Success is the achievement of a desired outcome. Whether it’s to become a best selling author or getting the world to leave you alone, success requires actions to achieve those goals. So why do some INFPs get better outcomes then others?
All MBTI preferences have strengths and weaknesses. The strengths move us two steps forward. The weaknesses bring us one step back. Successful INFPs nurture strengths and mitigate weaknesses. Nurturing strengths means improving those qualities that give us the outcomes we want. Mitigating weaknesses means finding ways to compensate for those qualities that move us from our goals.
Whatever it is we want to achieve, INFPs have four qualities that bring us closer to our goals. It’s these qualities if nurtured, bring us better outcomes.
1. INFPs are self-aware.
INFPs know when something we’re doing feels wrong. I may not know if I’m doing it right, but I definitely know if I’m doing it wrong.
Our primary cognitive function Introverted Feeling and our secondary Extroverted Intuition give INFPs an edge to self-awareness. Introverted Feeling means we make decisions about our internal world all the time. Extroverted Intuition means we make those internal world decisions based on our external sixth sense data.
For example, when I was learning a new martial art, I’d observe the black belts. Something about they way the stood, moved and looked gave me a sense of what doing the technique correctly would feel like. When I did the technique, I’d compare how I felt with how I thought it should feel. If I felt off, I’d ask the instructors if I was doing something wrong. Almost always, I was. The wrongness I felt was something basic like my center of gravity being too high or my weight shifted wrong.
Other INFPs have commented that they always know when something is off in their life, even if they don’t know why. Our self-awareness is the reason why I think INFPs learn quickly. We often know right away when we’re doing it wrong so we can correct mistakes.
Successful INFPs nurture the Introverted Feeling function by taking the next step and trusting their gut instincts enough to make changes. When INFPs take action, we know immediately if our gut instinct was right. Knowing if we were right or wrong about our instincts improves our chances of being right the next time.
One caveat: The INFP’s Introverted Feeling is great for decisions about our internal world like deciding the kind of person we want to be. We aren’t so good at decisions about our external world like deciding if someone likes us or deciding what job we want.
However, when our gut instinct is wrong, Success Quality 2 bails us out.
2. INFPs are knowledgeable or excel in at least one thing.
INFPs come off as dilettantes because we’re always trying new things. However, every INFP I know is good at at least one thing. That one thing ranges from writing to photography to programming.
We base our self-worth on that one thing. It’s our anchor in the wild seas of self-confidence. Often, the INFP self-confidence exists on shaky ground. Bad results from day-to-day living knock around our self-confidence. However when bad things happen, it’s harder to knock INFPs completely off.
INFPs have a fall back. We say, okay my life sucks, but at least I can still take a good photo. So my boyfriend/girlfriend dumped me but I’m going to write the best short story from it. That one thing we’re good at gives us an anchor to hold until the storm passes. That anchor keeps INFPs from being knocked off course when bad things happen.
I don’t know any INFPs that go on drinking benders, or sell everything and move to Tibet, or trash our rooms when things don’t work out. INFPs withdraw. INFPs do our one thing. When the storm passes, we realize we aren’t that far off course, pull up anchor and start moving again towards our goals.
Strangely enough, the best way to nurture that one good thing is to be good at another thing also. Anything that constantly bails us out suffers strain. Say you write and your writing is the constant that keeps you going during bad times, eventually that pressure to write to ease stress will leave you with a blank page. If you’re good at more than one thing, you can divide your stress, your self-worth and your need for safe harbor between multiple things.
Bad decisions happen and we can’t keep running away every time something goes bad. So what keeps INFPs from making the same bad decisions? Success Quality 3.
3. INFPs are adaptable without losing sight of our ideals.
Sometimes we get an outcome we didn’t want. Successful personalities adapt quickly.
INFPs get hurt all the time. The reason why INFPs don’t stay hurt forever is because being bored is worse than being hurt. Getting back up and risking a new hurt is more interesting than dwelling on a past hurt. Its one advantage with INFPs being bored easily.
The caveat is the addiction to getting knocked down in order to feel a new hurt. This leads to INFP drama. Unsuccessful INFPs take the same risks and get the same failures. Successful INFPs take better risks to get a better chance of success.
We nurture our adaptability by focusing on our original goals despite failure while taking different actions to produce better outcomes. We stop adapting when we go after different Rewards because we failed at getting what we wanted.
There’s nothing wrong with going from brand new goal to brand new goal, but isn’t it better to be a successful dilettante? Unsuccessful dilettantes try for new Rewards because they couldn’t get the last one. Successful dilettantes try for new rewards because they achieved their last one and realize it wasn’t really what they wanted.
Thankfully, INFP idealism keeps us from wandering aimlessly from goal to goal. Our ideals keeps us to our internal values. We resist becoming someone we’re not.
Keeping the same goals doesn’t mean not trying new things which is Success Quality 4.
4. INFPs are open to the new.
Life is going from one set of problems to a better set of problems. When we first move out, one of the big problems many people encounter is deciding between mac and cheese and Ramen noodles. I don’t think anyone wants to have that problem when they’re forty. You move from mac and cheese to figuring out long-term career goals to deciding how you want to grow older.
Better problems requires two steps, solving the old problem and embracing new problems. Both of which require Success Quality 4. We can’t do the same thing and expect a different result, but we end up doing the same things because we don’t know better. In order to know better, we need new information and new skills.
I don’t know a single INFP that isn’t well-read. INFPs read cross-genre. They may have a favorite, but sci-fi geek INFPs read philosophy and artists INFPs read non-fiction biographies. INFPs take in new ideas. INFPs take in new experiences whether it’s Ethiopian food or learning ballroom dancing. It’s the new that gives us perspective in figuring out better ways to solve old problems.
Even after we’ve solved the old problem, we don’t move forward until we embrace new problems. It’s comforting being able to solve the same problem over and over. However, the same problem keeps us in the same place.
When I was a teenager, living with parents was trying but safe. Dealing with how they wanted me to live my life versus how I saw it, created huge problems. I decided I would live my way and make my own mistakes so I chose different career goals and different activities.
Then I needed to make a new choice. I could I continue living with my parents, rehashing and resolving old problems about doing things their way or I could embrace new problems like moving out and figuring out if I preferred mac and cheese over Ramen noodles. So at 19, I decided the mac and cheese problem was a much better problem.
Embracing the new is scary, but we nurture our openness to the new by doing something new. Every week, I start a conversation with someone I don’t know. It’s daunting for me, but you know what’s great about the new. It’s not boring.