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The INTJ personality type and me

Posted by John Reed on

The INTJ personality type

A reader who read my article “The ‘your four best friends from high school’ market segment” and a lot of my other web articles says I am an INTJ personality type.

That is one of sixteen personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs personality test. Have I taken it? Probably. I took most of that stuff and it sounds familiar.

I am leery of these tests. They always seem a little off to me. Plus, I am now 67 so I sort of know the answers to what these tests are trying to predict because of having lived a long life.

I write about it here not because you should have any interest in INTJ’s or me, but to illustrate the basic point that you are one of these sixteen personality types and knowing which one you are is key to figuring out what situations you should put yourself in during your life and which you should avoid. I am not endorsing the Myers-Briggs test per se, but rather the more general principle of know thyself.

Young people mistakenly think, or hope, that they are good at everything.

No one is.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It is the hand you are dealt. Trying to win the game with another hand that you were not dealt is suicidal per se.

Here is a synopsis of INTJ from Wikipedia with my comments in red:

It says this is one of the rarest of the 16 MB personality types—only 1 to 3% of females and 2 to 6% of males. Well, I can certainly believe whatever type I am is rare. I seemed to be almost the only one of my type in the 2-million man U.S. Army when I was in. I did not meet all the others, but with all the moving around we all did, it is like a small town and no one ever said, “You’re like so and so whom I was stationed with in 1968.” Rather, the comment I got from the 30-year general was, “Everyone else can’t be out of step, Lieutenant Reed.” I told him they can be and they were.

I – Introversion preferred to extroversion: INTJs tend to be quiet and reserved. I was voted “most quiet boy” in my high school class of 388. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, (I tend to talk to only a few people at cocktail parties rather than circulate.) and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extroverts gain energy). That does not sound like me at all.
N – Intuition preferred to sensing: Huh? INTJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. I am a professional writer. Concrete is good writing. I think of abstract and concrete as two languages, both of which I speak fluently. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details (I do both) and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities. (Again, both seem worthy of thought to me.)
T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference or sentiment. (Absolutely. See my list of honest and dishonest debate tactics.) When making decisions they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations. (More weight!? Screw social considerations! Those are for plays-well-with-others, go-along-to-get-along suck-ups with no character! Is that “T” enough for you?)

J – Judgment preferred to perception: INTJs tend to plan their activities (I have a detailed binder for each trip we take.) and make decisions early. (What does “early” mean? I make them when they need to be made and sometimes that means early.) They derive a sense of control through predictability, which to perceptive types may seem limiting. (Bingo. The classic example of that in my life is the Dating System I and a college roommate of mine invented. It is thoroughly described in my book Succeeding. I met my wife of 39 years that way.)

Wikipedia says, 

the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey. Keirsey referred to INTJs as Masterminds, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Rationals.

“Rationals” are engineer or coordinator types. Okay, I studied a lot of engineering at West Point and I thought it was great stuff, the best part of the West Point education. Also, I was in various coordinator jobs in football coaching. Having that title was not significant but it is an accurate description of what I do in my books on football and baseball coaching.

Rationals trust reason implicitly. They rely on objective observations and factual analysis in any given situation. They seek a logical argument as a basis for action.

Well, that’s straight out of my debate tactics list and in a constant theme in my various Facebook debates.

Perhaps it would help if I tell you my definition of the alternative to “Rationals,” which I guess would be called “Irrationals.” They are airhead, ignoramus, infantile, annoyances who think emotions are a 100% substitute for facts and logic and that good intentions are a 100% substitute for results. Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah are two prominent Irrationals by their own admission—although they would call it “going with their heart” and accuse me of not having one. Yeah, so go back to “2 + 2 = 5” Land and listen to your “heart” tell you where to invest your savings. Solyndra? Exactly!

Wikipedia also says of ‘Rationals”,

Rationals strive to gain as much information as possible, applying what they learn to develop long-term plans and the steps for achieving them. They are characterized by a tough-minded personal style, tending to pursue either power or understanding. They are often strong-willed, ambitious, intelligent, and self-determined. Subjective thoughts and emotion have no place in the decision-making process of a Rational. Driven to excel, they work hard to achieve their goals, and they do well where they can take control or work independently on a task.

Has this guy Keirsey been following me around?

The Rationals' self-esteem is rooted in their ingenuity; their self-respect in their autonomy; and their self-confidence in their resoluteness.

Sonuvabitch! He HAS been following me around!

Rationals are unconventional thinkers when deciding on a task or solving a problem. Individualistic by nature, Rationals observe their own interests as a response to action, free from societal conformity or traditional thinking. Rationals are not necessarily uncooperative, but they will refuse to perform a certain action if it goes against their understanding or experience and is not based on sound logic or the facts (as they understand them) in a given context.

Including when I was in the Army!

There is more such stuff in the more narrow Wikipedia article on Keirsey’s “Mastermind” type. Seems to fit me extremely well. Keirsey says Ayn Rand was a “Mastermind” type. I was once accused of being an “Ayn Rand hero” by a company commander who had previously been an English teacher. I like Rand and have described the novel I am working on as like Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. He also lists Dwight Eisenhower and U.S. Grant, two former presidents who are graduates of my alma mater, West Point. Here is a link to a list of other celebrities who someone says were INTJ.

Again, my point to you is not to read about me and my personality type, but to understand that such research exists and that you can use it to help you understand who you are and, thereby, what career and spouse you need to choose. That is the essence of my Succeeding book. Figure out in enormous detail who you are and who you are not, then match that to a career and spouse.

 Here is an email I got from Jeff Owen, a fellow West Point graduate, about this article:


Another great article.  And one which is near and dear to my heart, having studied Myers-Briggs for 17 years.

 I have met only 1 INTJ person in my entire life.  And that is my loving wife.  There is NO QUESTION about or mistaking an INTJ personality.  And there is no way that you are an INTJ.  

 My extensive research on this topic has shown me that although INTJs do, in fact, display the traits of each of the letter designations, the intricacy and depth of their personalities is so great that the letters themselves do not do justice to the whole.

 INTJs are super abstract.  And they keep all of their thoughts to themselves.  They do not write “how to” books or even think about blogging or writing articles for the whole world to see.  They don’t even share their thoughts with family members, let alone the world.  After almost 14 years together, I am still finding things out about my wife that I never imagined were possible.

 You are one of the most concrete writers I’ve ever read.  You say what you mean, and you put it all out there.  And you write in a persuasive, disciplined, and organized fashion.  You go from “A” to “B,” and if there’s a better way, please let me know so I can get there faster.

 INTJs go from “A” to “378” and then back to purple and new age music and pictures of horses and recipes for lemon meringue pie.  And don’t EVER tell them how to do something better . . . because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

INTJs have few to no friends, and, at almost 70 years old, have MAYBE dated 3-4 people in their entire lives.  Probably fewer.  “The System” developed by an INTJ?  No f’ing way. 

I am an ISTJ, and I think you may be as well (“The System” SCREAMS ISTJ, BTW).  Which is why I find your writing so fascinating and spot-on.  And probably why we both realized pretty early on that the Army is a POS bunch of bureaucratic bullying BS and not our cup of tea.

 PS:  most successful Army officers are “E” types.  Which is why they like their parties/OVUM/OPUM.  Interestingly, most successful Navy officers are “I” types.  Go figure.

 Happy Holidays to you and yours!


My respone to him: 

Regarding the S: “They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities.” I think I focus on all four of those.

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