Information In, Meaning Ascribed

How do you receive, perceive and process information?

If you're following along, I'm working on a series of posts where I explore commonalities and themes in the various personality and strengths tests I've taken over the years. In this installment, I return to the MBTI. Eventually, I'll connect all the dots in a summary, wholistic post.

Earlier this semester I scheduled a campus career services center session for students in a freshman-level course I'm teaching. The office offers free Myers-Briggs assessment for students so I had them complete the test to provide some foundational self-knowledge for college and also to give them some fodder for an autobiographical essay that had to write. Out of curiosity, I re-took the MBTI along with the students

On this occasion (September 2014), I scored as an INTP in the MBTI. Specifically,

I: 53% introverted

N: 60% intuitive

T: 53% Thinker

P: 93% Perceiver

In November 1996, I scored as an INFP on the MBTI. The scale used in that report was presented differently, as a slider without numerical specifics. That report showed me slightly on the introvert side of the slider and slightly on the Feeling category vs. Thinking side of the scale.

Intuition or Sensing?

According to The Myers & Briggs Foundation, most people use both sensing and intuition to receive and process information.

As my MBTI results show, I'm slightly on the N side of the spectrum, although not by much. It's easy to see how I could fall within both types, while maintaining a slight preference for Intuition. I've never scored in the S territory on the MBTI.

Curious to learn more about the distinctions between N and S, I went searching for information.

Based on some of the preference statements found on the M&B Foundation page:

I share these preferences in common with the Sensing type:

  • I tend to remember events very vividly, as if I were looking at a photo or watching a moving.
  • I am highly factual and use facts to help me understanding problems and develop alternatives.
  • I have a streak of pragmatism, that sometimes works to my detriment.

On the other hand, I have a lot in common with Intuition:

  • Although I remember events quite visually, I'm interpretive and discerning in ascribing meaning.
  • I do not solve problems linearly. Although I use facts as a framework, I'm much more of a non-linear information processor.
  • I'm definitely focused on the big picture. I always need to understand the big picture before diving into the facts.
  • I have an innate need to do things new and different.
  • I value metaphors and impressions and find great value in these when interpreting information.
  • One of my flaws is the tendency to keep coming up with great ideas, rather than stopping to execute and complete projects before moving on.

 MyPath Report

The MyPath Personality Test Report that came with the MBTI I took back in September with my students used these phrases to describe the Intuitive: Inventive, creative, imaginative, insightful and perceptive.

An Intuitive is someone who “prefers the big picture” (MyPath Report).

Yes, absolutely.

“The sensor sometimes has difficulty seeing the forest for the trees, but the intuitive is adept at seeing the situation as a whole.”

MyPath Personality Test Result

I’ve often described myself as someone who connects ideas.

The MyPath report describes the intuitive in a similar way:

“Intuitives have a keen ability to formulate relationships amongst disparate ideas. They can visualize patterns and conceptualize theories and possibilities.”

I took the MBTI previously, in 1996, and the report from that assessment can be summarized thusly:

I like to “do things with an innovative bent”

I like “solving new, complex problems”

I often “prefer change, sometimes radical, to continuation of what is”

I tend to “proceed in bursts of energy”

I “enjoy learning a new skill” and probably enjoying “learning…more than using it”

“Intuitives are at their best when they are in the position to use their imagination and creativity.”

MyPath Report.

More Characteristics of the Intuitive

According to U-Journey online career planning service website (the webpage said the service was closing in June 2014, but the site is still online), characteristics of the Intuitive include (links are to blog posts I've written about this in relation to my own life):

These are characteristics that keep cropping up in my own self-reflection and in the results of my Strengths Finder tests.

The Intuitive is about seeing relationships and connecting-the-dots.

First, I Sense

When it comes time to make a decision, resolve a problem, or come up with a new idea or solution, my process starts by assessing what I know and what I need to know. Sometimes, I'll make a list. Sometimes, I'll just think about it. If it's a major issue or decision, I'll usually begin to journal about it.

At some point, I'll start to research and gather information, as necessary. I tend to research big issues a lot. That seems to be fairly aligned with sensing.

But the actual analysis and information processing stage I switch to the Intuition framework.

Then, I Intuit

Before I make a decision, I like to fill my mind with the facts and then go to sleep, go for a walk or run, or do something entirely unrelated (like cooking or gardening) and literally tell my brain to process the information and give me an answer.

Things I Don't Do When Making Decisions

I hate making lists of pros and cons or following some decision-making schematic that dictates an outcome based on probabilities or weighted variables. That approach may be fine for investment banking, where you need to take away the emotional aspects of decision-making. But it has not worked well for me when making choices about whether to take job a or job b.

