INTP – a reflection on my personality type

INTP personality (based on the Myers Briggs personality types) states that INTPs are solitary, eccentric, and independent – none of which is listed as desirable for corporate positions, which are usually designed for very different personality types. INTPs duly struggle in finding careers that meet their needs, but what they do bring, qualities in much higher demand, are creativity, a passion for theoretical methods and ideas, and an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. 

I don’t think I’m the most eccentric person I know but I’ve definitely found it hard to find employment that I’m happy to stick with for longer than a couple of years. I wonder how many companies, churches, charities or whoever are actually looking for creativity, a passion for ideas and an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit? To me, these qualities always seems to be an appreciated yet undervalued  sideline to whatever it is they actually employ you to be doing. 

Chief among INTPs’ interests is exploring and building models for underlying ideas, even going so far as to find these concepts, in their own way, beautiful. There are many careers that allow INTPs to explore these interests, but many of them are far too rooted in uninteresting practical applications. As useful as it is to develop a better vacuum cleaner, it is no Large Hadron Collider. 

I have been pondering on this for a few days… I think I currently call this ‘creative process’, building models for underlying ideas. It’s odd, I was drawn to a job at Dyson I saw on the internet the other day but it wasn’t ‘deep’ enough, it didn’t ask enough questions, it had no challenge. Perhaps that’s why I’m intrigued by (and enjoy) theatre so much… there is so much opportunity for building (designing, constructing, creating atmosphere) around underlying ideas. 

INTP personalities are self-driven and have very high personal standards – “good enough” is never good enough – but have few environmental needs. Despite this relative simplicity, they are often hard for more people-centric types to understand. INTPs live primarily in their own heads, and have little interest in social distractions like chitchat and motivational speeches.

For me, social interaction is much, much easier if it’s with a group I’ve done something with, worked on a project with, have some shared experience with. Living in my own head much of the time makes effectively communicating ideas my number one learning objective over the coming months. Right now I’m reflecting on my value and how I’m valued – I think it is more important to me than being understood. 

All INTPs really want is to immerse themselves in an interesting project, and anything that interrupts that, be it overactive managers, the need to manage others, or office parties or meetings, are simply unwelcome burdens.

Where INTPs do not thrive is in workplaces that require them to provide a high degree of emotional satisfaction. INTP personalities struggle to understand emotional exchanges, and service-oriented positions will prove baffling and exhausting for them. The flatter the workplace hierarchy, the better. Insightful and open-minded managers who can accommodate these needs will find their INTP subordinates to be a tireless generator of brilliant and unique ideas. However, many people with the INTP personality type may do away with the immediate hierarchy altogether, opting instead to provide their services on a freelance basis as consultants.

Also true… Which is probably why working for churches or in educational settings is not really my forte (despite my career history). Ensemble theatre work or a production team whose roles are defined but equally important seems much more akin to where an INTP will thrive. Freelance is great in theory but you have to market / sell yourself and that seems like a distraction to creating to me. 

If INTPs can smile and shake hands just long enough to establish themselves as the brilliant innovators that they are, people with the INTP personality type will find that whatever the expectations for social conduct, it is the qualities unique to them that are truly in demand.

Here’s hoping. 


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