Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Inspirer

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” Carl Jung

We have all been told “you should never judge another man until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Of course, I understand the meaning of this expression, what I don’t understand is how I know the difference between my own metaphorical shoes and another beings. The way I perceive a situation and another person perceives that same situation can be as different from night and day. I know my personality is as unique as my DNA, but could I ever fully explain my personality to another human being? No. I look at an individual’s personality as I would an onion. An onion has hundreds of paper-thin layers that must be peeled away before you get to the core. Some layers you miss, others disintegrate, yet others are hidden from sight. I’ve known people for years, yet they can still surprise me with a different side of their persona every once in awhile. It is hard to believe that personality can be broadly broken down into sixteen different types, yet it has been, by a “psychometric questionnaire” called the Myer Brigg Type Indicator. I guess my layers were systematically peeled away by 93 questions, because I am officially an ENFP.

It’s hard to believe that only four words describe the “essence of me” (I guess I am a small onion). Seriously though, the results I got from my assessment I mostly agree with. With only 6% of the American population being ENFPs, I have been given the official label as an “Inspirer”.

“Man is a gregarious animal, and much more so in his mind than in his body. He may like to go alone for a walk, but he hates to stand alone in his opinions.”
George Santayana

Where I focus my attention: E is for Extroversion.

How I take in information: N is for Intuition.

How I make decisions: F is for Feeling.

How I deal with the outer world: P is for Perceiving.

Here is the basic breakdown of my profile: I am a creative, curious, imaginative person who is energetic, enthusiastic and spontaneous with a keen perception of people and my surrounding world. I am appreciative of affirmations from others and am readily willing to reciprocate my appreciation because I value harmony and goodwill. I base my decision making on personal values and empathy. Others tend to see me as personable, perceptive, persuasive and versatile. (Was that enough adjectives for you?)

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.” Alan Alda

So, what in the world does this mean in terms of my career goals?

My career goals centers on work with a non-profit organization within the realm of children’s education/outreach or women’s rights. I want to work with a cause that has the possibility of travel, especially outside the United States. Within the non-profit industry I am interested in pursuing a project management position within a time range of five years. Currently I am searching for a marketing position with a non-profit. If I pursue the agency side, an agency that focuses on non-profits would be essential. With this defined career goal, the following is directly from the Myer Briggs Type Indicator career section on ENFP types,

“ENFPs make excellent salespeople, advertising people, politicians, screen or play writers, and in general are attracted to the interpretative arts, particularly character acting. People to people work is essential for ENFP’s, who need the feedback of interaction with others.”

ENFP are the “people’s people,” and I am the perfect example of this. I feed off of other people’s energies at work, and crave interaction with coworkers. In talking to Alicia Aroche, counselor from the VCU Career Center, I also gained that ENFP’s are matched well with careers that have a social cause attached. The type breakdown that Aroche gave me during our meeting says,

“Many ENFPs find work that has a positive impact on others to be intrinsically satisfying…Their focus is on possibilities, especially for others, and they have an infectious and energizing style that motivates their clients to try and make positive changes in their lives.”

I feel that my personal career goals fit very well with my personality type. The following list of job titles were directly recommended for ENFPs. Each one has the possibility to fit with my career goals and many coincide with my advertising major: public relations specialist, advertising account executive, development director, child welfare counselor, ombudsperson, philanthropic consultant, marketing consultant, creative director on a multimedia team, social worker. After researching my type, I have the assurance that my career goals match with my personality. Though I knew this before, the assessment has given me more confidence that I’m heading towards a rewarding career path. I now know that when I choose my career goals, it didn’t come from left field, but something I intuitively thought I would enjoy and excel at.

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth.”
Benjamin Disraeli

Each Myer Briggs type has distinct strengths, weaknesses and an ideal working environment. While many people enjoy organized work environments with strict schedules, ENFPs are best suited working in less rigid atmospheres to coincide with their free spirit attitude. Interaction with people, be it coworkers or clients, is also extremely important, and ENFPs create their best work within teams. Strengths of ENFPs listed by the Myer Briggs Type Indicator are creative problem solving, teamwork, and understanding people, motivating others towards their own original ideas, being flexible and accommodating. ENFPs are most energized by new ideas and possibilities, and while we tend to procrastinate, working under pressure, for short periods, is motivating. Here is a brief description of an ENFP's career strengths,

“ENFP’s have a remarkable latitude in career choices and succeed in many fields. As workers, they are warmly enthusiastic, high-spirited, ingenious, imaginative, and can do almost anything that interests them. They can solve most problems, particularly those dealing with people. They are charming and at ease with colleagues; others enjoy their presence. ENFP’s are outstanding in getting people together… They enjoy inventing new ways of doing things, and their projects tend to become a cause, quickly becoming personalized.”

I can see myself in all the strengths listed for ENFPs. Because I feed off of other peoples presence, teamwork has always been my best working situation. I also work my best in my own organized chaos, and though my work and surroundings might not look organized to an outsider, my method for organization best suits my personality. I also do not work well with schedules and to-do lists. Though I have a normal schedule, and often make lists of tasks I have to complete, I need to know that I have options and the freedom to make changes throughout my normal day. This helps explain the flexibility and being accommodating in my personality type; having a loose schedule allows me to work other tasks and people into my day when problems arise or activities come up. Working for a non-profit organization would fulfill my need for possibilities in different tasks, projects and exciting ways to reach people. Though the non-profit industry is often regimented in their ways to reach the public, the industry is currently undergoing the same changes other business are; the ever expanding and evolving communication realm. Non-profits are realizing that the internet and other new media are valuable and effective ways for marketing causes. For-profit business sponsorship and partnerships (think the “green” movement) also give me a possibility to come up with exciting new ideas to work with for-profits for non-profit causes.

Unfortunately, with strength comes weakness. Though I would like to say ENFPs are perfect, pitfalls are inevitable. ENFPs are easily distracted, and are always looking for something more interesting to work on. Organizations that strictly regulate employees might find it hard to constrain ENFPs who “who need quite a bit of latitude in which to exercise their adaptive ingenuity.” ENFPs also tend to not be totally prepared ahead of time, and do not accomplish the best work flying solo. ENFPs often leave work incomplete when a better project prospect comes along, while work that requires “routine maintenance” or extreme attention to detail tends to be a problem for ENFPs. The Personality Page, a website devoted to explaining Myer Briggs personality types, talks about work situations ENFPs should keep away from. “They should avoid jobs which require performing a lot of detailed, routine-oriented tasks. They will not be happy in positions which are confining and regimented.”

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.” Bob Conklin

The Myer Briggs Type Indicator of ENFPs talks about nothing happening in an ENFP’s life that does not mean something or have significance to them. This is a very special trait of the ENFP, along with his or her ability to communicate nonverbally. I think that these two traits of an ENFP explains a tremendous part of my reasoning for my actions, and will effect me in my personal, social, and business life. To me I do not look at the different aspects of my life as separate entities, though some people do. I combine work, personal and social relationships together. I am not a different person at work then when I am at home. I want a career that I want to be with me all the time; not just a job that constructs my life eight hours a day, five days a week. I am appreciative of the information I gained about myself through the Myer Briggs assessment because I think that my career goals, my preferences and personality are all starting to align well together. I know I am a capable person, but aligning my capability and natural affinity together allows me to have an even greater potential for success.

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