The MBTI is Nothing Like Astrology
I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but I haven't had the right nudge until now. But today, someone gave me that nudge.
Every now and then, someone blathers about the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) being no better or worse than Astrology. The articles make for amusing punditry, but they miss an important point.
While Astrology claims to guess your personality and behaviors based on external forces (the position of the stars at the time and location of your birth), the MBTI is based on your actual stated preferences and personality traits. When you take the MBTI "inventory" (it's usually not referred to as a "test", because there are no "right or wrong" answers and no "scoring"), you are self-defining your type.
It's true that, when you finish, you're given a label. And many people balk at the idea of labels. But keep in mind that this is a label that you choose for yourself. It's not a label assigned to you by someone else. If you don't agree with the type the MBTI suggests, you are encouraged to read the other profiles and find the type that matches you best.
Think about that. It's as if Astrology said "Given your birthdate we guess you to be a Pisces, but feel free to look over the descriptions and decide that you're really a Leo."
Here are the comments I posted today to a recent MBTI-bashing essay, entitled Astrology For Businesses. You should probably read it (or at least read the first few paragraphs) before continuing here. Then come back...
I recently shared this image with friends on Facebook. The image comes via Beth Beulow's Team Introvert Pinterest board.
One friend commented, "Wouldn't 'Team Introvert' be an oxymoron?"
Readin', Ritin', and Rithmetic, by RoteYesterday in Twitter, @jemmons wrote
If answers to your test questions can be looked up by "cheaters" on their phones, maybe they don't need to learn them? BETTER QUESTIONS PLZ?
surprise - v.
- to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness
- to elicit or bring out suddenly and without warning: to surprise the facts from the witness.
- to lead or bring unawares, as into doing something not intended
I'm thinking about "surprise" today and what it means. Yesterday, at the Job, I announced a decision that I believed was mine to make and that I also understood to be an expected, eventual outcome of discussions and plans we all had in mid-January. In other words, none of this should be surprising. The only unknown was the date of the decision.
Leaving A MarkAs I was reading a discussion (April 2006) in the 43Folders (Productivity) forum, I came across a reference to a disturbing quote attributed to Jean Baudrillard:
The compact disc. It does not wear out, even when one uses it. That is terrible. As if one had never used it, as if one had never existed at all.
I'm interested in the study of Personality Types.
That's like phrenology, right?
How is this different from, say, horoscopes...positing peoples' personalities based on the sign of the zodiac under which they were born?
This is very different. With a horoscope (or phrenology :-), I would take one fact about you and try to extrapolate knowledge of your personality, ideal career, likes and dislikes, or your future, from that one fact.
With MBTI or Keirsey, you describe your own personality, based on many factors. You answer a series of questions, identifying your likes and dislikes, your interests, what sorts of activities energize you and what things leave you cold. You identify your personality type.
I recently switched to a new manager at The Job. By "new" I mean both new for me and new to the Company That Employs Me.
Our first meeting was not what I expected. My new manager's first words were:
"So, what's with this email?
The email you sent yesterday.
You seem very frustrated?
Things went downhill from there. She asked me to send her anything I was planning to send to a "large audience" first so she could preview it before I sent it. Over the next week, I kept getting battered with repetitions on the theme. The preview requests went from "email to a large audience" to "email to managers" to "long email" to pretty much any email to anyone.
I began to wonder what was really going on. Was she micromanaging? Or did someone put her up to this? And why?
Who Are You?
Names have power. Your name, handle, nickname, call sign, userid, email address, IM ID, identifies you. There's a reason we call it an ID.
A name you choose for yourself has even more oomph. My mother named me Vicki, but; I choose to call myself Vicki. I don't have a nickname. (When it comes to choosing an online identity, e.g. for a Second Life avatar, I'm stymied.)
My email ID is vlb. I've been using it for so long, and am so comfortable with it, that I chafe at companies that assign me something else. When I can, I request an alias. When I can't... well, I didn't work there for very long.
Who Moved My Cheese
Have you read Who Moved My Cheese, the popular motivational tale by Spencer Johnson? Our team director, where I work, suggested it.
It's a simple premise - different people react differently to change. Some immediately move on to look for the next thing. Others become paralyzed and have difficulty coping. Still others are "in the middle", waiting a while but then gathering themselves up to move on.
We need to stop thinking of email as some strange beast. Email is written communication - nothing more, nothing less. The primary difference between email and any other form of communication comes down to one thing: email doesn't require a human delivery agent. That's it. That's the difference.