I especially dislike basing a decision on past performance or quantitative data derived from a formula or model based on the past. I don't ignore historical information, but I have an optimistic and visionary belief system that influences my choices. And, for lack of a better way to say it right now, black swans exist and so do outcomes that we can't predict.

Has My System Worked?

Overall, I'd say I've been pleased with most of my decisions. Not all. We all choose wrongly sometime, or at least make choices that aren't in our best interests.

The only times I've had any passing regrets over choices have been when I really made choices where I affirmatively and knowingly ignored a gut-feeling or instinct and took action based on a more quantitative analysis relying on facts as presented to me, rather than my wholistic interpretation of the situation.

I found this explanatory video on YouTube. In the second half of the short video, the speaker offers a simple visual exercise to help you identify whether you're an S or N.

After doing this exercise, it was quite clear that I'm an Intuitive. And the more detailed explanation in the second video confirms it.


The Enterprising Artistic Adventurer

Somehow I managed to hold onto an old computer printout of the results from a college orientation vocational interests assessment, the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory.

I ran across it recently in a folder where I'd stored all my old test scores, transcripts and similar documentation as I embarked on this exercise to compare the results of a plethora of assessments measuring my strengths, interests and advantages. I hadn't looked at this printout in decades. I really can't believe I still have it. [Actually, I'm not surprised—I'm one of those “Know Thyself” types.]

The paper is yellowed and faded now, but the “themes” where I scored the highest back in 1980 are similar to the adjectives that I've been assigned in more recent assessments.

On the surface, I could easily see consistencies between my Strengths Finder 2.0 scores, Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage profile and the results from this old SCII measurement taken when I was 17 years old and about start college.

The apparent similarities sent me off to learn more about the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory and precisely how the themes are defined and described.

My Strong Interest Inventory Results

Circa 1980. The test was known in those days as the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory or SCII.

General Occupational Themes

The SCII classifies responses into six General Occupational Themes. These themes are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.

The General Occupational Themes where I scored the highest were:

Enterprising (58, high score)

Artistic (61, moderately high score)

Since the printout had no definitional key to explain what these themes meant, I went looking online and found this helpful guide that explains the General Occupational Themes in the SCII.


“The extreme types have a great facility with words, which they put to effective use in selling, dominating, and leading; frequently they are in sales. They see themselves as energetic, enthusiastic, adventurous, self-confident, and dominant. They like social tasks where they can take control. They don’t like prolonged mental effort in solving problems. The[y] like power, status, and material wealth, and working in expensive places. Some typical jobs include business executive, buyer, hotel manager, industrial relations consultant, political campaigner, realtor, and television producer.” [Emphasis mine.]


“These people like to work in artistic settings where there are many opportunities for self-expression. They have little interest in problems that are highly structured or that require gross physical effort. They describe themselves as independent, original, unconventional, expressive and tense. The like jobs such as artist, author, cartoonist, composer, singer, dramatic coach, etc.” [Emphasis mine.]

SII Hexagon Enterprising Focus


What’s most interesting is to consider what it means that the Enterprising and Artistic themes are on opposite sides of the hexagon. According to the UCF site

“….most people are more than one type, but it’s rare to have people similar to opposite points.”

Once again, I'm outside the box. Not easily pigeonholed.

Basic Interest Scale

The SCII Basic Interest Scale is used to cluster various interests into the six General Occupational Themes.

My highest match on the Basic Interest Scale was in Adventure, which falls within the Realistic theme.

This is interesting because I only had an average score for the Realistic theme, which is mostly aligned with people who work outdoors in construction or military. But the Realistic theme description also encompasses activities associated with nature and general physical strength.

Taking into account my interest then (and now) for nature, running, and simply being outdoors, it's no surprise that my responses yielded a high interest in Adventure.

The Enterprising Theme includes several interests where I scored highly: public speaking, law and politics. I was definitely attuned to all three of those in 1980. Of course, I became a lawyer and I’ve always loved public speaking.

As might be expected I scored high match with an interest in writing in the Artistic theme cluster. More interesting is how well I matched up with music/dramatics/art in terms of the basic interest scales. Same value as for Adventure. I was active in band in high school and interested in theatre and drama (even though I never was in drama classes–no time due to other courses I had to take).

Strong-Cambell Interest Inventory results from 1980

Occupational Scales

In terms of specific occupational similarities, my SCII responses in 1980 correlated very highly with females working as advertising executives, lawyers, life insurance agents, and accountants.

I also had high similarities with various types of teachers, flight attendants and army officers. I suspect the latter two correlated due to my Adventure score.

