Putting Insights to Good Use: The INTJ Personality Type

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Although they may come across as archetypal bookworms, INTJ personalities want to do more than just understand complex concepts: they want to apply their intuitive insights and radical ideas to make the world a better place.

I’ve previously written a couple of articles on some of the introverted intuitive personality types as categorized by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:

And just recently I wrote about the INFJ type, those extremely rare, creative individuals who often use their talents to make a real difference in the world: “Committed to Making a Difference: The INFJ Personality Type”. But there’s one more introverted intuitive type — again, a relatively rare type — the INTJ, and because so many of our best scientists and technological innovators are thought to have this type of personality I thought it worth taking a closer look at its principal characteristics.

INTJ personalities sometimes come across as aloof intellectuals. They can be the archetypal “bookworms.” But they are generally not content to merely take refuge in a world of ideas. They want to do more than just comprehend the complex concepts that interest them. What they really want is to apply what they’ve come to understand for the betterment of all. They’re prone to concocting elaborate plans, and as “judging” types, they often have the organizational capacity to see those plans through to fruition. They tend to be both methodical and perfectionistic, and they have the drive to put their ideas into action and the persistence to realize their dreams.

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Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend just where an INTJ type is coming from when they try to communicate their ideas. While you might readily recognize their intelligence and insightfulness, you might not be able to appreciate how they want to go about implementing things because they tend to be unconventional in both their approach and methodology. But they also tend to be good strategists, and even though they tend to want to work alone, when given a leadership role, they can easily shine. That’s because they have the courage of their convictions, have a good sense of where they want to go, and because it means so much to them to see their objectives realized, no matter what organizational system they’re working in, they’ll generally do what it takes to make things work out well.

Again, INTJs tend to be more than idle thinkers. They’re nose-to-the grindstone types who are prepared to do what it takes make a project succeed. Because they are so inwardly focused on their ideas and plans, they might tend to come across as either oblivious to or disregarding of the feelings of those with whom they might be working. It’s not that they’re insensitive, as anyone who might challenge their way of doing things is likely to quickly find out. It’s just that as primarily “thinking” types, they’re not all that good at getting in touch with or expressing their feelings to others. They can also come across as Mr. Spock-like characters — referring to the recently deceased Leonard Nimoy’s half-Vulcan Star Trek character, known for placing reason over emotion — because of their seeming intolerance for opinions that are primarily passion-based as opposed to logically derived. INTJs can also sometimes come across as more than merely self-confident and may display a fair degree of intolerance for those who don’t seem to recognize with merits of their ideas or plans. (Recently I watched the movie Imitation Game, the real life story of scientist Alan Turing, who dared to believe — and in the process alienated many co-workers who thought his idea terribly far-fetched — that only a machine, which he himself proposed to design and build, could do what a top-notch team of scientists had been unable to do for months: break the Nazi regime’s ENIGMA war code. As I watched, I remember wondering to myself whether one of the earliest pioneers of a contraption we presently call a “computer” was perhaps in fact an INTJ personality type.) Because they tend to be unorthodox in their approach, and because they tend to be so unwavering in their intuitive convictions, others may see these archetypal “thinking outside the box” types as simply unreasonable or even irrational at times. But they have a knack for making believers out of folks, because once they lock onto an idea, while they might have to do some revising along the way, they generally persist with their plans until they get the results they’re after.

It would be fair to assume that we owe much of the technological innovations we take so much for granted these days to the vision, dedication, and organizational capacity of INTJ types. Striving to put their intuitive insights and radical ideas to good, practical use, these types have undoubtedly helped make the world a better place.

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