– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that we introverts have our unique strengths and weaknesses. But, believe it or not, many introverts aren’t aware of their particular advantages in life. And even among those who do know their strengths, the vast majority still haven’t learned how to put them to their best use.
One of the simplest ways to figure out where you naturally shine as an introvert is through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality assessment (based on the work of psychologist Carl Jung, the originator of the introvert-extrovert concept). While I don’t believe MBTI has all the answers, as a Certified Practitioner I have found the assessment to be extremely useful in identifying my clients’—and my own—social and professional strengths.
There’s a ton of stuff online about what MBTI is and isn’t, what all the preference pairs (introvert vs. extrovert, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, judging vs. perceiving) mean, etc., so I won’t go into any of that here. All you need to know for this article is that your “primary function” is the main way you process information and make decisions.
For myself, as an INTJ, my primary function is what’s known as “introverted intuition.” Simply put, I tend to go about my day making connections between things and assigning meaning to those connections.
Thinking this way has always benefited me somewhat in both my social and professional life (it’s also had its drawbacks…but that’s another article). In my social life, my tendency to find overlap between ideas has made it easy for me to have interesting conversations with anyone on just about any topic. Whereas in my professional life, being pattern-oriented has boosted the depth of my work as a writer and organizer.
Yet, it was only when I came to understand my primary function that I began to fully harness it.
In terms of dating and friends, over my entire adult life I noticed myself eventually feeling alienated from many of my peers whose black and white thinking on a whole slew of issues—from personal to political—rarely evolved. Meanwhile, my draw towards finding how things connect meant I inevitably kept discovering new, more holistic ways at looking at the world.
Once I understood why this was happening, I started to consciously seek out friends and dates who either shared this way of conceptual thinking, or at least weren’t put off by it. As a result, I began to find myself in far more compatible social and intimate relationships.
Understanding my primary function also revolutionized my career. Despite always being a hardworking and productive employee for various organizations, I eventually tended to clash a bit with my directors. At the time, I thought I was being helpful by suggesting what I believed to be new and improved ways of running campaigns or day-to-day aspects of the organization. Naturally, of course, my directors tended to see me as someone who didn’t know his place.
Once I learned my primary function was behind my constant quest for solving conceptual puzzles, I came to terms with the fact that I would likely always feel stifled working for others, and that bosses would have a hard time appreciating what I had to offer. That’s when I made the wise choice of starting up my own businesses.
In closing, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® isn’t a perfect tool and it’s not going to fix your life overnight. But if you come at it with an open mind, there’s a very good chance you’ll gain some insight on yourself and where you fit in the world.
As a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Certified Practitioner, Wes Colton can help you identify your personal strengths and leverage them to improve your social, dating, and professional life. Email him today at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out Introvert Unbound’s MBTI coaching packages.