The Test Results Are In…

As if my personality could be contained by letters, numbers, and lines!

Though driving ten hours both ways in a mini-van with five other guys and then spending a week with twenty other men can be an experience in and of itself… there was a more practical agenda to our trip to Cincinnati: Inner reflection and community life. Led by Br. Tim Lamb, OFM, we spent the week taking personality tests and analyzing the results so that we could better know ourselves and our brothers. Here’s what I found out about myself:

Myers-Briggs: Of the 16 possible personality types, mine is INFJ, meaning that I’m introverted, tend to look at the big picture rather than the details, act more subjectively than objectively, and prefer a plan rather than “play it by ear.” I’m told that INFJ’s are driven by their values and take great stock in their insights, leading them to be outspoken about meaningful topics. With a strong compassion for others, IN’s are a bit more inclined to reading people than others, and are good as leading by persuasion. Combined with the emphasis on planning, INFJ’s are usually seen as visionaries that seek social change, for better or for worse (I’ve seen both Ghandi and Hitler as famous INFJ’s). My favorite description of this personality type is that of a “friendly antagonist,” something that I’m sure many of you that know me will find very entertaining.

FIRO-B: The three pairs of numbers on the bottom of the page represent my expressed and desired amounts of Inclusion, Control, and Affection. The first thing you’ll notice is that I changed my control scores to make them higher. Typical… and ironic. Like most, I have a need for affection but am very hesitant to show it, and have a high desire to be included in others’ plans, whether I have to make the first move or not.

Leadership Matrix: The final test is depicted by the zigzag line in the center. Based on four categories, Assertiveness, Sociability, Emotional Response (to change), and Readjustment (or how much outer authority is preferred), the scale ranges from Low to High based on one’s preferred leadership style, with the red line representing work and the black line representing home. The high A suggests that I like to take control, but the even higher S means that I do it in a persuasive, rather than dominating, way. I’m confortable with change, but am more willing to look to the authority of others before acting.

Though I find these results to be fairly accurate to my own perception of self, I think it’s important when taking them to remember that they’re only an outward expression, even symptom, of a much more complex inner self. To use these results as a form of categorization or even limitation of relationships would be of no service to anyone. To prevent this sort of thing from happening, it’s important that we use the results as a very basic first step in truly getting to know ourselves and our communities. The better questions might be: Why am I driven by my intuition rather than my senses? Why do I find it difficult to be in situations without a clear plan or leader? Why am I hesitant to show affection but have no problem receiving it? If we don’t move beyond the simple “what” of these results into a relationship that seeks to know “why” a person scores the way they do, we are living a superficial relationship at best, and risk limiting our relationships to boxes and easy categorizations at worst.

For us in community, the test results are in: how are we going to use them? How would Francis use them?

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One Comment on “The Test Results Are In…

  1. Myers-Briggs is a telling self-reflection. I remember getting ISTJ when I took it some years ago. I like your questions at the end because sometimes it is helpful just to ask why. Your spiritual journey continues to inspire me, Casey. Many thanks!

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