Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who Are You?

Who are you?

What sort of person are you? What type of personality? And are you the same person at work, at home, when sailing, when blogging?

I find myself asking myself these questions after running that Typealyzer test on my blog yesterday and discovering that it said I am a totally different personality (as measured by Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) than I thought I was.

I took the Myer-Briggs test several times when I was working and always came out as INTJ. Extremely so on most of those preferences. But Typealyzer says I am ESTP. Totally opposite in three of the four "dichotomies".

What's going on? Does sailing bring out a totally different side of my personality? Or am I faking it, playing a role when writing my blog?

Let's break it down...

Energy Orientation: Extraversion (E) / Introversion (I)
Extraverts are drawn to the outside world as their elemental source of energy. They must engage the things, people, places and activities going on in the outside world for their life force. Introverts, on the other hand, draw their primary energy from the inner world of information, thoughts, ideas, and other reflections.

I think it's true that I'm an extreme "I". And I suspect that most of my ex-work colleagues and sailing friends would agree. I enjoy the company of other people but they are not what provide me with my basic source of energy. I live in the world of ideas and thoughts and reflections.

But I can understand why Typealyzer would conclude from my blog that I am an "E". When I first started Proper Course (and to still to an extent today) it was a vehicle for my inner conversation with myself. A place to jot down my thoughts and reflections (as this post is.) But it's also true that I discovered that I get a huge boost from the comments and feedback that folk leave on my blog. I love the interaction with my blogging friends. I enjoy building the community of friends who participate in things like our group writing projects. I deliberately stimulate comments by asking open questions. (Who are you?) I think I would probably abandon the blog altogether if people stopped leaving comments. So, yes, the blog has allowed me to express the "E" side of my personality; probably much more so than I do in any other aspect of my life.

Not to mention that if you write a blog about a physical outdoor activity like sailing, a tool like Typealyzer is probably going to tag you as an "E" anyway. It sounds as if many other sailing blog score an "E" too, even when the writer is an "I".

Perceiving: Sensing (S) / Intuition (N)
Those who prefer Sensing Perception favor clear, tangible data and information that fits in well with their direct here-and-now experience. In contrast, those who prefer Intuition Perception are drawn to information that is more abstract, conceptual, big-picture, and represents imaginative possibilities for the future.

I've always been a bit confused about this one. I was trained as a scientist so I always assumed I was an "S", someone who looks for facts, and data and details. But the Myers-Briggs tests I took at work always ranked me as an "N". And I suppose that in my work as an IT manager that is how my mind operated. I was drawn to concepts and theories that made sense of all the details. I always wanted to try and see the "big picture". I learned to rely on insight and intuition. I used the word "architecture" a lot. Even what I'm doing now, trying to make sense of who I am and how I write within the Myers-Briggs framework is surely an "N" trait.

But why would Typealyzer see me as an "S" when looking at my blog? Is it because most of my recent posts have been about facts and news in the real world, be it the America's Cup or my own frostbite racing? Maybe. I ran Typealyzer again on some of the topics in my blog that I thought might expose more of my "N" side. The posts on Rules, Theory and Mental Fitness still showed me as an "S". But the Weather topic, that included all those wonkish posts on the theory of wind, came out as "N".


Another question that springs to mind is, "Are the best racing sailors "S" or "N" types?" All of the racing books and coaches would have you believe that the secret of racing success is to analyze the data; know the settings that make the boat go fast; work out what the wind is doing and decide on a strategy for the start and the race; keep your head out of the boat and watch the wind and the fleet; use the information your senses provide. All "S" stuff.

But, don't the top racers have more "N" in their make-up? Don't they have some sixth sense, some intuition that is the key to their success? Isn't the ability to see the big picture of what is happening on the race course much more important than knowing the current compass heading?

Judgement: Thinking (T) / Feeling (F)
Those who prefer Thinking Judgment have a natural preference for making decisions in an objective, logical, and analytical manner with an emphasis on tasks and results to be accomplished. Those whose preference is for Feeling Judgment make their decisions in a somewhat global, visceral, harmony and value-oriented way, paying particular attention to the impact of decisions and actions on other people.

At least all the tests agree on this dimension. I'm a "T". Cold-hearted logical bastard. You should keep out of my way on the race course.

Lifestyle: Judgment (J) / Perception (P)
Those who prefer Judging rely upon either their T or F preference to manage their outer life. This typically leads to a style oriented towards closure, organization, planning, or in some fashion managing the things and or people found in the external environment.

Those who prefer Perceiving rely upon either their S or N preference to run their outer life. This typically results in an open, adaptable, flexible style of relating to the things and people found in the outside world. The drive is to experience the outside world rather than order it; in general lack of closure is easily tolerated.

In my working life I was definitely a "J". Once a decision was made (using my Thinking side of course) that was it as far as I was concerned. Let's get on with it. Closure is my middle name. I worked with a guy who was an extreme "P". For him no decision was ever final. He didn't know the meaning of the word "closure". He was always "open and flexible" to remaking every decision. We drove each other crazy until we both took Myers-Briggs. After that we still drove each other crazy... but at least we knew why and could laugh about it.

So why does Typealyzer see me as a "P"? Could it be because I ask so many questions on my blog? Where will the next America's Cup be? Is Larry Ellison an evil genius or just evil? Will I be DFL in next week's frostbiting or will I wimp out altogether? Do I communicate a personality in my blog that is always open to new suggestions? Does Tillerman ever really close down a discussion on his blog? Will his readers ever get tired of all his questions?

OK. I think I understand it now. I have reflected on the matter like a true "I". I have used my intuition to understand the big picture like a real "N". I have thought the matter through just like a typical "T". And I have made my decision as a "J" always will.

The subject is closed. I am INTJ. Typealyzer is crap.

That's who I am. Who are you?


Greg and Kris said...

I've usually come up an INTJ, also, when forced to participate in that assessment at work. Solidly I, I might add. Interesting how the blog is interpreted by the analyzer. As a business analyst, I'm curious how they set up their assessment. As a busy person with too many other things going on, I can't be bothered to run any experiments to test their algorithm.

ChrisP said...

I ran (free plug!) in typealyzer and came out as ESFP. Then I ran my other blog, (shameless plug!) and came out as ESTP. Either I have a very split personality, or....

Jos said...

As far as I can see it depends highly on how you've organised your sidebar!

Because there are lists and bullets and what not, everything you write in posts is skewed with that analytic bit...

To truly assess your writing, delete your sidebar and run typealyzer again.

After that, you get to know yourself pretty well during that painstakingly slow process of putting everything back again in the sidebar.....

I've been numbering my post-comments for reference, that should help get rid of any form of F in my profile...

Pandabonium said...

I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam.

Tim said...

I have done the Myers Briggs test 3 times and each time it is different. It could be that I only have one strong score which is the one consistant (N) but it could be that we change.
I do know that MB is only a preference indicator and that means that we can often find ourselves operating in different modes depending on the situation we are in.
The problem comes when we find ourselves operating outside our preferences for extended periods of time. My experiances is that it causes stress. Then I want to go sailing.

Pat said...

I've been pretty consistently typed on the real test and suspect that the limitations of the blog analyzer and differences between a blog's structure and content and the way humans interact could account for many differences.

Oh yes, I've been typed as INTJ, with a softer "J" and Carol Anne as an INTP.

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