Instead of asking whether someone is gritty, we should ask them when they are. — David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
I’m trained as a Myers Briggs practitioner. That means I know how to administer and interpret the Myers Briggs personality inventory. I know the sixteen type preferences and I know the history and research behind the inventory. Myers Briggs purports that our nature is innate.
Admittedly, personality types from Myers Briggs run through my head when I meet someone new. I know a fellow INFJ or INFP when I meet one. I have become good at spotting ISTPs, ESTJs, ISTJs and ENFJs.
I have not administered or taken one of their inventories in years.
Attachment theory influences personality
Researching and applying attachment theory in my writing and coaching, taught me there are other ways to shape someone’s personality. Our early relationships forever influence our behavior and ability to connect (attach) with others. An avoidantly attached person exhibits self-reliance and autonomy a great deal because they have had to take care of themselves for years. They may come off as aloof or reserved (i.e. introverted). An anxiously attached person exhibits a need to be with others consistently because their parents were inconsistent with their care. They may seem more people focused and extroverted.
Sensitivity is innate
One important note, it seems most research agrees that sensitivity is inherited. Our nervous systems’ level of sensitivity comes wired into us at birth. Therefore, we may react more strongly to certain stimuli, which may influence our behavior and demeanor.
Time and place
Through personal experience and personal narratives told to me by coaching clients, I’ve seen people’s (including mine) natures change based on maturity and situation. Career researchers Ogi Ogas and Todd Rose call this “context principle”, which means “At a given point in life, an individual’s nature influences how they respond to a particular situation, but their nature can appear surprisingly different in some other situation.”
For example, I am quite reserved and spend more time listening at a networking event for business people, but when I am with a group of writers, I am quite extroverted; I ask questions, voice my opinion, come up with ideas, etc. To home in more on the context principle, when my dad was younger, he spent almost every day working with customers in a retail store. He enjoyed the socializing. Now as an older man, he truly enjoys the quiet of his rural home where some days he only sees his wife.
Base our career choice on our personality?
Returning to the quote at the top of the page about grit, it seems to me we all have grit or savvy or extroversion in areas we feel secure, strong and happy. We may also appear quiet, serious or uptight in spaces where we feel unsure and unhappy. Those areas for the different personality traits may change over time. Which makes it difficult, according to researchers Ogas and Rose, for young people to choose a high quality match for a career. Which does not mean they should not seek a career path. It simply means they may craft their career and personalities over time and with experience.
Have you noticed any significant changes to your personality over the years? Where are you more extroverted? More introverted?
If you would like to learn more about how your or your partner’s temperament was shaped and how to work with it, take my online course titled: Is It Introversion or Insecure Attachment?