Ducks Out of Water

Friday, May 04, 2012 6 Comments A+ a-


Woo hoo! It's Friday, and I have the rare opportunity to slip away and work in the library. This is one of my favorite places to be. I enjoy a cool, quiet atmosphere where coffee is available. Today's is flavored - some sort of nutty, cinnamon brew that stimulates my senses and makes me glad it's a bottomless cup :-)

Okay, time to get to work.

In perusing the internet, I stumbled across a great article by Dr. A.J. Drenth. Though I'd never read his work before, the article he wrote was startling. I felt like he'd taken a look inside my head and put what he saw into words. Yikes!

The first few paragraphs alone give us quite a bit of information:


INFJs are among the rarest of the sixteen personality types, constituting only 1-3% of the general population. Unlike INTJs, in which males predominate, there is greater gender parity among INFJs, with nearly equal numbers of males and females.
It is difficult to broadly classify INFJs as either right-brained or left-brained since they utilize both sides of the brain with equal adeptness. INFJs are both creative and responsible, artistic and logical, spiritual and scientific, intuitive and analytic.

So, only 1-3% of us possess the INFJ personality type. We are definitely rare specimens. Is it any wonder we feel like ducks out of water? And just how do we compare with the rest of the population, anyway? To show you how it breaks down, I copied a chart (fuzzy though it may be) from The Myers-Briggs Foundation website:




Yep, it appears there aren't many of us wandering around the planet. Only slighter larger is the ENTJ group. Maybe they feel like ducks, too. Being extroverted, though, they probably get more quacking in.

Dr. Drenth goes on to say that INFJs are nearly gender-equal, while our cousins the INTJs are predominantly male. I found this interesting. The difference here seems to lie in how we make our decisions. INTJs are thinking ('T') things through, while we INFJs rely more heavily on our feelings ('F') to make decisions. At first glance, this statistic seems to imply that men are "thinkers" while women are "feelers." But I disagree - otherwise, INFJs would be predominantly female. And I frequently use logic to make decisions. The problem is, I can think things through until the cows come home, but if a decision doesn't "feel" right, I'll be unhappy with it. This feeling-trumps-logic aspect has more to do with intuition than being female, which could explain the gender balance within our group.

Now the left-brain/right-brain statement gave me one of those Aha! moments. While I was reading Marti Olsen Laney's book The Introvert Advantage, I came across her chart for determining which side of the brain is dominant. Try as I might, I couldn't pick one over the other. So I searched the internet and tried taking online left-vs-right brain tests. Wouldn't you know it - half the tests indicated I was left-brained, and half indicated I was right.  Grrrrr!

I finally decided that my skill set is right-brained (creative writing, music, emotions), but my approach is left-brained (logic, structure, analysis). It explained why I went into programming, but was never satisfied with it. Though I liked the quiet, logical structure of an IT job position, I wasn't utilizing the skills I was born with, and my job left me feeling rather empty.

But apparently Dr. Drenth knew about my equally adept brain before I did. What a relief to discover that I'm not an indecisive freak after all! It's in my nature to work out of both sides of my brain, each side complimenting the other in a beautiful, balanced relationship. Of course, the logical left side has a tendency to strangle my passionate right side. This keeps me from going off the deep end, but it can also prevent me from flying as high as I'd like. Hmm.

Better go for now. Next up in Dr. Drenth's article, he talks about how "different" an INFJ can feel while growing up. Can't wait to dive into that one!

Until then,
M.


6 comments

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Jon
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May 4, 2012 at 8:43 PM delete

Us N's are living in an S's world. :)

In the table, it's interesting that while the INFJ's are the least represented, the ISFJ's are the most represented. Since the difference is N vs S, and S's are more common than N's, I thought maybe that's the difference. But the ESFP's and ENFP's also only differ by S vs N, and they have the same % representation. Hmmm.

(Am I getting too nerdy with this?)

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Meridian
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May 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM delete

Hi, Jon - you're right, from looking at the table, the S's are definitely more prevalent, regardless of the other functions. I also noticed that the greatest population disparity between the S and N types seems to involve those that end in 'J'. Check out the table again. When a type ends in 'J', the gap between the S's and N's seems wider, whether it's introvert or extrovert. I'm wondering if there's some sort of struggle between sensing and judgment that comes into play here. It almost seems more common to have the S/P combination than the N/J.

That is unusual about the ESFP and ENFP percentages. I'm betting it's the extrovert factor that keeps them close. Also, I have no clue how old this table is. The percentages may have changed over time. The table indicates that the population is about half introvert, half extrovert - whereas Marti's book says introverts make up about 1/4 of the population. So we may be working off older data here. I'll have to nose around and see if I can come up with more recent stats.

Hey, you can't be too nerdy when it comes to analyzing this stuff! I wouldn't have noticed the J disparity if your comment hadn't made me take a closer look. Besides, my husband is nerdy - seriously, he thinks in rows and columns - and I enjoy how he digs down into the details and gives me a different perspective. So you just nerd it up as much as you'd like :-)

M.

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Jon
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May 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM delete

You're right about the J/S connection.

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Jared
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September 27, 2012 at 5:57 PM delete

I too am an INFJ and a Computer Programmer as well. I came here because I was frustrated that I couldn't discern whether I was left-brained or right-brained. Your post helped me a lot and I really appreciate your transparency. It's a tremendous encouragement to know what I feel and think is at least understood by someone out there. Like you, I am discontent with the IT world and so I would love to become a counselor for the broken-hearted! I'm glad I found your blog; the prospect of encountering some empathy and feelings of warmth will have me coming back time and time again.

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Meridian
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September 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM delete

Hey, Jared - glad you found some encouragement in the Cafe ;-)

Working out of both sides of our brains can be really confusing. Until we become aware of our dual approach, we can drive ourselves crazy trying to find the right career, partner, etc. I don't know if any of the other MBTI types are equally balanced as we are, but I have a feeling this is what gives us our superpowers and our ability to build systems and view them from multiple perspectives.

So, now that you know how you work - a choice lies before you. Stay where it's comfortable, or seek out your destiny. I was forced out of the IT world and put on a path that led me here. Now I have my foot in the block and my eye on the prize (lol!). It feels good to know your strengths and pursue them. I will pray that you find your true path and can pick up that sword. The male INFJ is rare and special - you're a superhero, so use that to your advantage, k?

Thanks for your comment, and hope to continue to see you out here!

Blessings,
M.

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jonathanrenck
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January 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM delete

I definitely had to laugh when I thought about the right/left brain dominance thing. For some time I've noticed that I have a tendency for doing things that are creative/intuitive in a very logical left brain fashion. That's happened for some time because in high school I drove my math teachers crazy. I would intuit answers more than think through to them. I think I also picked up on the disparity between my reluctance for details and my creative side. I went to college initially for Graphic Design, but by sophomore year I had realized I really don't have the skill set that would allow my perfectionist side to be satisfied with my output with that particular profession. So I shifted from Graphic Design to Fine Art and was able to nurture both sides in a less stressful, rather more satisfying way. But I know I got lucky on that one by having parents who encouraged lots of self-discovery as I grew up.

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