Err, wait a moment… Did I say I don’t like personality tests? Let me revise that: I didn’t like personality tests!
There have been some encounters in my life that made me change my mind, at least with regard to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, short MBTI. I have learned that the MBTI can help you understand yourself better, and thus for instance be very helpful for career decisions.
Let me share my personal experience with you and see how this may apply to you.
My first contact with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator must have been about twelve years ago. I did the assessment during my first leadership seminar when I was a young manager in a large German corporation.
I cannot remember what the result was, but I remember well that it was quite disturbing. I felt that my natural preference of my so-called four letters “type” (that is the result of an MBTI assessment) was not ideal for the career that I was pursuing.
It needs to be emphasized at this point that MBTI neither measures skills nor the ability to perform in a certain job. What MBTI looks at is the natural preference on where a person directs their energy, how they take in information, how they make decisions, and how they orient their lives. Thus, knowing your type may help you decide what jobs just “come easier” for you. Again, it does not say whether you are suited for a specific job or whether you will perform in your career. But typically your life will be a lot easier if you can act at work in line with your natural preference.
I forgot about the MBTI for a decade.
Only during a mid-life re-orientation regarding my career, it came to my mind that personality assessments could be useful in my decision-making process. I tried a few tests like DISC, the Gallup StrengthsFinder and others. However, for me the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator happened to be the most powerful.
My MBTI “best fit” turned out as “INFJ”, a type you don’t necessarily find very often among managers in global corporations, the position I was in. If you look up INFJ in the related Keirsey temperaments, you will see it’s the idealist type of the “counselor”. And indeed research indicates that this type is statistically overrepresented in counseling professions.
“Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential.”
This was somehow amusing but at the same time it was a massive encouragement for me, as I was already in the midst of a career transition to become a professional coach! Suddenly everything felt just right.
It became also clear to me why I often felt in the wrong place in my old job. The desires of an INFJ are not easily fulfilled in a corporation with the primary goal of making money. Today, I feel more aligned with my core values and my natural preferences during my work as a professional coach.
In fact, I found the Myers-Briggs personality instrument so powerful that I decided to become a MBTI administrator myself and to use it in my coaching practice. Not only do I apply it with clients, but also in many situations in my personal day-to-day life: to understand other people better, to communicate more effectively, or to resolve conflicts.
When you are in the decision-making process of what career to pursue or what changes would help you in your life right now, I highly recommend taking the MBTI assessment. Look for an accredited administrator in your area or online. The fee for the professional administration is marginal compared to the return you may get.
Again, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does not tell you what to do, neither does it measure your skills. But it can give you a very concrete idea of what kind of work will come easy to you, and what working environment will suit you. Thus, you enable yourself to make better career decisions.