It’s intriguing to see the correlation with female advertising executives in light of how I’ve evolved into the realm of social media marketing and strategic communication outside of politics and law.

What's Next?

Although I’m not absolutely certain, I think I may have taken the SCII again in 1996, or perhaps some type of assessment more suited for mid-career evaluations. I know I did some type of assessment around the time I decided to take the GRE and consider more graduate education. But those results aren't in my folder, so I may not find them any time soon.

Any, I’m having a lot of fun with this self-exploration project and can’t wait to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s almost like I’m assembly the building blocks for some type of memoir about my life.

Discover. [Be]Inspire[d]. Grow. Shine.

Have you ever taken the SCII? Did you find the results to be consistent with your perceived interests and strengths? Have you ever compared those results to your MBTI assessment?

Do you think these types of assessments are fun?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own experiences with interests, strengths and related types of tests.


Introvert or Extrovert?

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Do you often think that the introvert is shy and socially awkward?  I suspect that many people classify introverts that way. In reality, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert stems from where the person gets his or her energy.

I'm one of those folks who enjoy messing around with personality tests. I even have fun from time to time with BuzzFeed quizzes and I thought it would be fun to put together a post comparing the results of the various personality and strengths-assessments I've accumulated over the years. I wanted to examine the consistencies and look for contradictions. So, this weekend, I sat down to organize and analyze all my “data.”

Is it a coincidence that just as I was working on my post about personality tests that this post about How to Understand An Introvert appeared on the Huffington Post? I think not.

In any event, the first draft of my personality-tests-comparison-post was turning into War and Peace, so I decided to break the topic up into smaller chunks.  This first installment focuses on the introversion vs extroversion distinction.

This graphic illustration by Roman Jones does a great job of summarizing what makes an introvert different. You can buy the poster here.



Ambivert? Or Slightly Introverted?

I've taken the Myers-Briggs MBTI test several times. I typically score just over the mid-point into the Introversion side, but just barely. I might be an ambivert. I've written about my extroverted-introvert tendencies here.

Most recently, in September 2014 when I re-took the MBTI with students in class I'm teaching I scored this way:

I: 53% introverted

N: 60% intuitive

T: 53% Thinker

P: 93% Perceiver

I enjoy public speaking, I enjoy giving presentations, and I enjoy hanging out with other people and talking about ideas. But when it comes to too much external stimuli, like noise and constantly being “on” while meeting new people, I do have a limit and threshold. For that reason, I think I'm slightly introverted.

The more I have to be “on” in a high-energy social context, the more I want to chill-out when I get back home. For example,if I spend a day socializing and interacting at a relatively high-energy conference I prefer a quiet dinner or just an evening in with time to decompress rather than spending several more hours at the after-party.

On the other hand, I also have a need for conversation and social interaction, so I can't stay cooped up at home or in my office for too long.

One of the books on my reading list is Susan Cain's Quiet. It's on my Kindle—but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I've heard Cain give several interviews over the past few years and have watched her TED talk more than once and I think she makes some extraordinarily important points about the value of quiet and solitude for deep thinking and transformational creativity.

She points out that introverts can't maximize their talents if they are forced to operate in a world that's increasingly designed by and for the extroverts.

“The key is to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

Susan Cain

The Roman Jones' illustration (above) reminded me why I'm not enthusiastic about killing time at work chit-chatting with colleagues and making small talk. It's not that I'm anti-social, but after a certain point, small talk starts to drains my energy. I'm less efficient when start getting tired and a n extroverted coworker's chattiness usually means that I have to work longer to get the same amount of work done.

Similarly, nothing is more annoying to me than to enter a waiting room with a TV blaring out some inane infomercial or mindless sitcom.  I loathe the automated department store displays that talk to me when I walk by.

Not Everyone Wants (or Needs) a Pep Rally

Susan Cain begins her TED talk with an anecdote about the R-O-W-D-I-E cheer at summer camp and how the experience left her feeling perplexed by all the emphasis on rah-rah-rah.

Hearing that story reminded me of how I've often felt at leadership training workshops where the moderator or session leader insisted that everyone stand up, dance around and sing songs together as some sort of team-building exercise. Not. For Me.

Re-Charge Days

I like to have at least one day each month to be “off,” so I can simply read a book or work in the yard, without having to do any degree of socializing. Those days recharge my batteries better than anything. Unfortunately, that's one goal that I haven't managed to achieve very often year. In fact, just typing that reminds me of how much I need to make myself take time for a recharge day–soon!

