Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking inventory

With 100 posts under my belt, I guess I can now describe myself as an avid blogger.  It should come as no surprise, therefore, that I am a big fan of sneaky ways to squeeze reflection and introspection into the day.  Dating back to the days of diligently completing teen magazine quizzes, I've also been a staunch advocate of assessments and inventories as a starting point.

A couple of years ago, I joined a leadership development group through work, and one of its integral pillars was the Strengths Finder inventory: completing it once at the beginning of the year-long program and once at the end, plus giving the book to two other friends and talking about their own results.  

I love this exercise because it's so easy to center daily reflection simply on what went wrong and dwell on what mistakes were made - and this inventory identifies five tangible strengths of what you bring to the table every day at work and home.  You're supposed to consider teaming up with people whose strengths are opposite yours, contrary to the easy appeal of pairing up with people who are similar to you.  I still think often about this approach, long after I finished that program.

I liked learning what my strengths were because they represented parts of my personality that I knew I valued but for which I sometimes didn't have the words to describe.  Others probably come as no surprise, for you and me both.  My top strengths:
  • Positivity
  • Learner
  • Input
  • Empathy
  • Relator
Recently I stumbled on an adaptation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, one of the classic personality inventories.  I had to complete it when I was a junior in college, during my first week at an internship, and I can't remember for the life of me how I scored.  Obviously, I was long overdue to re-assess.

I'm not sure if the adaptation matches the original wording of the questions exactly, but some resonated strongly with me:
  • You prefer to act immediately rather than speculate about various options.  No.
  • You feel involved when watching TV soaps.  Um, yes! 
  • You find it difficult to speak loudly.  Story of my life.
Others required more brain capacity than I was working with that day: "You value justice higher than mercy." I have to choose "yes" or "no"?

Anyway, 72 questions later, it turns out that I am an INFJ: a moderately expressed introvert, a moderately expressed intuitive personality, a distinctly expressed feeling personality, and a very expressed judging personality.

Once you get your results, there are a few links for how to actually explain those little letters.  This is from, which breaks down each of the 16 combinations into longer descriptions.  INFJ is under the "idealist" subcategory and is officially dubbed the Counselor. I run the dual risk of soul-baring and over-sharing by quoting Keirsey, but here goes:
"Counselors . . . find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that . . . they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.
Counselors . . . can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise."
I included this not with "Whee! Look at me!" intentions, but because I was floored by how closely it hit home - and not in a horoscope way, where one can bend a vague sentence to match his or her day exactly.  Like StrengthsFinder, it articulated traits that I didn't know how to describe.  Besides literally identifying the two paths my professional work has taken so far, it's true that I can be a Major League Goofball with the people closest to me and more reserved elsewhere.  

I think this blog has helped me blend those two sides.  At best, it has given me an outlet for sharing what's on my mind with friends near and far away.  At worst?  Well, at worst, Reader, you've gotten a look at my "unusually rich, complicated inner life" consisting of Boofus, Pin Man, clouds, and frozen pizza.

In keeping with my INFJ bad self, enough about me. The whole point of this post: I want to drop a challenge on you.  Try the quiz or something similar!  It takes 10 minutes.  Do the results surprise you? Do you like this stuff?  Do you believe in it?  What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I'm an, pretty much almost the exact opposite of you :) My 5 strengths are Positivity, Harmony, Communication, Activator (all of which I agree with, some more than others) and Maximizer, which I don't think is me at all...