Be Unapologetically Who You Are
Jessica Butts, business and relationship coach, retired psychotherapist, and author of Live your Life from the Front Seat, gave an outstanding presentation at our National Association of Professional Organizers meeting last night. Her mantra is “Be Unapologetically Who You Are” and spoke about the Meyers Briggs type test. Jessica illustrated how knowing your MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Indicator) type can help you with your business and relationships. She says we are born into this world with an innate personality type that cannot change. Although life circumstances may affect your personality, they do not change who you really are.
Not everyone is going to like you. The best thing you can do for yourself is to realize that. If you’re not doing things in your own way, you’re doing yourself a disservice. While sometimes we are called to compensate for our type, it is important to honor what our true needs and preferences are. Try this exercise. Get out a pen and paper. Write your name with your dominant hand. This is what it feels like to be honoring your true type. What does it feel like? Some of the words I came up with are connected, right and easy. Now write your name with your non-dominant hand. This is what it’s like to be acting from a place of compensation, a place of being forced to act differently that who you really are. What does this feel like? I thought it felt awkward, wrong and off balance.
I want to be clear in saying that there is a time and place to push through your comfort zone, to do things that feel awkward and uncomfortable. The important thing to consider is HOW OFTEN you spend in this place of unease. Think about how much you can accomplish when you stay in your zone of genius versus hanging out in a state where you feel like you’re pushing yourself to be someone else. The key is to be conscious about which state you’re operating from, and to choose how much time you want to spend compassionately honoring your true preferences.
During her talk, and in Jessica’s book, Live Your Life from the Front Seat, she does an excellent job of explaining the different types. I will do a brief summary, but if you’d like to understand more of who you are innately, take Jessica’s quiz here and read her book.
When you consider which letter you identify more with, think about it on a spectrum from 1-30. 1 is closer to the center and 30 denotes an extreme preference. It is also important to read the full descriptions of the types. Don’t base your decision on the label.
Introversion (I) and Extroversion (E): How you generate energy and process information
Extroverts are energized by their outer world, are external processors (they think aloud) and are outgoing.
Introverts are energized by their inner world, recharge by being alone and are reflective.
Sensing (S) and Intuition (N): How we take information in
Sensors use their 5 senses to gather information, are factual and reality based. (It is important to also note that being a “sensor” does not mean you don’t have intuition.)
Intuitives use their 6th sense to gather information, they rely on hunches and prefer the big picture
Thinking (T) and Feeling (F): How we make decisions
Thinkers make decisions with their heads, like to analyze and are logical
Feelers make decisions with their hearts, feelings and subjective circumstances.
(Jessica has noticed that “thinkers” and “feelers” compliment each other nicely in relationships).
Judging (J) and Perceiving (P): How you like your world organized
Judgers (J) like things organized, to be on time and to know the plan
Perceivers (P) are flexible, spontaneous and go with the flow
(Jessica notes that “judgers” and “perceivers” may have difficulty in relationship).
As Jessica spoke about the different types, I realized how much pressure I had been feeling to be a different type. In Susan Cain’s book Quiet, (which I highly recommend) she has popularized studies on introverts. We clearly live in a world where being an extrovert is a highly praised personality attribute. But what I hadn’t realized was how scores on the other 3 categories have also been labeled as “right” or “wrong” within different groups in society. It took me a long time to separate out what my true “preference” was, versus determining how much I had been indoctrinated by who I “should” be. When reading through the descriptions in her book or on her site, think about how often you feel wrong for not making decisions a certain way, or for liking your world to be organized a certain way. Or conversely, think about how often you feel others are wrong for doing things differently than you do them.
Towards the end of the book, Jessica talks about the importance of spending time with like-minded people. To be able to identify these people, spend some time really getting to know yourself and your preferences. She says “it’s really hard to overcome your past, or to move forward into your goal and future, when you are surrounded with the same people who caused or contributed to your problems now. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people so that you have the support you need to be who you are.”
To learn more about Jessica, contact her here. Drop your MBTI type in the comments below.