The box – will you fit into it?

My friend Rolf is leery about personality tests – and I can understand why. The Keirsey/MBTI one, for instance, seems limiting, saying that people can necessarily fit into one of 16 types?

I think to a certain extent, people can be classified as having certain traits. You’ll always meet someone who reminds you of another in some way, whether habit-wise, political leanings or temperament.

The MBTI might be useful career-wise as it gives you an idea of what sort of temperaments lean towards a certain calling. Though of course, some say that there are no real ‘job matches’ – we make what we can of our circumstances, and are flexible enough to bring different things to different jobs.

I keep testing as an INFJ which I don’t mind at all. Though I seriously think the ‘only 1% of the population’ statement is bull because there seems to be so many INFJs. A quick summary of the type goes thus: “Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things until they are done. Extremely intuitive about people, and concerned for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they strictly adhere to. Well-respected for their perseverance in doing the right thing. Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following.”

There’s also something about the description I identify with, something I call the Cassandra syndrome. “INFJs place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives.

On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions.”

Then I surf some more and find this:

INFJs are most likely to find interesting and satisfying those careers that make use of their depth of concentration, grasp of abilities, warmth and empathy, and ability to organize. INFJs are often found in careers where creativity and facilitating human development are primary activities. Their orientation to people, confidence in their insights into the nature of things and people, and fertile imagination often attract them to careers where they can draw out the possibilities in others. These same qualities can also lead to exceptional empathic abilities.”

More stuff I relate to:

She claims that INFJs balance visioning with compassion, and says what they do naturally is connect ideas to people and values.  She says they prefer to live their values, and they want to actualize their visions.


INFJs often see work as a mission or service and want work to make a difference for others.  They want to grow through their vocations.  INFJs have an idealistic belief in people and in what they can accomplish, and they act to promote the alignment of values and actions, calling upon organizations to "walk their talk."  They also like variety and opportunities to be creative and dream up new approaches.

I suppose the biggest issue I had with my job is the almost total focus on making a profit to the absolute exclusion of any higher purpose. Yes, we’re a tech magazine but I was disappointed that The Mag never spearheaded any personal CSR efforts. We reported on the occasional charity event, but we never organised our own. We ‘supported’ government endeavours when we had the clout and resources to actually push our own campaigns. And I did try to find more meaning in my work, and believe that I was giving back. But in the end, I always felt disappointed…and felt guilty. As if what I was doing gave nothing back to society; that I wasn’t doing enough for God.

It’s not like I haven’t asked or prayed. I’ve done the whole “Here I am, Lord, let me serve.” My time is up now – I’ve felt the gentle push out of the door to other vistas. Now the challenge is whether I will find it in myself to bend the knee and finally learn to serve.

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