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Powerful But Not All-Powerful

Self-awareness can be like getting the keys to a Ferrari- but it’s worthless if the keys don’t fit the ignition (incomplete or inaccurate self-awareness). Or one only uses overdrive. Or the individual gets pulled over by the police and then says, “Can’t help it. Can’t you see I am driving a Ferrari”. Or the person can’t read the road conditions and adjust accordingly.

In my experience as an MBTI master practitioner, I am glad but at the same time a little dismayed when I learn individuals have had experience with the concepts of the MBTI or psychological type. I am glad because we aren’t starting from scratch. Dismayed because it is often incomplete or misunderstood. Here are few of the observations I have noticed when type concepts are overused, incompletely understood, or the individual has not had a rigorous discussion around the verification of his or her type:

1. Individuals may try to fit themselves into the mold of their type- often by observing their own behavior and attributing it to the findings.

2. Personality is partly heritable and partly environmental. The mix of influences is about 50-50. How is this known? Studies of identical twins raised apart account for much of this data. Who you are is not entirely explained by type.

3. There is a fairly high chance that reported type can be off by one or more letters. Although questionnaires try to create questions that will capture the essence of a concept, how someone responds to those questions is open to individual interpretation.

4. How you perceive, judge and behave is an integrative process. Understanding the component parts of your personality does not mean they operate independently of each other.

5. There are go to or default modes in your thinking so your brain can operate efficiently. Imagine if everything that was perceived or judged required deliberation. At the same time, you can choose how you behave.

Type is powerful but not all-powerful. Type is most powerful when it’s accurate and placed in the context of the broader lens of the individual’s personal experiences. The nature of self-discovery is intoxicating. Yes! This is who I am! resonates with just about everyone. At the same time, inaccurate or overemphasized knowledge in this area can create a fair amount of havoc in an individual’s life. Therefore, when you get the keys to your own Ferrari, be sure they are the right keys and know how to drive that car in many ways and under multiple conditions. In that way, you will have power and control over who you become.

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