February 12, 2013

Introverts: Part 2) My Name Is John and I'm an Introvert

The next few posts will explore how my introversion has played out in my life.

You can blame my pal Donna Ives. I asked her to do a Myers-Briggs analysis for my housemates Bhawana and Nimesh, two young people raised in Nepal and now launching careers in the U.S. When I was human resources VP at BNA eons ago, we hired an executive development consultant to perform assessments on our top executives. The Myers-Briggs personality test was one of the standard tools. Donna, a recent BNA retiree, is trained and certified as a Myers-Briggs analyst.

Most people are familiar with Myers-Briggs. If you're not, you can check the Wikipedia description or The Washington Post's recent 50 years of Myers-Briggs article.

The questions in the M-B tests are designed to show where you score in four categories:
  1. Introvert-Extrovert
  2. Sensor-Intuitive
  3. Thinker-Feeler
  4. Judger-Perceiver
In combination, the groupings define 16 personality types.

Was an INFP. Now I'm an ISFP
I've taken the test several times. Sometimes the "N" changes to "S" or the "F" becomes a "T." But there's never been any doubt that I'm an "Introvert" and "Perceiver."

My retirement process included taking the test, which showed me then as an INFP. When Donna tested me again a few weeks ago, I was an ISFP. She said I'm on the cusp between S and N, adding "not a bad place to be."

The shorthand description for an INFP is "performing noble service to aid society." That sounds lovely and flattering. Those who know me will laugh at the description for an ISFP: "sees much but shares little." I'm not known to my friends and family as reticent about sharing. Instead, I frequently hear "TMI!"

When I read the fuller description of an ISFP, it seems to fit.

Introverts Need Not End Up Lonely and Unhappy
There's a common belief that introverts are lonely: just one of many misconceptions generated about us introverts by the extroverts who dominate society.

These "put-downs" make introverts, especially among the young, reluctant to acknowledge their status. As a child and young man, I wished I could be more like the extroverts I envied. But now I can say about my introversion what I learned to say about my alcoholism: "I'm a grateful introvert."

But with my alcoholism, I say "I'm a grateful recovering alcoholic."  Keeping my alcoholism at bay, one day at a time, is crucial to my happiness and well-being.

Not so with my introversion. I have no desire to recover from it or become an extrovert. But it took time for me to accept -- and enjoy-- being an introvert.

More to come. Stay tuned.

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