Entp Personality Growth Essay

Few things are as satisfying to an ENTP as blazing new trails. They are masters at the art of re-inventing the wheel and will often refuse to do a task the same way twice.

They question standardized norms and, if given a choice, will ignore them altogether. For ENTPs, rules are made to be broken.

ENTPs make up only 3% of the world’s population, with men outnumbering women 2 to 1.

ENTPs are commonly found in careers in science, technology, management, and the arts. Yet they are among the most dissatisfied in their careers, despite being among the highest wage earners of all the types.

They are overrepresented among those demonstrating Type A behavior, in spite of the the fact that they, as a group, report low levels of stress.

ENTPs are one of only two types who are reported as frequently violating college alcohol policies.

Famous ENTPs are Jon Stewart, Benjamin Franklin and Richard Feynman.

In a recent survey of ENTPs we asked four questions:

  • What are the top 3 challenges you face as an ENTP?
  • What 3 things do you wish others knew about you as an ENTP?
  • What 3 books/movies/courses/events have most impacted your life?
  • What do you wish you could have told your 15 year old self

In this article, I would like to focus on the last of the four survey questions –What do you wish you could have told your 15 year old self

Many of the answers shared some common themes. So, I have broken them all down to 5 items ENTPs wish they had known when they were 15 years old, in order of frequency.

#1 Take Charge of Your Life

The only ENTP I know personally, spent a large portion of her life in cognitive dissonance. She did this because she was trying to force herself into a box that others had created for her. ENTPs don’t do boxes, or confinement. Freedom is the lifeblood of the ENTP.

27% of ENTPs who responded to our survey would like their younger selves to take charge of their life and stop letting others call the shots.

Direct Quotes:

  • “You are more than what you came from. You have the immense power to influence, so start understanding that now and embody that.”
  • “Life is full of paradoxes when you look without. Look within, meditate, and live in the paradoxes that exist without. You have complete control of your reality. The answer lies within.”
  • “Anything is possible if you believe it is. Your mind creates your reality based on your beliefs. Examine what you believe and be open to changing your mind. Always.”
  • “Aw, honey, you are amazing. You are not like anyone else (srsly, female Christian genius-level ENTP–ain’t many of those out there) so acknowledge your uniqueness and work hard to figure out how to leverage those unique strengths while addressing those unique weaknesses. Also, it’s okay that you get along better with men than with women, but please be careful about leading them on. You’re gonna be sorry someday for the hearts you break. ”
  • “Don’t beat yourself up, the rest of the world has you covered for that. Don’t sweat what everyone is trying to get you to do and not do. Take a deep breath and think about something you’re grateful for. Understand what every moment calls for, and become what it calls for.”

#2 Work Harder

ENTPs dominant mental process is Extraverted Intuition (“Exploration” in the Genius System). This is an optimistic cognitive function that sees possibilities everywhere. It enjoys playing with new ideas and engaging in battles of wit with other people. ENTPs can be charming, charismatic, and fun-loving.

Apparently, this approach to life can lack focus, however. 13% of ENTPs surveyed said they would tell their younger selves to work harder.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Dear 15 year old self, Doing drugs and being promiscuous will not make you feel more beautiful. You will go on to have a much better life than you can imagine, but because of the way you are acting, it will take you longer than your peers to see success. Please focus more on school and less on partying. Yours truly, your 30 year old self.”
  • “Rather than take the route of least resistance, challenge yourself to take the hardest, most obstacle filled route. Don’t fear failure.”
  • “Be more hard working. But if you don’t want to, you will figure things out. You are a survivor!”
  • “Work harder, just a little bit…. And focus! Party afterwards.”

#3 You Still Have A Lot to Learn

The auxiliary function of the ENTP personality type is Introverted Thinking (“Accuracy”). This cognitive function creates tremendous focus around subjects and can become incredibly knowledgeable about such things. In its less developed form, it can become myopic and rest into the belief that  it has gained all the knowledge there is.

There’s always something new to be learned. 12% of ENTPs would tell their 15 year old selves that they still have a lot to learn.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Oh, little ENTP, have more patience with other people. Not everyone is like you. I recommend that you put yourself in their shoes. Learn what kind of person they are and how they think in order to better understand where they are coming from in their mentality. Just because they are not wired the way you are, does not mean that they don’t have a lot to offer. You could learn a lot from people who are different from you.”
  • “You are not the smartest creature out there.”
  • “Take life a little more seriously. Get a job. Just do what you have to do to acquire discipline. Whatever it takes, because none of your ambitions will be possible without it. You are often wrong. In conflicts, most of the time both people are wrong to some extent so don’t spend all your time telling the other person how they’re wrong. It will be much more profitable to look at yourself first so you can improve yourself. And stop being so lazy!”

