details that simply need to be straightened out and communicated.

Finally, watch how your ISFJ friends exercise and preserve their health. While lots of INTJs are into hard-hitting martial arts, or fast dancing, or heavy weightlifting, or even acrobatics, an ISFJ will naturally understand how to maintain their health in a simpler, gentler manner. Sometimes a brief walk is just the thing to put you back into control over your day. At other times, maybe you need to take a long bike ride, canoe down a river, or enjoy a peaceful picnic next to a favorite lake or river.

10. Being More Like the INFP Personality Type

INFPs are often more outwardly patient than the INTJ. The INFP may have a less rushed point of view regarding things like business decisions.

INFPs take objective, measurement- or evidence-based thinking to the max, often showing INTJs exactly how much additional information can be gleaned and brought to bear in a project.

INFPs also like to work toward the best result, rather than the satisfactory result that INTJs often aim for. For this reason it’s a good idea to watch the way INFPs deeply care about process and making or changing decisions as things unfold.

11. Being More Like the ISTJ Personality Type

ISTJs don’t like to let things slip or coast for too long without bringing them back into line. They are typically amazing at not procrastinating, even if they can be pretty harsh on themselves in this area. They’d rather take a moment and prepare for an event a few months down the road, than put it off for another couple months.

INTJs can learn from ISTJs that by taking action now, it’s easier to support an organized lifestyle. INTJs can also learn that it’s OK to have fun little side hobbies that don’t “mean” anything in particular. It’s also OK to learn to keep and display a nice collection of one’s favorite little objects or possessions. INTJs sometimes cycle between “I have a messy space with lots of little objects scattered around” and “I threw it all away, I’m a minimalist!” Learning to build and care for a collection of things can be a powerful, joy-giving skill that transfers knowledge and facility into other areas of life.

12. Being More Like the ENFJ Personality Type

The ENFJ can open doors that may be shut to the INTJ, by combining their subjective framework-creation skills with their ability to harmonize and empathize with others. While ENFJs are often quick to try to teach INTJs their ways, this can put too much pressure on an INTJ, too fast. For this reason I recommend that INTJs study ENFJs from afar, model their behavior when it seems appropriate, and occasionally try to read books written by ENFJs. Survival Games Personalities Play is an excellent personality type book by ENFJ Eve Delunas.

13. Being More Like the ENTJ Personality Type

ENTJs are excellent early adopters. They usually have the newest gadget, or book, or whatever. Conversely, the INTJ often derides or complains about the latest gadget and may favor the old way, which they contend never went obsolete. As we watch ENTJs we can find a healthy way to respect the views and needs of others where things like technology are concerned.

ENTJs see negotiation as part of life. Anything can be negotiated! And, most crucially, anything can be negotiated without getting upset. ENTJs are often known as extremely kind, giving people, despite their reputation for mental toughness.

14. Being More Like the ESTJ Personality Type

ESTJs are constantly seeking to organize and get on top of things. They are usually conservative with resources (like time and money) and judge success by efficiency.

A healthy ESTJ can show an INTJ many ways to be conservative and effective at the same time. This often starts with a status question: “Where am I on that project? What do I need to do next?”

15. Being More Like the ESTP Personality Type

ESTPs are great at diving in to work on the key leverage points right now. Other details may not matter at all!

ESTPs are also great at paying attention to competitive differences that count right now. In a competition, ESTPs often ask themselves: “What would be totally awesome?” and they do it.

Throwing your weight around when needed, but with “all due respect” to cultural or contextual roles—the healthy, culturally necessary aspect of paying lip service, is another ESTP specialty. Sometimes INTJs think they’re too good for respectful or honorary language. It’s true that we’re all just humans, but respect for cultural or contextual roles is a crucial part of the human success framework.

15. Being More Like the ISTP Personality Type

ISTPs are fantastic at mentally taking things apart and puzzling their way through logic, new concepts, or physical things like computers or machinery. INTJs can learn to propose frameworks (e.g. “widget X probably operates by the mechanism of…”) and refine those frameworks as new information comes in. Monitoring the way the model changes in their mind can give an INTJ deep insights into the way things work.

ISTPs are usually good negotiators who can use sweet language to see if they can work out a special deal for themselves. For an INTJ, this kind of negotiation is great practice. Perhaps no one owes you anything, but you never know if they’ll just give it to you when asked!

“Sweet language” is often a huge stumbling block for INTJs, who may stop at “polite” and never really begin to build simple forms of rapport.

16. Being More Like the ESFJ Personality Type

ESFJs often have a pleasant, child-like appreciation of new things; novelties, the little joys of the day-to-day. When an INTJ begins to appreciate these things, it adds deeper color and a new dimension of enjoyment to their life.

ESFJs are also great at obtaining permission from the group / group leadership. They enjoy listening deeply without interjecting. They understand that if you give your best to the group, the group will usually take care of you in turn. They also enjoy being a part of multiple groups, from which they derive layers of back-up benefit.

ESFJs rarely do anything like showing off, focusing more on rapport than personal excellence. They appreciate those who develop a skill deeply, and use it in a humble way while contributing to the success of a group. For an INTJ to even recognize that a group of which they’re a part has needs apart from their own can be a crucial developmental step.

17. Being More Like the INTP Personality Type

Rather than googling the answers to things, INTPs often say, “don’t tell me! I want to figure it out on my own!” INTPs tend to think of situations and concepts as “puzzles,” and find unique, interesting ways to approach those puzzles.

This is in stark contrast to the way INTJs see many of these puzzles as “solved problems,” and go looking for already-established solutions. Googling is an INTJ specialty!

As INTJs learn to solve their own problems in creative ways, they reach a new level of motivation and skill in life.

INTPs are also typically earlier-adopters than INTJs, due to their powerful extraverted intuition. They want to know about the various ideas and technologies that are available, and will put them to work while figuring out the supporting principles and concepts.

By respecting and understanding the way extraverted intuition (Ne) works, INTJs can learn to recognize patterns and play with patterns or even multiple patterns in ways that don’t tax their mental capacity so much.

18. Last but Not Least: Being More Like Total Strangers

Even if you don’t know their type, observe people as you encounter them. Are they benefiting in the current context? By what mechanism do they benefit? If their success could be described by a model, how would that model work?

Are they part of a group? How does the group respond to them? What actions seem to benefit them? What actions seem to hurt their standing in the group?

“When in Rome, do what the Romans do!” If this person is benefiting, see if you can narrow down the beneficial behaviors and find your own way of modeling them.

Summary and Caution

Overall, if you can remain open to the concept of personality type as an evolving journey of self-discovery and growth, I believe you can achieve the very best things that life has in store for every INTJ.

As a caution, some INTJs are perpetually seeking growth at the cost of their own peace of mind. Rather than embarking upon their journey, they are walking someone else’s journey to success, without taking their own comfort into account. As you learn to monitor how you feel about things—no matter how irrational the result—you’ll naturally settle on a more self-accepting path toward personal improvement. Good luck!

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