Watching the crypto market crash (again), I find myself spending a lot of time socializing. Repeatedly, I am running into the reality that everything anyone needs to know about social or professional life they can learn from anime and video games. Reflecting on my past experiences has brought me back to my first internet-love: MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).
This article is not a full introduction to MBTI, I’m assuming you’ve already had your introduction, if not you can take the test here. You will get a result augmented by a T or an A, but ignore that for the purposes of this article.
MBTI provides a subjective framework to describe how others perceive you, which when used correctly, can be insightful. This differs from the way it’s often portrayed online in a place like r/INTJ . Your MBTI type is not a box to be pigeonholed within nor is it a predictive model akin to astrology.
MBTI is more RPG job class than personality theory.
In modern RPGs, there are quite a few RPG job classes that exist, but most RPGs borrow from tabletop/Western RPGS such as Dungeons and Dragons or JRPGs such as Final Fantasy. These games present you with some variation of Monk, Warrior, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage, Paladin, etc.
Much like MBTI, these job classes can be seen as different “types” of characters to play with. In balance, each job class has its own intrinsic strengths and weaknesses which can be leveraged in tandem with other classes to complete quests. Through this lens of “job-class”, we can view the 16 types and their associated stereotypes, with less bias and instead with utility. The silly corners of the internet where people hyper-identify as their type, venting frustrations with their parents and ex boyfriends, while using the types as a proxy, are pure imbecility.
When we view the types through the lens of job-class we find ourselves thinking about the behaviors, the strengths, and the weaknesses of these types in a way that is situational. Similarly, when you think about your own type and the types of those close to you, you realize it’s very possible you’re playing your job class sub-optimally.
Let’s take an example from the simplest RPG I could find: Pokemon.
It wasn’t my intention to use Pokemon as a reference for two articles in a row, but when inspiration strikes–why fight it? Above, you can see the stat table for Alakazam. He is what in video games is referred to as a “glass cannon.” This character has a lot of [special] attacking power, but it has minimal HP (life), physical defenses, and mediocre special defenses.
You don’t need to be familiar with Pokemon to clearly see you need to optimize your move-set for Alakazam’s Sp. Atk stat; this is where Alakazam shines–especially when you consider its speed stat. You want a pokemon that hits first and hits hard because it likely will not be able to survive a return shot. If you based you strategy around Alakazam’s physical attack, hoping to gradually chip away from your opponent’s HP, you would be playing with this pokemon sub-optimally.
When playing games, the decision to optimize for strengths and forego weaknesses is obvious because we’re not too heavily invested. However, when faced with the struggles of reality, this rational decision making flies out the window. We succumb to social pressure and compete for prizes we don’t want. Maybe your character build is ideal for the corporate world, but you really want a spouse and to raise a family. You might have the perfect blend of tenacity, risk tolerance, and creativity to be a professional artist, but you don’t want to disappoint your family so instead you go to medical school.
In life, we all have a character build and a job class.
Maybe you’re very intelligent, decently good looking, but you lack social awareness or physical stature. Maybe you’re good looking and charismatic, but as dumb as a stack of bricks. If we maintain that MBTI is your job class, it’s likely this arose from your intrinsic character build. I’m not going to spend much time arguing about the socio-environmental roots of personality theory, but in this game of life, there is one of sixteen job classes you can find yourself within.
Once you have a firm handle on your job class, you want to surround yourself with party members that make up for your “weaknesses.” If you were playing a mage in a RPG, you would know to have a warrior in your party. The need to make up for your close-range physical attack weakness would be obvious. Similarly, if you’re an ISTJ, you probably have no problem professionally, you’re probably successful to some extent with all the “correct” and “practical” aspects of your life figured out…but maybe you need to bring in someone who brings a little excitement now and again. A controlled amount of chaos. You might need to date an ENFP or have an INFP in your friend group.
Differentiating The Job Classes
The 16 MBTI types have four functions arranged in different orders, the higher up the stack, the more prominent the function is to that type. You can consider the highest function to be the dominant “stat.” Much like Alakazam’s Sp. Atk, this should clue you into your strength as perceived by others. This dominant function paints your experience of the world to the point where it seems tautological. Of course that’s how the world works! This dominant function should seem almost not up for discussion. For this reason, your biggest strength is likely less obvious to you, much like a fish doesn’t notice the water around it, it just breathes.
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
Your dominant function is what you should be optimizing your job class around. When in doubt, operating within this mode will feel the most natural. I’ll use myself as an example. I am an ENTP, the function stack is:
Extrovert Intuition (dominant) (Alakazam’s Sp. Atk)
Introverted Thinking (secondary) (Alakazam’s Speed)
Extroverted Feeling (tertiary) (Alakazam’s Sp Def)
Introverted Sensing (inferior) (Alakazam’s Defense)
Since Extroverted Intuition is the ENTP’s dominant function, they experience a multiplicity of perspectives at base. Often this multiplicity manifests as them appearing to have no deeply held beliefs. They will regularly question “truths,” appearing to be argumentative–often even arguing in defense of positions they don’t believe in. This type of person tends to have many unorthodox opinions, not because they’re trying to be edgy, these alternative perspectives on the same “facts” just generate on their own. The desire to find novel information and perspectives seemingly drives them. As you might imagine, many comedians, talk show hosts, actors, scientists, and philosophers have this personality type.
