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How To Get From The Front Door To The Car

By Chris McDonough

Somebody (I don't know who) said that an INFP is someone who gets lost between the front door and the car. I am INFP and that statement describes me very well. An INFP will know that the car is the goal but will take so many side-trips (physical, intellectual, and emotional) that the car may never be reached.

You might expect, then, that an INFP would be at a total loss for organizational ability. This isn't true, because the less dominant Thinking and Judging functions can be summoned at need to allow an INFP to perform organizational skills.

Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes is often given as an example of INFP. Calvin seems perfectly normal to me. I don't know why people think he's funny. But I recognize Hobbes, the tiger. He's the aspect that surfaces to deal with practical world. The humour is in the extremes. Most INFPs are somewhere along the middle range of Perception.

It is healthy to summon a recessive trait, to awaken a sleeping tiger, in case of need. It is also healthy to restrain this seemingly new power. Awareness is the key. The business world, in particular, demands Thinking and Judging organizational skills. Under this pressure, an INFP can summon the recessive TJ and place it in the starring role, rather than its natural supporting role. If the role reversal becomes permanent, the cost to personal satisfaction is too high. INFPs in this situation are likely to have success, money, friends, and misery. They gave the whole show to TJ, who is exhausted, while poor FP starves.

Is INFP handicapped, then, in this highly organized world of ours? Not at all! A good example is my own specialty - what office workers call "putting out fires." My INFP plays the major role, flitting from crisis to crisis in true INFP fashion, analyzing and solving them, while my supporting TJ takes notes. I never go anywhere in an office without a notepad. In truth, INFP carries the notepad; TJ writes in it. INFP deals with the issues. TJ makes and reviews the notes, writes the memos, and keeps the records. The unstructured job kept me happy as INFP. It's important to distinguish between the kinds of decisions that I was happy with: they were based on long experience in a complicated field with right answers. I knew the right answers. This isn't the same as making snap decisions in unprecedented situations, which would not be ideal for an INFP at all.

An area where an INFP needs guidance is setting goals. Goals are often built into a job description, which can simplify professional life. On a personal level, however, an INFP might need prodding to set goals and guidance as to priorities. As their first goal, for instance, many people would write "Pay off mortgage." Mine was "Swim with dolphins." Obviously, a nudge from a counselor (or maybe a recessive trait) would be useful. The Intuitive function that is so useful to an INFP must be allowed its input to the goal-setting process. This is why INFP goals may seem a little odd to people who greet the world in a more Sensate manner. The same balance should be allowed in structuring paths to reach goals.

Now that we've set goals and steps to achieve them, we have only to follow the path to the goals. In other words, we have to try to get from the front door to the car. It can be done if INFP is continually hip-checked back onto the path by TJ. However, completely unrelieved attention to goals will result in a very frustrated INFP driving a car that she has come to loathe. No, INFP must take the detours to meet the world through Intuition, to evaluate by Feeling, and to exercise Perception. TJ, with the maps, organizational lists, and pie-charts, must stand aside. At agreed intervals, TJ can bump INFP back onto the path. After many happy detours and returns, INFP will succeed in going from the front door to the car - goal achieved!


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