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Successful INTJs: Less Tony Stark, More Iron Man

Thursday July 28, 2016

The various branches of Jungian psychology give us healthy models against which we can compare ourselves. In the case of the Meyers-Briggs INTJ (Socionics ILI, etc.), I believe a Tony Stark vs. Iron Man comparison makes it easier to offer an “unhealthy vs. healthy” visualization.

INTJs as Tony Stark [Unhealthy]

This person is a slave to their compulsions, driven by their senses.

  • Showy and blunt (“I did/can do amazing thing X”)
  • Driven by big payoffs
  • Haunted by compulsive feeding of the senses
  • Physical thrills: Drives fast cars, fast. Big weapons. Probably loves e.g. martial arts.
  • Sexual: Needing lots of pretty women around
  • Other sensory engagement: Needs to build really cool stuff, by himself
  • In defeat, sees compromise of own work as a personal failure and vows to rebuild and make it bigger and better next time
  • In success, sees opportunity to gloat and force the world to give them their prized (Kiersey) deference
  • Does not consult the deeper self; acts impulsively
  • Liable to be insulted and strike back
  • Avoids the important and the mundane, especially if combined

Note that “driven by” and “being a slave to” are different from “enjoy this activity” and “like to do this activity periodically for relaxation”.

INTJs as Iron Man [Healthy]

  • Driven by logical mission parameters
  • Consults an inner advisor (J.A.R.V.I.S.) on strategy and measurements (Ni+Te)
  • Slightly distrusts negative thinking, all-or-nothing thoughts, or really disruptive thoughts (especially his own), no matter how alluring it seems (J.A.R.V.I.S. programmed to provide objective data when mistakes are about to be made)
  • Patient and methodical in reviewing objective thinking / information—understands eventual convergence toward the single best conclusion (Ni)
  • Consults actual measurements and objective data (Te) in order to drive decisions toward higher impact (Se)
  • Recalls patterns from a deep pool in order to act on objective information (Ni+Te)
  • Relies on contingency thinking to ensure mission success (backup weapons, other backup systems)
  • Systematizes (Mk. I, II, etc.) and delegates (J.A.R.V.I.S. remote-controlling the suits in Iron Man III) in order to scale up his effectiveness
  • Comprehends yet is not harmed by insults due to a strong objective thought filter
  • Seems to need little attention or deference in order to exist; just “is”
  • Systematically accomplishes the important and the mundane
  • Goals are based on use of built-in gifts (Ni+Te for perception and analysis, with Se being present but less dominating)
  • Solutions come easy (uses gifts rather than constant use of inferior function Se)

Well, I get the feeling the metaphor will break soon. But I think it’s worth watching the way Iron Man solves problems (even if it literally just appears to be Tony Stark inside a suit) vs. how Tony Stark the man attempts to solve problems.

One question worth considering is, say you’re an INTJ and you’re haunted by typical INTJ inferior Se problems like:

  • Compulsive web surfing
  • Binge-watching TV
  • Procrastinating
  • PMO
  • Drugs
  • Overeating
  • Over-exercising

Your anxiety is over the top, and beyond that you’ve got a nice layer of depression weighing everything down.

So how do you get to Iron Man? You feel like Tony Stark with his hands tied.

I think I’d suggest measurement, first.

  • How much of your time is spent procrastinating and indulging those things?
  • At what time of day?
  • What kind of projects or work are causing this stress? Is it detail-oriented, hands-on work?
  • How do you feel on days when this kind of thing is happening?

A good notebook is an excellent tool for getting at those measurements.

Once you have the measurements, the solutions start to suggest themselves:

  • If you’re spending 3-4 hours a day procrastinating, you are wasting an incredible amount of time—what elements of the situation would make things so hard? Is it really just you? Do you really think you’re just lazy? Could it be that you’re not using your gifts, and are relying on your alluring inferior function, Se?
  • If this is happening in the middle of the work day, I’d hold the work day suspect.
    • First, you now have permission to do whatever you want in the middle of the work day. Better that than give into compulsive behavior, right?
    • Second, while under that temporary cover—some rough time management—if the procrastinated tasks seem detail-oriented, boom, you’re probably using your inferior function, Se, too much. Stop being a Tony Stark—no more doing it all yourself, no more vowing that you’ll show everybody and blow them away. This applies to INTJ graphic designers, INTJ computer programmers, INTJ dentists, etc. It’s all hands-on, realtime responses to sensory input: Detail work.
    • Third, no matter what the character of the work, you need to get above it and beyond it. Since you are by definition a systems thinker, you need to detach yourself and your interests from individual projects and into the systems level. How can you systematize what you’re doing? How can you delegate? (Example: “Boss, I found a local company that can design our marketing graphics for $X. Let’s pay them, and then I’ll be able to take on and manage additional efforts Y and Z, PLUS this one, at a strategic level. We’ll have a cohesive plan and won’t lose any time down in the details.”)

This is pretty rough thought. But for me the overall picture works. And of course, you get to be Iron Man. Who doesn’t want to be Iron Man?

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