For the ENTP, as a RPG job class, it would make the most sense for them to build a life around their strengths. They should pursue excitement! Avenues which allow for them to creatively solve problems, view situations from alternative perspectives, and utilize their natural charm. Similarly, they should run as fast as they can from rigid careers, those high in tradition and routine. Since their weakness is Introverted Sensing, it’s very likely they lack self awareness and need to create a complicated RPG analogy in order to gain insight about themselves…or something like that (ha ha).
Is it because the ENTP couldn’t work in an more rigid environment? Yeah, probably. It’s a bad character build. You’re using a hammer to paint a picture.
Do not fight your job class. Work with it, optimize for it. Double down on your strengths.
You’re probably most aware of your secondary function, its likely what you personally define your strength as. The ENTP doesn’t consider themselves to “have varied and unique perspectives, of which they pick up on subconsciously.” No! Sure, they likely understand themselves to have creative perspectives, but more than likely, they consider themselves to be clever/intelligent (Introverted Thinking) and charming (Extroverted Feeling). We often take our biggest strengths for granted.
Perceiving your secondary function as your strength isn’t the worst thing that could happen, but it can spell disaster if you find yourself optimizing for your secondary strength and end up in a situation that is hell for your primary strength.
Anecdotally, this is like me choosing to work as a math teacher. I studied math because I viewed my Introverted Thinking as a strength and my gift of gab as supplement (Extroverted Feeling), but this led me into the education system–the mecca for Introverted Sensing. Creative views on how to implement curriculum were not appreciated. Routine, structure, etc. is what dominated and I quickly found myself to be miserable. This was poor decision making that stemmed coincidentally from a lack of self-awareness (a weakness of Introverted Sensing).
The optimal strategy is to outsource your inferior function
Outsource your weakness and double down on your strengths as Gary Vee says. Interestingly, when you think about Gary Vee, he’s likely an ESTJ. He preaches “being on the offensive,” “hustle,:” etc. This makes perfect sense when you consider his dominant function is Extroverted Thinking. What is the second thing that he preaches? The most common thing Gary Vee says in his videos is “I think my greatest strength is self-awareness,” weird how the secondary function of the ESTJ is Introverted Sensing. Of course he believes self-awareness is his biggest strength! Introverted Sensing is more conscious than Extroverted Thinking is to him. He just operates in the mode of Extroverted Thinking at all times; water around the fish. His weakness? Introverted Feeling. He has a hard time empathizing with others, and understanding how he feels about himself. He seeks his own internal validation and happiness (“Don’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks, are you happy?”) and does so by doubling down on “work,” then working even more and sharing it hoping that his work will allow you to find happiness too. Pretty much textbook ESTJ.
I implore you to do research on successful people of your type/job class, there’s a lot of shitty typing on the internet, but with a little bit of research and time you can probably type people who inspire you and pick up on why they get you going. Much like watching game footage of a star point-guard would improve the ways you played your position, reading biographies, watching documentaries, and studying the work of archetypal members of your job class can only serve to improve the way you play your role.
As a disclaimer, I would like to emphasize you shouldn’t completely ignore your inferior function. In a lot of ways, you are solving for your inferior function at all times. The ENTP, in their search for excitement, is figuring out how the world works and is ultimately codifying their many perspectives into one eternal true perspective of the world. They’re searching for who they are amidst the chaos. The trick instead is to double down on your strengths to solve for your weaknesses. Then, the ways in which your weakness holds you back is to be outsourced to a partner, friend, etc. –your party members.
Under stress, we tend to hyper fixate on our weaknesses; they become both our obsession and what holds us back. Let’s take an INFJ for example. Their strength would be their Introverted Intuition. Taking in immediate sensory data, taking what’s in front of them and extrapolating a “line of best fit.” This provides them, when correct, with what seems like endless and robust insight. A prime example would be Friedrich Nietzsche (likely an INTJ, but same dominant function), able to create timeless works of philosophy that have such depth and relevance a century later. On the flip side, Introverted Intuitive dominants get so wrapped up in their vision of how the world ought to be (i.e. in alignment with their intuition), they often neglect reality staring them in the face. Under stress, they might hyper fixate on the immediate. Hyper fixate on extreme activities that force them to be present (risky behaviors, high octane sports, drugs). Their weakness becomes their preoccupation. Maybe something doesn’t go according to their master vision and the immediacy of the plan failing becomes all they can focus on. “There’s no way I can still get to X, this new obstacle wasn’t accounted for, it’s all over.”
Do not completely ignore your weakness, but always play into your strengths. I’m not going to break down a scenario for every type, but hopefully this serves as food for thought.
Job Class strengths and weaknesses:
ENTP (S: extroverted intuition W: introverted sensing )
INTP (S: introverted thinking W: extroverted feeling )
ESFJ (S: extroverted feeling W: introverted thinking )
ISFJ (S: introverted sensing W: extroverted intuition )
ENTJ (S: extroverted thinking W: introverted feeling )
INTJ (S: introverted intuition W: extroverted sensing )
ESFP (S: extroverted sensing W: introverted intuition )
ISFP (S: introverted feeling W: extroverted thinking )
ENFJ (S: extroverted feeling W: introverted thinking )
INFJ (S: introverted intuition W: extroverted sensing )
ESTP (S: extroverted sensing W: introverted intuition )
ISTP (S: introverted thinking W: extroverted feeling )
ENFP (S: extroverted intuition W: introverted sensing)
INFP (S: introverted feeling W: extroverted thinking )
ESTJ (S: extroverted thinking W: introverted feeling )
ISTJ (S: introverted sensing W: extroverted intuition )