Rafe Montello, ENTJ
Further Investigation of the MBTI ®
I furthered my enquiry by taking the MBTI-Step II, which breaks down each preference into five subscales. The MBTI-Step II more fully explained my type code, in part, because it broke each preference down into subscales that were examined individually, but also because each preference and each subscale was given a score.
While I score almost to "very clear" in Intuition, I score "very slight" in Thinking. My strong preference for "accepting" on the critical/accepting subscale of the Thinking preference places me "out of preference," as "accepting" is considered a Feeling attribute. This out of preference placement revealed by the subscales is even more pronounced when it comes to my score in Judging/Perceiving. Even though overall I score in Judgment, I measure both "casual" and "pressure prompted" on the subscales, both of which, reflect the Perceiving preference. Because the MBTI-Step II put a fine point on exactly what kind of ENTJ I am, it helped to resolve my concerns about the issues surrounding the categorization aspect of the Myers-Briggs.
The last part of my enquiry and the most important came through the personal interpretation and guidance I received from Ross Reinhold, a seasoned practitioner. While some people may be able to gain a clear understanding of the MBTI from reading and attending workshops, nothing can compare to a knowledgeable practitioner who can answer individual question. Ross not only clarified my questions, but also directed my understanding to a deeper level. As soon as I thought I understood something, he challenged me to see the next level. I thank you.
Ross helped me to see that we have both natures of a preference. We just prefer to use one over the other. Somewhat like we have two hands. In addition, situations can highly influence preference choice. Who, in the throes of falling in love, especially for the first time, would not make a decision about the relationship relying on the Feeling preference? Another point he helped me to see is that just because someone has a clear Thinking preference, for example, is no indication of how good they are at using it. Someone who prefers relying more on feeling qualities to come to a decision could be a much better thinker than someone who has a clear Thinking preference.
The result of this research was a much better understanding of what the MBTI is capable of and why it is such an invaluable tool in understanding the self and others. Another result is I now believe that without an adequate understanding of how to interpret the inventory, using it will likely cause more confusion than clarity. At the very least, it may stop someone from looking into a useful tool for personal growth and improved communication leading to more meaningful relationships.
How Did the MBTI ® Change My Life?
So, after all this research, how did the MBTI change my life? It is, of course, an ongoing process and I consider myself a novice, but I learned how my strong propensity for competency (remember my interest in self-actualization?) and very clear preference for Intuition was negatively affecting my business. My agency, We're Cooking Now, uses cooking classes to provide experiences leading to personal growth. From workplace training and weight management to youth development and public demonstrations, I lead my students to higher levels of performance through the rich, multisensory medium of cooking instruction. In order to succeed, I must be able to connect with a wide number of people. What I learned changed how I conduct business in three ways.
The first way centered on how I teach cooking from a conceptual framework. I learned that my approach is more a function of my cognitive style (i.e., being an NT) than that it is the best way to teach cooking to all types of people. In my classes, I downplayed recipes in favor of technique. I feel that if students know what ingredients and methods do in a recipe, they will be more confident and relaxed in the kitchen and be better cooks. While this may be true for some people and, ultimately, may be true for all people, the larger point is that if students shut down to a teacher or an approach, they learn nothing. In my case, I lose clients. I once had three students walk out of a class because I was demonstrating the intricacies of trimming and cutting scallions. It never occurred to me that some people (types) just don't care about making the best food as much as they want to get cooking. For these types, following recipes is what it is about. As the most sacrosanct rule of business is to give customers what they want, I have altered my approach to focus on the recipe, at least, until students who want a conceptual framework make themselves known.
The second way is an extension of the first. Often I would spend almost the first hour of a class talking about the crucial points of a recipe so that students would have a higher likelihood of making the dish correctly. Evaluations I received would often comment about this "waste of time." I automatically discounted these comments as the ramblings of idiots. What other way was there to increase the likelihood students got it right the first time? It never occurred to me that for many students my explanations made little sense, because they didn't know enough about cooking technique to make sense of the finer points. Many students don't care as much about the recipe turning out well, as much as they care about having fun cooking. While I recognize the importance of fun while cooking, I have always though it more important that the recipes turn out right. But in business, it's not about what "I" think. So now I spend no more than 10 minutes talking about the recipes before jumping into the class. This means I have to be more aware of what students are doing so I can show them the best way before a mistake is made or, if a mistake is made, congratulate them for learning what not to do.
The third way I changed how I do business had to do with how I market my programs. Clients interested in weight management, for example, are likely not the same clients interested in youth development or the same clients interested in workplace training. While the common thread is personal growth, different types define personal growth differently. One approach I have used to market my weight management program is that on the road to personal mastery what we eat provides a perfect feedback loop for our progress on that journey, or as I say on one of my flyers:
"As one increases personal mastery, she or he has the power to exercise greater control over what is eaten; as one controls what is eaten, personal mastery increases."
But, of course, this focus on personal mastery is an extension of my interest in self-actualization or competency. Not everyone shares the same interest. For some, adequate is good enough. I am now developing promotions focusing on different aspects of the program that will appeal to different type codes and see which one draws the highest rate of response. While personal mastery will be among them, I will also develop unique promotions based on the social support and fellowship, nutritional knowledge, cooking, and so on that are part of the class.
While the MBTI does not purport to be able to do everything-it cannot tell you how sensitive or courageous someone is-it can do quite a lot. Problems in my teaching I have struggled with for years were cleared up in a short time once I learned the MBTI framework for understanding them. For those new to the MBTI, I would suggest two things. First, find someone who is knowledgeable to mentor you. Second, try to suspend judgments about the MBTI until you have gained a thorough understanding. It is better, to reserve judgment than come to the wrong one because of a lack of knowledge.
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