#4 You Are Smarter Than You Realize

As an interesting contrast to the previous statistic, 9% of ENTPs would tell their younger selves that they are smarter than they realize.

Direct Quotes:

  • “You are smart. Your skills are valuable. You aren’t a nut. You’re just different. ”
  • “Some rules do make sense. Apply yourself. You are smarter than you realize.”
  • “The Internet really is all you think it is. Act on your instincts! Go to UNC, not Duke. You’re not going to be a lawyer anyway. Be more trusting of your intuition.”

#5 Keep Your Options Open

ENTPs love the idea of unfettered freedom. They become bored when the newness of something wears off and it becomes mundane.

Therefore it is important for ENTPs to feel that their life continues to have exciting new horizons. 7% of ENTPs would like their younger selves to keep their options open.

Direct Quotes:

  • “Keep your options open. Don’t get locked into one way of thinking. You have many choices to make. God won’t be mad at you if you don’t do everything just right.”
  • “It’s okay to not be certain of  what you want to be when you grow up (doctor, lawyer, etc.) The career will naturally find you (and entrepreneurship naturally did).”
  • “Don’t force yourself into the best classes because you think that’s the best way to success. You’ll have an amazing high school experience if you take classes you’re interested in and interact with people who aren’t traditionally smart!”
  • “Don’t bow to the pressure to ‘do’ something because that’s ‘just the way the world works.’ Do what makes you excited – and when you’re done, move on! Don’t let the world’s ‘practicality’ tie you down. But be aware of the risks you take. ”

We would love to hear more about the advice ENTPs would give to their teenage selves. Please share them in the comments below.


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After Joel and I released a podcast on the INFJ personality, we received an overwhelming response from (the Myers-Briggs type) INTJ for more information on understanding their type. (Perspectives/Effectiveness in the Genius System).

That makes sense – these two types (the INFJ and the INTJ) are almost certainly the most misunderstood by both others and by themselves.

I’d almost argue that INFJs are a little easier to understand. That might be because my mother is an INFJ and I grew up around her, but there’s something about the acute pain an INFJ experiences that is an entrance into understanding them. As if the pain, itself, was a foot in the door of entering in and seeing the whole picture.

To find an entrance into an INTJ is much, much more difficult. Everything they exhibit is more subtle and muted, and the rabbit’s hole goes very deep.

As an ENTP, INTJs are my “Power Pair,” and there’s no doubt that I’ve found myself surrounded by them my entire life. I’ve lived with them, worked with them, fought with them, coached them, made love to and been rendered jelly while kissing them… you get the picture.

For all of my experience with INTJs, there are a couple of crucial components without which I don’t think you can really understand this type:

1) An INTJ is almost invariably smarter than the vast majority of people in analytical, existential, and linguistic intelligence.
There are other types that outperform INTJs in IQ tests (for example, INTPs), but I would venture to say that in all the ways society chooses to acknowledge ‘intelligence’, INTJs as a group outclass just about everyone else. Sure, other types outclass them in intra- and introspective intelligences, and of course kinesthetic/body awareness intelligence. But most cultures diminish the importance of these styles.

To truly understand an INTJ it’s important to realize that they are almost always ‘the smartest person in the room’ in the ways that we all have been socially programmed to recognize “smart.” This is a double-edged sword.

2) They are built like arthropods, and have an exoskeleton.

And it’s not purely a defensive strategy. Unlike the INFJ type that uses a ‘hard candy shell’ as protection against the world, an INTJ’s exoskeleton is a necessary part of their makeup. But like all things we come out of the hatch with, it can be used defensively. I’ll explain in a moment.

3) They are a LOT more sensitive than you realize.

What’s the point of an exoskeleton? To protect the squishy, nougat-like center, of course.

If you don’t see past the hard exterior and acknowledge just how vulnerable the inner world is, you cannot understand this type.

Before we talk about all that, let’s look at The Car Model for the INTJ personality type:

The Driver is Perspectives.

Perspectives is the process that helps INTJ’s watch their own minds form patterns, get inside the minds of others and allows them to see implications far into the future.

The Co-Pilot is Effectiveness.

Effectiveness makes decisions based on practical application, answering the question “What works,” creating metrics to determine milestones, and closing loops.

The 10 Year Old is Authenticity.

Authenticity, when done well, is all about “What feels RIGHT.” It’s how we get in touch with how things are impacting us on a subjectively emotional level, and it’s where we create conviction.

The 3 Year Old is Sensation.

