Every now and then I ask myself why have I devoted so much time and effort to the study and applications of personality type information. It is almost an obsession. It is definitely a life work. So here is my story.
I grew up in the 1950’s in a small farming community in Kansas, population 1100. 134 in my high school and 28 in my graduating class. 27 graduated. Like most young girls, I was going to be a nurse, then I took a one semester psychology class and knew I wanted to be a psychologist. I was fascinated with why people do what they do and my friends often confided in me. But really, mostly I felt like a misfit, as many teenagers do. I got good grades, was a president or an officer in every school organization except Future Farmers. I played in the band and was the head drummer for 6 years, starting in sixth grade. Yet I never seemed to find ‘my people.’
In 1962 I went off to college and it was harder than I thought it would be. I lost a scholarship, but gained a husband. We married after he graduated and we moved to California. I continued in school, but I felt like a misfit with the socializing we did. As time moved on, I continued to feel ‘defective.’ After 3 years in California we lived in Belgium, which was great for me with my degree in French, but I never felt like I measured up to the other expat wives in our circle. I didn’t ‘get’ the social rules. And there was always something missing—some yearning within me as well. After a second stay in Belgium and Germany, we came back to the states with our 11 month old son and bought a house. I still felt defective talking to my neighbors while our children played.
Then I decided to go back to school and get a Masters in Counseling. I landed up in a program architected by David Keirsey AND I found out there were other people like me. I was okay just the way I was, just different from the cultural stereotypes of what a woman should be. David taught us the 4 different ways people go crazy based on Ernst Kretchmer’s work from the 1920’s and also what these same temperaments would look like when they were functioning well. I took the MBTI® Form F, learned about type and learned even more about Keirsey’s Temperament theory. I also learned about what different therapists like Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and many more did in their work. So I had some ways to develop skills and also to see things through multiple lenses.
The energy release of my discovery of my innate INTP self from trying to be an ESTJ or ESFJ was phenomenal and here 40 years later, I’m still in love with learning more and more about myself and others through these lenses and others. I’ve even discovered a few new lenses and all of them have this transformative power.
So I do what I do because I am driven to help others (and organizations) release their own untapped potential, help people understand themselves and others, give them a language to describe those differences, improve communications and relationships, and in the end help change the world.
However, it isn’t just the models, it is the method that makes a big difference. One of my early lessons was that the MBTI® instrument alone is not enough. Of most importance is how type information is shared with others. It cannot be a label, but in needs to open the door to human agility so we can leverage our differences and make conflict productive. It needs to open the door to self-acceptance and development. Now it is more than Temperament or even type. It is the CORE Approach that I want to share with the world for what it has helped me do and be. The power of recognizing individual differences is amazing and if my elementary and high school systems had recognized these and many other differences, there would have been 28 people graduating, but that is a story for another time.
All that being said, I still have times when I feel a little defective, especially when I find myself doing stuff I’m not well suited for or that are a stretch. But now I have an understanding of what is going on and why so I can get out of it quicker. I am in this for the very long haul. I don’t intend to retire and I find my energy is highest when I’m consulting or training or co-creating materials and models. That is enough to make me stay in it and I hope you join me on the journey. I want that same energy release for everyone.