If I wanted to travel into and around Chicago, there are quite a few ways I could go about doing so. I could drive into the city and park in a garage. I could take the train into Ogilvie Transportation Center and travel around on other lines. I could find a bus to take me into and around town or call a taxi or ride with a friend. Once I’m there I could walk around Chicago, bike, take a boat or Segway tour, even take a carriage ride, maybe find a Golden Retriever to give me a ride!
With every way of traveling in and around Chicago, I can see it in a new light. The other day I didn’t want to take the highway into town, so I road in on Roosevelt Road all the way from Wheaton to Downtown. It took an extra hour, but I did see a whole new side of the city… though at a much slower pace. When I ride in on the train I get to see all the towns that lead into Chicago. And when I walk around, I see the city in all of its gritty yet elegant beauty.
I’d like this to be a metaphor for understanding all the ways we tend to categorize ourselves, with surveys and personality tests, asking from friends and experts, reading in Scripture and self-help books. Sometimes it seems pointless and fruitless (and I guess it can be if you are trying to find the meaning of life in your broken human nature), but just as a Segway tour might not be the most efficient way to travel in Chicago and yet lets you see things you might have missed out on, all of these books and tests can help us understand at least one facet of this gem we call “life.”
I’m going to through out a few tools and ways of seeing yourself and knowing yourself better, but by no means do I believe they are the end all solutions to discovering your identity. I do believe that in many ways Scripture speaks the highest truth into our lives. This verse has encouraged me time and time again, and I hope this might be the truth you cling to as you examine your life and try to understand yourself more and more: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14, ESV). God has made us and His we are. We are broken, but we are beautiful. Though we must pursue Christ-likeness and abandon things that keep us from being fully His (even things that seem fully part of our nature), we can still rejoice that God has made us and His works are wonderful. May you use these tools to see His wonderful work more and more.
I will not attempt to pretend I am an expert on any of these tools, but I will share what I know. This Type Indicator was based on research by Carl Jung and completed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It breaks up human personalities into categories based on preferences in nature. There is E/I which is Extravert/Introvert. Extraverts are more action oriented and recharge around people, while Introverts are more thought oriented and enjoy company but recharge on their own. Next is S/N or Sensing/iNtuitive. People who prefer sensing trust information and facts based on utilizing the five senses. Those who prefer Intuition prefer abstract and theoretical ideas and look for the information behind the details. Next is T/F or Thinking/Feeling. “Thinkers” prefer logical, consistent information from a detached position, while “Feelers” like to take a more empathetic approach, see things from the inside, and try to seek balance in a situation. Finally P/J or Perception/Judging is what Myers and Briggs added- it has more to do with typical action and lifestyle in regard to the external world. A “P” will show the world their preferred perceiving function, either Sensing or Intuitive, while a “J” will be known for their preferred judging function, either Thinking or Feeling.
Your preferred behavior will align with certain categories and your typical personality can be described using the four letters. Therefore, there are sixteen different combinations in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Yes, you can often act differently in different situations, but this is how you act in most situations, most of the time.
I am a proud INFJ, the smallest minority of types. There are an estimated 1-3% of people in the US with this type (compared to the most common type ISTJ at 11-14%). Maybe I just like being an underdog, but it’s encouraging to me to know there is a reason for why I don’t always see things the same way as other people and that there are still others like me. That is what’s nice about these tests– you find out how different people can be, but also that you’re not alone.
If you would like to take the Myers-Briggs Test, the official version is hours long and very comprehensive (and expensive). If you’d prefer a free version, follow this link to a website with a series of questions that you can answer in order to determine your type. (Website– http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp)
Here is a page with information about each of the types and here is a (very unofficial, inaccurate but still interesting) list of the personality types of famous individuals. The more you know about yourself, the more you can learn about how to live a balanced life, interact with others, and live to your potential.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this type of test, though I did one many years ago when I was writing on xanga… The Johari Window is a fun test to see how well you know yourself and how well others know you. Go to this website: http://kevan.org/johari. You will find a grid of words ranging from cheerful to modest to able and more– you choose five or six words that describe yourself and then name the page with your name or an alias. You share the link with others and find out their observations of your personality. There are four categories:
The ARENA– These are words obvious to YOU and the OTHERS.