Sensation, when done well, is how we stay present in the moment, and process the extraordinary amount of sensory detail that is coming at us at all times. It’s also where we get in touch with what gives us an adrenaline rush and how we improvise with our bodies.

(If you’re a Myers-Briggs geek, the primary cognitive function for this type is Introverted Intuition, the secondary is Extraverted Thinking, the tertiary is Introverted Feeling and the inferior is Extraverted Sensing.)

If you look at most profiles about the INTJ personality type, they’ll focus on the Mastermind quality of the INTJ. Long range strategy, designing truly complex systems that can be replicated, finding the weaknesses in infrastructure… INTJs are the walking think tanks that streamline the world.

But there’s only so much think tanking the world wants done, and the overwhelming majority of INTJs are just looking for a job that doesn’t make them want to stab their eyes out.

This is important to recognize – most INTJs are only somewhat satisfied in their career choice. You’ll see them peppered throughout universities as professors, in I.T. and programming departments as developers, engineers, etc. Regardless, most INTJs are not utilizing the full wattage of their problem-solving, think tanking abilities. So there’s always this feeling, however deep and unconscious, that their talents – or even they, themselves – are being ‘wasted’.

Because of their introverted nature, there’s a strong need to be acknowledged and given credit, but without the indignity of having to do cartwheels. Remember when I said they outclass almost everyone in three very socially recognized forms of intelligence? It can be a source of frustration that not everyone automatically sees the full extent of this, though they are often considered by people who know them to be ‘very smart’. This gives birth to a couple of other things that just become “INTJ Problems.”

First, as a society we tend to glamorize raw computing power, but we don’t have a lot of love for people who come up with solutions that mean we have to change stuff. So, we tend to marginalize problem-solvers… unless those problem-solvers are putting dollar bills into our pockets. Most true solutions mean going through a painful transitional cycle, and the more far reaching the problem the longer the transition. We also tend to favor efficiency over effectiveness, which will drive an INTJ crazier than anything.

Creating sustainable models are the crack cocaine of INTJs, and living in a world that’s so short-sighted can make them jaded and cynical.

Second, there’s a major tendency to ‘double down’ on being so much smarter than everyone else, and therefore being dismissive. No one – and I mean NO ONE – puts as much thought into things like an INTJ does, according to the INTJ. And to some extent that’s true – it’s a rare bird that thinks as long and hard about anything as they do. But this dismissive attitude, combined with a perpetual feeling of being marginalized, creates the perfect context to generate pride as an emergent.

Once an INTJ gets stuck in the ‘no one else sees what I see, thinks as long and hard as I think, understand like I understand’ loop, the inclination to stay in the realm of ideas and conceptualizing becomes almost too attractive.

I mentioned before that an INTJ is like an arthropod, with an exoskeleton and a very squishy center.

Like INFJs, INTJs use the Perspectives process to be able to see things as others see them and get in the heads of other people. But unlike INFJs, they don’t couple this with a Co-Pilot that checks in with others emotional experience. They couple it with a more analytical process – Effectiveness – which gives them some psychological and emotional distance from others. This is their exoskeleton – a hard, outer shell that gives them room to think about long-range implications. They create their own ‘space’ – or, intellectual work room – that allows for truly exceptional thinking.

However, their 10 Year Old process is Authenticity, a process which encourages them to be sympathetic of the subjective human experience. Whenever they engage in this mental process there’s a part of them that knows they’re a sitting duck… because they are. Perspectives allows them to see how others see, Authenticity encourages them to mirror back how others feel. Because an INTJ is able to occupy both the headspace and the heartspace of another person, they become at that person’s mercy.

The exoskeleton that Effectiveness provides creates necessary and healthy boundaries to ensure they don’t get ‘squished’ by others.

(When they don’t have permission to use and exercise Effectiveness – some have reported that many attempts to become leaders or to get projects accomplished were frustrated by either parents, the school system, or other influencers and so they just ‘stopped trying’ – they use Authenticity as a defense the only way they know how: they call upon the emotion of pride to get them through as a barrier between themselves and the object that can hurt them.)

Before you’re allowed entrance, you must be vetted for trustworthiness. Like INFJs, there is a sense of others being able to do real damage, and ensuring they aren’t inviting in a ‘bull into the china shop’.

Once you’re in, though, you’re IN. I’ve held grown INTJ men as they wept for a lost love because I was ‘in’. I had been invited into the inner sanctum of that squishy space, and I was allowed to experience first-hand their amazing sensitivity.

