Tag Archives: ISTJ

Some Things I Learnt in 2013

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I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. But I’ve done lots of thinking and metacognitive analysis as usual, so I’ve got a bunch of things I’ve learnt throughout last year about how I work.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the things I’ve learnt:

  • As the duty fulfiller (MBTI) I love working hard but when I’m given so much work that I can’t keep up with, I get overwhelmed and start to let things slip because it’s all to much and I know I can’t do the job to the standard I want to. I’m a 100% or 0% type person. If I can’t put 100% into something, I don’t want to do it. I feel guilty if I can’t do the job the best I can, but I also feel guilty if I let things slip. My nature, then, is to simply keep going. When I hit this roadblock last year and was letting things slip, I resolved to just keep at it. I shared what I learnt with a friend and she had a “Whoa” moment from it because she realized she was the same. And now she’s made steps to “do something” instead of doing nothing at all. Because sometimes it’s better to do something than never do anything.
  • Again, as the duty fulfiller I love putting my all into my work. And when I can’t put my all into my work, I get very frustrated and feel burdened. My friend who puts her all into caring for people gets very frustrated and burdened when she can’t love people the way she wants to. We feel the exact same way about different things. I love how we’re all so different! We both have to learn not to place such high expectations on ourselves to ALWAYS be and do everything we want to be and do in the particular areas we care most about. Otherwise we’d be miserable whenever we couldn’t live up to our standards.
  • I learnt that I really am an advocate as the type 1 (Enneagram). I never really saw it in me but I finally worked out that it fits. I feel lost if I don’t have any meaning, and a big part of where I get meaning from is having a focus outside of myself. This means not just doing things I enjoy all the time but doing things that also give something back to people around me. The key for me is to find things that are both for me and others and also to find things that I believe in. This has helped a lot in giving me direction in life.
  • Knowing about my advocate nature, this has helped me realize that I need a filter for life. A filter that tells me what I should say yes and no to. A filter that tells me what I should spend my time, money and energy on. This way, goals can be met quicker, waste is avoided and there is a clearer meaning and purpose in life, both in the bigger picture and in the everyday.

So, this is only a snippet of the things I’ve learnt but I’ll write about the other things in other posts. And, of course, I’ll always be learning more! It’s a lot of fun!

The Significance of Needs

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I was introduced early to the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and have been fascinated by it ever since. This fits my ISTJ love of
English: Diagram showing the hierarchy of need...

English: Diagram showing the hierarchy of needs based on Abraham Maslow’s theories in the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

categories, definitions and boundaries. It’s akin to my appreciation for personality tests as the categories are helpful to explain and understand observable features of people and life.

The hierarchy is based on the fact that humans have needs, and the most fundamental of these needs is represented by the first level of the hierarchy often displayed as a pyramid. There are various models of the hierarchy.

The four basic needs represented by the pyramid are:

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety
  • Love and belonging
  • (Some models add esteem needs here)
  • Self-actualization

Only when the lower levels are met can you concern yourself with the higher levels. For example, no matter how much you may want to contemplate your identity or the meaning of life, you may not be able to pursue this (let alone ask this) if you spend most of your time hungry and  all your energy is devoted to finding food. Only when you’ve met one type of need will you be able to move on to meet the higher level need.

Thus it has been theorized that people in the West are able to dedicate resources for building universities and libraries and live a life of learning because we tend to be well fed and clothed. Our worries won’t be about not having enough to eat so we are free to worry about things like what we look like and what job we should get.

On the other hand, people living in poverty don’t have this chance to ‘find out who they are’ or search for meaning in life because they’re too busy just trying to survive.

Perhaps part of social justice is allowing all people to not only have access to clean water and nutritious food but to be able to contemplate life and the more philosophical questions.

Or perhaps, this is just a horribly ethnocentric view. Perhaps people fighting for survival also think about the big questions of life and perhaps they have better answers than those in the West. Perhaps being able to read books and ask questions all day isn’t an ideal all people should be striving for.

Either way, I know I value thinking about the big questions and being able to do so without fear of where my next meal will come from. I enjoy it and part of me feels I need to pursue it too.

The hierarchy also suggests that if these four needs aren’t met in a person, they will (if not physically suffer) mentally suffer in terms of experiencing anxiety and frustration. I know I feel this mental tension and it’s part of the drive for The Cognitive Life and all my writing, and reading and learning.

While there are criticisms of the hierarchy, I see some validity in the theory and can take what is helpful and useful while being aware of its limitations.

There are other versions of the hierarchy of needs and this is one I found relevant.

While all stages are part of me, I think I must currently predominantly be at the ‘need to know and understand’ stage while aiming for those higher levels at the pinnacle of the pyramid and continuing to assess the lower levels.

Where are you?

I May be a Freak, but I’m Not the Only One

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When I discovered the Personality Café, I discovered I wasn’t alone.

I’m not one for joining online communities, but I joined Personality Café because I was so surprised and excited to find other ISTJ’s on there; people like me. I don’t know many people like me in my own network; I might share some characteristics with others, and it’s a bit of a thrill, but here online, I found people who were like the same person as me. I couldn’t believe I’d found people who actually liked and didn’t like the same things as me. I found people who reasoned and behaved the same way I did. It was amazing.

