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    Discovering Your Personality Type

    Excerpted from
    Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type
    By Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron-Tieger

    In this chapter you'll learn how Personality Type works, and, even better, you'll discover your own personality type. But before we assist you in identifying your type, we think it would be helpful for you to know something about how Type has come to be used by so many people in so many different ways.

    A Brief History of Personality Type

    The concept of Personality Type owes its existence to the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and two American women, Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. Jung, an eclectic psychoanalyst and disciple of Sigmund Freud, realized that behavior that seemed unpredictable could in fact be anticipated if one understood the underlying mental functions and attitudes people preferred.

    While Jung was making his discoveries, Katharine Briggs, who had long been intrigued with similarities and differences between human personalities, began to develop her own system for "typing" people. In 1921, Jung's theory of personality was published in a book called Psychological Types. When Katharine read the English translation published in 1923, she realized that Jung had already discovered what she had been looking for, so she adopted his model and began a serious study of his work. Fortunately for us, she interested her young daughter Isabel in her pursuit.

    The study of Personality Type, and the discussion of the subject in this book, owe a substantial debt to the pioneering research and writing of Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. Myers and Briggs built upon the theoretical work related to type done by Carl Jung, and both expanded it and gave it a practical application. Jung posited that there existed three personality preference scales and eight personality types; Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers determined, based on their many years of study, that there were four personality preference scales and sixteen distinct personality types. These are the sixteen personality types which we discuss in this book. Much of our discussion derives from the writings of Isabel Briggs Myers and other authors, who, like her, are published by Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. Certain material and quotations contained in this book are published with the permission of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

    Starting in the 1940s, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers began developing the MBTI test instrument, a detailed test to measure psychological type, which has been refined and improved over the years. Moreover, data from the MBTI test has been collected and analyzed from the time the test was first given, providing scientific validation for the MBTI test and the results it yields.

    As Isabel Briggs Myers determined, and as our experience has verified over and over again, there are sixteen different personality types, and every person fits into one of them. This is not to say that people are not all unique, for they certainly are. One hundred people of the same personality type in a room would all be different because they have different parents, genes, experiences, interests, and so on. But they would also have a tremendous amount in common. Identifying your personality type helps you discover and learn how to take advantage of that commonality.

    As you become more familiar with Type, you'll see that all personality types are equally valuable, with inherent strengths and blind spots. There are no better or worse, smarter or duller, healthier or sicker types. Type does not determine intelligence or predict success, nor does it indicate how well adjusted anyone will be. It does, however, help us discover what best motivates and energizes each of us as individuals, and this in turn empowers us to seek these elements in the work we choose to do.

    How to Determine Your Personality Type

    As we discussed earlier, one way to determine your personality type is to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument and have the results interpreted by a trained professional. However, since that is not practical for the purposes of this book, we offer another method that we have used to successfully help hundreds of clients discover their true types.

    The first of this two-step process begins with reading the following section in which we describe each of the four dimensions of Personality Type.

    As you read about each type dimension, think about which preference sounds more like you. Most of what you read about your preference will ring true for you, but remember, the preferences are generalities and represent the extremes. Try to focus not on isolated examples of each preference, but rather on a pattern of behavior that is more consistently like you than its opposite. Even if one example sounds just like you, see how you feel about all the others before making up your mind.

    At the end of the discussion of each dimension you'll find a continuum (or scale). Please place a check mark along the continuum at the point which you think most accurately reflects how strong your preference is. The closer your mark is to the center of the scale (on either side), the less clear your preference is; the farther away your mark is, the stronger your preference is. Even if you are not certain of your preference, try to indicate if you can which side of the midpoint you probably fall on, because what is most helpful in determining your type is which side of each scale you prefer, not how clear or unclear your preference is.

    By "estimating" your type preference for each of the four type dimensions in this way, you will end up with a four-letter code. For most of you, that code will represent your personality type, or one that is very close to it. Toward the end of this chapter, we will provide a space for you to record the letters of your type code.

    The second step in identifying your type comes after you've read the descriptions of the preferences and made your estimates. But that happens just a little later on. Now it's time to learn about Personality Type.

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