Without the exoskeleton, there would be no protection against the world. As I mentioned before, unlike an INFJ who can use a ‘hard candy shell’ defensively and must learn to be a conduit for others emotional experience, an INTJ’s exoskeleton isn’t naturally meant for retreat. But if misused it can become a defensive strategy, particularly against suggestions to get into action. To illustrate how an actual exoskeleton works:

Since exoskeletons are rigid, they present some limits to growth. Organisms with open shells can grow by adding new material to the aperture of their shell, as is the case in snails, bivalves and other molluscans. A true exoskeleton, like that found in arthropods must be shed (moulted) when it is outgrown.A new exoskeleton is produced beneath the old one. As the old one is shed, the new skeleton is soft and pliable. The animal will pump itself up to expand the new shell to maximal size, then let it harden. When the shell has set, the empty space inside the new skeleton can be filled up as the animal eats.Failure to shed the exoskeleton once outgrown can result in the animal being suffocated within its own shell, and will stop subadults from reaching maturity, thus preventing them from reproducing.

-Wikipedia, “Exoskeleton”

I’m about to go massively abstract, so please bear with me.

A big part of the perpetual learning most INTJs do is to build on that exoskeleton – or, in other words, be more and more prepared for a world that isn’t very kind to creatures who lack awareness.

In order to experience real growth, an INTJ needs to feel certain that they won’t be “left to the elements” during the process. Meaning, if they think they’ll be massively exposed they’re simply not going to venture out into a world that could crush them like a grape.

But if they burrow in and never allow themselves to experience life, they risk “suffocating within their own shell,” so to speak.

Growth, itself, can be slow because there’s always a question of how much, how quickly?

Much of the growth an INTJ does is internal – remember, the new exoskeleton is being built underneath the existing skeleton. That means a lot of growth is happening where you can’t see it, and so outside forces will give the INTJ feedback that they aren’t making fast enough progress simply because it’s all under the surface.

That said, it can be truly difficult for the INTJ to be willing to shed the old exoskeleton in favor of the new one, which is by definition softer and more vulnerable. If they do have the guts, though, this is generally a time period of extraordinary growth for the INTJ. For example, all of a sudden a once shy INTJ can become outgoing with an insane social schedule. There is a time period of ‘experience gluttony’ as they grow into their new shell, and once the growth happens, often they settle down and appear to level out.

These moments of growth are incredibly important, and if they don’t give themselves permission they will ‘suffocate’ under the weight of their old shell.

In the most healthy versions of INTJs, the growth phase will also encourage massive implementation, building something that can be measured. They position themselves in consulting or team-leading roles where others can bring their ideas to the ‘outside world’ and they can vet the ideas outside of mere concepts.

The less healthy the INTJ, though, the more they stay in the world of conceptualizing, think-tanking, idea-generating, etc. There is no end to learning, and they will always be in need of more of it. The extraordinary amount of content and material consumed by an INTJ can be staggering to think about, and while impressive, if the INTJ never graduates to implementation (either by themselves or through a team) they sink further and further into a world that can’t be visited by others. They disqualify themselves from intimate connections, relationships and from being able to have the impact on the world they crave.

The key to growth for INTJs can be found in the Co-Pilot process of Effectiveness. Many INTJs find themselves unsure of what exactly they want to bring to the world, and feel they have to have a complete picture of what it looks like before they can move forward. I’ve heard INTJs say things to the effect that they can’t go socializing until they ‘get their life together’, but still not have a clear idea of what that would look like.

Unfortunately, that lack of clarity is in and of itself a defensive strategy. The less well defined the goal, the more murky the definitions, the further away from action they allow themselves to be.

When an INTJ truly steps into their genius, they have clearly defined mile markers. Effectiveness is all about creating a linear strategy to get to a goal, and creating metrics to determine what ‘done’ looks like. The most empowering action an INTJ can take is 1) being aware of their own personal stall tactics, and 2) clearly outlining metricized markers on the way to a goal.

There’s a host of quotes about what can’t be measured can’t be managed, or improved upon. While that may or may not be empirically true, it is true for the INTJ, and is the key to INTJ fulfillment and happiness.

When an INTJ gets into action and begins reaching mile markers, their concepts are no longer abstractions. They can be vetted, improved upon, test/iterated. But most importantly, the INTJ is making an impact on their environment, which may be one of the most satisfying things they experience.

If you’re in a relationship with someone of this personality type, one of the best ways to build intimacy is both intellectual and emotional honesty with yourself. If an INTJ suspects that you can be exploitative – that you can dick with someone’s emotions or be intentionally cruel – they will shut you out as quickly as possible. Being vulnerable is precious to an INTJ and they appreciate it when you express it. Staying present, working through an issue, and being unwilling to be cruel with an INTJ is the surest way to their heart.





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INFJ, INTJ, INTJ Mastermind, INTJ personality type, Myers Briggs

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