I’d pushed my luck trying to make it in Advanced Trigonometry. The litany of formulas, sines, and cosines had finally gotten to me. Confused and bewildered, I turned to my friend, Tim. “How do you do this?” I asked.
Tim looked up, smirked, and replied: “Do you want the strategy Mr. Peters taught us, the fun one I made up, or the shortcut?” I couldn’t even understand one strategy, and he was making up new ones!
During his senior year of high school, Tim registered for the Advanced Placement Physics test, wanting to earn college credits. Unfortunately, his teacher accidentally signed him up for the wrong version of the test. When the test day rolled around and Tim received his assessment book, he didn’t recognize the problems or formulas, but he went to work anyway and ended up doing well enough to pass and earn the credits he’d wanted.
Tim excelled in academic environments and garnered some of the highest accolades without even fully applying himself. When I learned that Tim is an INTJ personality type, everything started to make sense.
Are you an INTJ personality type? Taken as a whole, here are five signs that you are.
1. You make decisions using logic, data, and cold, hard facts.
What you’ll notice first about an INTJ is his or her logical mind. While not all INTJs are born mathematicians like my friend Tim, they all express their thoughts via Extroverted Thinking (Te). Te is a mindset, or cognitive function, that’s first and foremost concerned with the cold, hard facts. It’s unbiased, data-driven, and efficient. When INTJs harness Te and combine it with their intuition, they can design a strategic process, organizational hierarchy, or system better than anyone in the business.
My educational psychology professor was an INTJ, and the system he designed was his course. Like a true intuitive, he’d reverse-engineered his lessons and our assignments by starting with the end goal, what he wanted us to learn, and working backward. The syllabus, lesson plans, homework, and assessments—everything—were thoughtfully and logically woven together. I’d never taken a class that made so much sense before in my whole life.
INTJs use their logical minds to solve simple problems, too. One INTJ I met organized his dorm room to keep uninvited guests from disturbing his privacy. He sketched out a diagram and turned his bed, dresser, desk, and whatever else was available in the room into a natural barricade.
2. You’re a walking library on the topics that interest you.
When an INTJ lets you into his or her world, you’ll gain a new appreciation for his or her genius. INTJs are among the most well-researched, resourceful people on the planet. They’re walking libraries on the topics that interest them, and they’ll spend hours devouring books, courses, podcasts, and internet articles when given the opportunity.
This is largely because an INTJ’s dominant mindset is Introverted Intuition (Ni), which thirsts for knowledge and seeks to understand the world and why it works the way it does. Ni users thrive when they have opportunities to focus for extended periods of time on one subject, and INTJs are no exception. It’s a small wonder that many of them are experts in their subject area.
While INTJs have wide and varied interests, many enjoy reading up on the latest tech gear, researching personal development, learning computer science, following the stock market, studying psychology, and interpreting what’s happening in the political world.
INTJs generally excel in math and the sciences. Some make great writers, theorists, and even artists. But all INTJs are thinkers, which explains why many end up with jobs in academia or as CFOs or COOs.
3. Your creative, intuitive nature makes you an idea machine.
INTJs see patterns and possibilities that the rest of the world misses. This is true of one of my INTJ blogger friends. She loves to review her blog traffic statistics and split test different Facebook ads. When she’s analyzing and interpreting data and using it to project future trends and possibilities, she’s at her best.
But there’s another side to her, one that comes alive when she’s writing blog posts. She loves to create and innovate, and this is true of most INTJs. Their Ni makes them veritable idea machines. They love to have a hand in launching a new business venture or introducing a new system, and they are constantly thinking of ways to do things better.
INTJs’ intuition and creativity show up in other ways, too. Some INTJs are gamers who develop detailed virtual worlds. They focus less on logic and numbers and more on storyboarding and imagining.
I recently learned that my childhood neighbor is a professional set designer for a large theater in our area. He harnesses his creativity and computer animation skills to craft detailed stage setups. When an INTJ pairs his or her Ni with Extroverted Sensing (Se), he or she can be an adept artist with an eye for beauty.
4. You have high standards for yourself and others.
Like all NT personality types, INTJs demand competence from themselves and others. They have little patience and tolerance for anyone who doesn’t take his or her work seriously, and they expect others to strive for excellence. Because of this desire, INTJs sometimes come across as critical and insensitive, but it’s important to remember they hold themselves to the same high standards.
And to their credit, while some INTJs may be overly critical, they’re exceptionally open to feedback from others. They seldom take it personally but, instead, listen and use whatever they think is helpful to improve their already formidable skills and abilities.
5. You secretly have a sensitive, thoughtful side.
While INTJs sometimes get a bad rap for being critical, they have a sensitive, considerate side too—especially with close friends. INTJs can be some of the most attentive listeners you’ll ever find. And when you’re ready for it, they’ll give you honest, objective feedback.
Other times, they’re just fun to be around. The same psychology professor I mentioned earlier took time out of his busy schedule to visit my dorm room and teach me how to tie flies for fly fishing. He also showed me how to cast and included me in his fly fishing trips both near and far. I knew he was smart, but I soon learned that he was super thoughtful—and a mean cook with a dutch oven.
Befriend a quality INTJ, and you won’t regret it.
Still not sure of your personality type? Knowing your personality type can help you leverage your natural strengths—and grow. Take a free personality assessment here.
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