When I found out my personality type, I didn’t feel so weird, but when I found these ISTJ’s online, I felt even less weird.

I knew I’d found my kin when I read the first reply to a post about things you would rant about: “Loud people. Loud music. Loud cars with unnecessary modifications to the exhaust system.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I know exactly what you mean. When I added to the conversation by posting that I didn’t like microphones, vacuum cleaners or power tools, my fellow ISTJ’s were very enthusiastic in their agreement. Wow. I felt understood.

There were people who turned their mobiles off like me because we don’t like phones. There were people who made lists, turned up early, thought too much, planned everything, loved tradition and facts – like me. We are no fuss types, just get on with it people who forget to eat, sleep and socialize when we have something to do. We love rules, details and painstaking, meticulous work. We love working hard. We are the duty fulfillers!

Before, if I told you my personality type, I would have said it half apologetically, but with these fellow ISTJ’s,  I was proud to be one of them, and they were glad to have me. I’d write posts, and they’d reply saying that when they read them, they thought they were reading about themselves.

I spent a lot of my time in the ISTJ forum because I felt at home there, and even now when I feel like I’m the only ISTJ in the world, I can go back to that forum and remember there are others like me and we’re all okay; we don’t have to change into a different personality type to fit in.

Not only do I appreciate the ISTJ community, I appreciate the shared interest in wanting to know how people work. We want to understand the way people think and behave and like to think about the differences and similarities between people. They don’t just focus on MBTI but other personality tests, and they are interested in other topics such as philosophy, science and religion. It’s always great to find people who have the same interests as you, and it’s a good resource to learn more about personality.

Check out www.personalitycafe.com

A Question of Altruism

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My latest question has come from reading the book Freakonomics. It’s all about how people respond to incentives and can be made to do just about anything given the right incentive. It’s based on the idea that people will try to get things they want with the lowest cost. There’s a chapter on altruism and much of the book deals with the fact that people do things for their own benefit. Acts like giving money to charity are seen not to be 100% selfless, because things like the warm glow and how others see you play a part.

Dictator

I liked the experiments of the Dictator where one person is given an amount of money and has the option of giving another person some, all or none of that money. If people were only about self-interest they would keep all of it, but most people gave about 25% of their money. Not necessarily out of interest for the other person, but so they will look good in front of the examiner or to have that warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

In a variation of this experiment, both people were given the same amount of money but only one person could choose if they would give some of their money away or take some of the money from the other person. In this case people often took money from the other person, so there goes any selflessness.

But when both people had to work (by doing some task) for the same amount of money and one person had the option to give or take the money, it was more likely that not as much was taken as in the previously mentioned experiment. This suggests we value it when people earn their money. 

Selfless or self-interested?

A real life example of when self-interest seems to rule over selflessness is when people don’t intervene when they witness abuse. There have been TV shows that show people walk right past a person being beaten up (staged by actors) or just stand round and watch instead of either physically intervening, saying something or calling the police.

Of course there are heaps of examples of people acting out of self-interest: cheating, stealing, murder, etc. And there are good acts that appear selfless, but I wonder how much of it is actually out of self-interest. Social pressure plays a big role in getting people to do the right thing as people try to avoid being looked down on. The advertising for giving money to charity often mentions the fact that anything over $2 is tax deductible, which provides an added incentive to give besides the warm glow of giving. A person can do a good act simply because they feel good when they live up to their own morals and can feel high and mighty about themselves. In this way selflessness leads to pride, which is definitely in the interests of self.

I wonder if it is possible when no-one is looking for people to take the selfless option. If there was a guarantee that no-one would ever find out that you stole a million dollars that was sitting on a table, would you resist? There would be no social pressure coming into the decision making, there would be no-one in the way of you taking it and no punishment. Who could resist? In a way you’d be stupid not to do it. Given those circumstances I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t take it and I’m the ISTJ duty fulfiller and reformer so my moral standards tend to be as high as they come.

That’s why I’m not sure if people truly are altruistic. But with more thought I do think it is possible not to take it. But I’m not sure it would be for selfless reasons. If I wasn’t to take it, it would be because of my morals, because I believe it is wrong to take it. Regardless of anyone else I still have to live with me and I want to live up to my morals so that means I can’t take it. But this is all self-interest reasoning; it’s all for me and what I want and for my peace of mind. So I wonder if that’s the best we can hope for: altruism in the sense that people do the right thing because they want to do the right thing and therefore do what they want, i.e. altruism with self-interest but self-interest that benefits others. 

Law of incentives

I wonder if there is anything that could go against everything someone wants and yet they still do it for the sake of others. If you believe in the law of incentives: no, because at some point no matter how small, you do things because you want to. Even if you don’t want to do it, you see a good reason to and that makes you do it or else you wouldn’t do it. 

I have no conclusion. These are just my rambling thoughts on something I’ve been questioning. Intriguing!