As an INFJ, what change have you made that has benefited you most? It was early morning and this was literally the first thing I read. Serves me right having this habit of checking out notifications on my phone, as soon as I open my eyes. Questions early in the morning are not uncommon though. I have the Quora app installed and it notifies me every time there is something that I might find interesting. I have to say that this one is particularly interesting.
My short answer is, I used my INFJ attributes and leadership to change my life.
Now, the long answer.
I have to say that INFJs can really be sad little creatures. With our tendency to overthink, perfectionism, and empathy in a world that can be ruthless, we are very prone to stress and depression. If I let MBTI define me, I can dismiss everything as just an INFJ thing. That it’s normal and there is nothing to worry about. But obviously, there is something to worry about. A little too much of these can be unhealthy for anybody.
I was lucky to be exposed to management and leadership early in my career. I say lucky because I didn’t really plan it. Not at all. When I started my career in IT, my plan was just to develop whatever software that will be assigned to me, build expertise on certain technologies over time, and get paid more. I was very naive. But a little over a year into the job, I was appointed as the project’s lead and it changed everything.
To be able to perform well enough, I attended some leadership workshops, trained under three different managers from three different functions, and read a few books. There wasn’t really a good plan behind it. I just needed the skill for the job. But there are two things about INFJs and learning. One, INFJs a pretty good students. Two, since they are attuned to finding meaning, they like their learning applied else they get a little frustrated.
MBTI has an undeniable impact on most INFJs because most of them were misunderstood even by their own selves. Knowing their type is like finally finding their own crowd. This is exactly what I felt when I found out about it. Like what can be found in memes, I thought I could be suffering from some mental disorder because I was a little too “different”. Those four letters was a life-saver.
However, as a leader now, I cannot embrace labels that can be limiting. I should take control. I should define me. This led to a string of life-changing events and below is how I used my INFJ-ness to my advantage and turn things around.
I cannot change if I don’t know what to change and what my tools for change are. So I looked inwardly and identified my weaknesses/issues and strengths. It is important to recognise issues. You can ask a lazy person to attend countless productivity workshops but he will not change if he never saw himself as lazy. You have to accept that something has to change. Next, you can check if any of your strengths can be used to address the issues. I do not want to bring my profession so much into this, but this is really the first few steps of consulting.
INFJs are naturally good planners because of their foresight and their ability to make connections. They can come up with a good plan with several backup plans in a snap. It can be just in their heads or in an intimidatingly detailed spreadsheet somewhere.
I did the former and create high-level plans in my head from the outputs of my introspection. I stuck with a high-level plan because I am prone to overanalysis. I decided not to break down things to the tiniest detail and do that when the right time comes. I just need a plan for general guidance.
The dreaded door slam. Who would have thought this can be turned into a strength that is applicable daily, right? No, I didn’t door slam everybody; I don’t have the heart to do that. I inspected how it works though and realised it’s basically an ability to completely ignore things.
I have a hyperactive brain and not everything it processes always ends up useful. I don’t want to stress my brain for something not beneficial. What I do now is use my judgement the moment something comes in and door slam it if there’s really no benefit. Gossip? Door slam. Triggering rants on social media that does nothing more than trigger people? Door slam. Complaints directed to the wrong person? I give an advice if needed then door slam. It’s like that.
It takes practice and fine tuning but it saved me from a lot of stress. I am out of Facebook for more than a year now. No withdrawal syndrome of any form, just hundreds of MBs of extra space in my phone and lots of free time.
If you got here, then you probably think that I have turned myself into a machine executing some sort of algorithm. I cannot blame you. But empathy keeps me human and allows me to improve my plan based on how it impacts people around me especially those I care for. After all, I cannot be a good leader at work if I cannot understand people. Also INFJs like knowing what makes someone tick. It’s borderline creepy.
So do I finally have everything figured out? Am I on top of the world without any sign of going back down? No. Life as we all know never runs out of surprises. If anything, this helped me deal with life better and is something I think others can learn from. -mB
Featured image by Noah Buscher on Unsplash