The point isn't that extroversion is good (or bad) or that introversion is good (or bad). The point is that everyone has an energy sweet-spot and a stimulation threshold. We all need some degree of solitude and quiet to contemplate and discover, to tap into our creativity.

If you are a leader, how are you enabling the right environment to allow everyone to become their best self?

If you are an introvert, do you face challenges at work? If you're in extrovert, do you ever take time to be quiet?

I'd love to hear from you–leave a comment below and share your personal experiences with introversion or extroversion, especially how things have changed for you over the past 10 or so years.



Extroverted Introvert–Or Vice Versa?

I'll admit to a fondness for personality-type tests. Maybe fondness is the wrong word. Intrigue? Fascination? Curiosity?

That's it. I think I'm curious about personality and Strengths-Finder tests. Always have been, at least since one of the career assessment tests I took as a young adult matched me with journalist or air traffic controller.

A year or so after I scored compatible with air traffic controllers, then-President Ronald Reagan “dispatched” all the air traffic controllers into the neverland of career-dom.

In grad school, I discovered Albert Bandura and have been fascinated by the self-efficacy hypothesis and how that plays into life-successes.

Introvert or Extrovert?

The introvert-extrovert dichotomy has intrigued me the most. If I had to classify myself, I'd say that “in real life” I tend to be an introvert because, all things being equal (most of the time), I like to stay home and read a book. I need down-time to recharge my batteries, and I enjoy my own company. But another side of me also enjoys meeting new people and I'm very comfortable when talking to strangers.

It's much harder for me to make small-talk with people I have some regular familiarity with than it is for me to have a conversation with a stranger. I'm extroverted with strangers, more reserved with casual, ongoing acquaintances. Is that strange?

I have no problem getting on a plane and flying to another part of the world and making new friends. I love chatting up new friends online. But once it goes beyond the acquaintance level it's much more difficult for me to sustain the relationship.

I think the internet enhances my extroversion, rather than the other way round.

What's that all about?

Strengths Finder 2.0

When I returned to law practice in 2007 after a 5-year hiatus, I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test. All of the lawyers were asked to take the test so we could use these strengths to develop teams to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in representing clients.The results of that 2007 version of my Strengths Finder 2.0  test revealed my top 5 strengths were:

Strategic, Input, Learner, Ideation and Intellection.

In 2012 I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test for  a second time, as part of a sustainable food systems leadership training program I went through. The results were quite similar, although not identical: Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Maximizer, Achiever.


Intuitively speaking, I think the 2012 results are more accurate.

Meyers Briggs

I've taken the Meyers-Briggs tests a couple of times. I usually score mildly-introverted, strongly intuitive , but less definitive between thinking/feeling. I'm pretty logical, but also open to making decisions based on the situation.

For the most part, I tend toward introversion, but never strong. I'm always borderline between introvert/extrovert (lean introvert) and more inclined to special circumstances (“feeling”). Regardless of when I take the test, I score pretty strong as Intuitive and Perceiving.

Specifically, the Meyers-Briggs Personality Indicator® test is designed to measure attributes that evaluate your personality based on these criteria:

  • Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)[I split the difference here, with a tendency toward Introversion]
  • Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)[Always score as highly Intuitive.]
  • Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).[Again, in this one, it depends on when I take the test. TI tend toward being inclined toward decisions based on feeling, at least in my later years of adulthood.]
  • Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). [I display Very strong Perceiving tendencies.]

In the celebrity-version of the Meyers-Briggs tests, I scored INFP:

Kindred-celebrity INFPs include: John Lennon, A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pool, dig it!), C.S. Lewis, Thom Yorke, Morrissey, Louis CK, Kurt Cobain, Björk. Ancient history INFPs include George Orwell (1984) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

I'll take these kindred spirits.

What do you thing? Legit or not? Id love to hear your thoughts. Scroll down past these infographics and leave your comments.

In the world of Harry Potter, I'm a cross between Hermoine Granger, Lorna Lovegood, Ron Weasley and Sirius Black. No disagreements there.

Harry Potter Meyers Briggs


According to the Star Wars version, I've matched with Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and R2D2. Dig it!

If you're into Meyers-Briggs and Star Wars you'll enjoy this infographic:

Star Wars MBTI Chart

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community – Visually.

In the land of Downton Abbey, I'm somewhere between Matthew, Tom, Anna and Thomas. Although I don't dispute those results, I'm quite not as excited about them as the Harry Potter or Star Wars match. (I think it's the Thomas bit–he's too much of a conniver and manipulating opportunist). But I do LOVE the show. My friend Rachel who blogs at GraspingForObjectivity created the Downton Abbey MBTI infographic. If you like, it send her some social sharing love.

downton abbey mtbi poster by rachel