The FACADE- These are words that YOU chose, but are descriptions that are not known to OTHERS. (For example, if you are very shy and knowledgeable, some people may not write that you are knowledgeable simply because they never hear you speak!)
The BLIND SPOT– These are words that OTHERS use to describe you, but YOU might not see or believe.
The UNKNOWN– (This is very interesting, and I borrow the following text from the Wikipedia article on the Johari window.) The words here may be chosen “because they do not apply or because there is collective ignorance of the existence of these traits. One facet of interest in this area is our human potential. Our potential is unknown to us, and others.”
It’s interesting to hear how other people view us. Another fun way of learning others’ observations is by playing the game Imaginiff. You’ll be amazed to hear what people will think of you! (It’s also fascinating to compare this to The Four Fields of Knowledge, a topic in E.F. Schumacher’s book A Guide for the Perplexed, a book I read in a freshman philosophy course. I will not pretend to know much about it, simply because it was a freshman philosophy course, but you can read more here.)
If you would like to contribute to my Johari Window, click here. Below is a tracker of how my window looks (hopefully it will stay updated!).
(known to self and others)
(known only to others)
bold, caring, cheerful, dependable, energetic, extroverted, friendly, giving, happy, helpful, intelligent, kind, knowledgeable, loving, modest, observant, patient, reflective, relaxed, responsive, spontaneous, sympathetic, trustworthy, warm, wise
(known only to self)
calm, clever, idealistic, introverted
(known to nobody)
able, accepting, adaptable, brave, complex, confident, dignified, independent, ingenious, logical, mature, nervous, organised, powerful, proud, quiet, searching, self-assertive, self-conscious, sensible, sentimental, shy, tense, witty
able (0%) accepting (0%) adaptable (0%) bold (12%) brave (0%) calm (0%) caring (25%) cheerful (12%) clever (0%) complex (0%) confident (0%) dependable (12%) dignified (0%) energetic (50%) extroverted (12%) friendly (50%) giving (12%) happy (25%) helpful (12%) idealistic (0%) independent (0%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (25%) introverted (0%) kind (37%) knowledgeable (12%) logical (0%) loving (12%) mature (0%) modest (25%) nervous (0%) observant (12%) organised (0%) patient (12%) powerful (0%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (25%) relaxed (12%) religious (12%) responsive (25%) searching (0%) self-assertive (0%) self-conscious (0%) sensible (0%) sentimental (0%) shy (0%) silly (37%) spontaneous (12%) sympathetic (12%) tense (0%) trustworthy (25%) warm (12%) wise (37%) witty (0%)
Now, be careful. found one online that apparently was on the Dr. Phil Show and is “explores how biological and social pressure conspire to form our personalities.” Sounds cool, but then you do a little more research and find that it is based on evolutionary theory and treats humans as primarily animals– and I don’t say to throw it out completely, I just find it a little confusing (there’s way too many animals!) and a bit sketchy. Anyway…
I meant to direct you to the test created by Dr. Gary Smalley, Christian author and speaker who also wrote The Five Love Languages. He presents four animal types: Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver. I was unable to find an online test, but go here for a pdf. You can print it out or copy text onto a Word document and go through the test. It’s very easy, and it asks you to answer questions based on how you act in one environment, because we all know we tend to act differently at home, work, school, church, etc.
The four animals are simple and yet relatable.
Lion– A natural leader. Strives for goals. Good at overcoming challenge. Can be overly competitive or bossy and hurt people in the process.
Otter– A people person. Very social and influential. Open and positive. However, can have shallow relationships with others and be undisciplined and disorganized.
Golden Retreiver– Very loyal. Very caring. Enjoys deep relationships. Can be indecisive, too soft, or afraid of change or confrontation.
Beaver– Extremely creative and organized. Needs things to be a certain way. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and inflexibility.
As I write these descriptions, I can definitely think of a few Lions and Beavers in my life. Personally, I tested highest with… what do you think? Which of the animals seems most like me? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post!
I think I will have to do a Part 2 of this post because there are SO many other tools to help us know ourselves and how to work well with others. But that’s all they are– tools. The best thing to do to know ourselves and know others is to do just that– through relationships. When we open our lives to others, we will discover things no test could ever reveal.
Benediction- Go, Learn, Grow. Know and be Known.