Entries Tagged as "Relationships"

Peter Myers: In Memoriam

Peter Briggs Myers, a physicist and co-owner and developer of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), a widely used personality type assessment, died peacefully at age 91, surrounded by family members in St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Towson, Maryland on February 17th. He was a truly gifted man with a generous heart. Those of us who knew and loved him will sorely miss his insight, wisdom and caring.

Peter Myers

Mr. Myers, a Rhodes scholar who held a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Oxford, was the son of Clarence Gates Myers and Isabel Briggs Myers. Isabel and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument as a practical application of the personality type theory of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, beginning their work in the 1940s.

When Isabel Myers died in 1980, she left the copyright to the MBTI to her son Peter and his then wife, Katharine Downing Myers. At the time of Isabel Myers’s death, the instrument was not yet widely known although she had worked on its development for more than forty years with support from the Educational Testing Service.

Peter and Katharine spent the next several decades ensuring the scientific rigor and overseeing the continued development of the assessment, along with the publisher CPP, Inc., now based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Today the MBTI instrument has been taken by millions of people around the world to help them better understand themselves and others and is in use by 88 of the Fortune 100 companies. The instrument has been translated into more than 25 languages and its use overseas has grown rapidly including Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

Peter and Katharine helped to fund the Center for Applications for Psychological Type® (CAPT®), in Gainesville, Florida, a nonprofit started by Isabel Myers and a colleague and it continues to provide research and training in the use of the MBTI. They also established a non-profit, the Myers & Briggs Foundation that funds research on type and its application.

Imposing, at 6’4” tall with a soft measured voice and a slow speaking delivery, Peter often gave speeches on type at conferences and worked closely with the publisher of the MBTI well into his eighties.

He was born on April 24, 1926. He enrolled in George Washington University before enrolling in a Navy program for engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He spent seven months on a Navy submarine, the USS Sanborn, and later entered Oxford as a Rhodes scholar in September, earning his doctorate in nuclear physics from Oxford in 1950.

He was highly influenced by his maternal grandfather, Lyman J. Briggs, who served as a scientific advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt and was appointed director of the National Bureau of Standards by Roosevelt in 1933. Roosevelt also appointed Lyman Briggs as chair of an Advisory Committee on Uranium, linked to the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb.

Peter married Elizabeth “Betty” Monk on July 28, 1948 and began work as a physicist on transistors and semiconductor devices in the Switching Research Department of the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. The couple later moved to southern California where Peter was employed by Magnavox Research Laboratories for more than ten years, working on radio and satellite navigation. They divorced in 1971.

Peter soon married Katharine Downing Heisler, his high school sweetheart, and moved to the Washington area where he had been reassigned by Magnavox. He then joined the National Academy of Sciences, where he served as Bureau Director of Radioactive Waste Management. In that capacity, he headed a scientific committee to determine long-term storage of radioactive waste, retiring in his early 70s. When his mother developed cancer, Peter Myers helped author her main book on type, “Gifts Differing.” The book offers an in-depth explanation of the MBTI’s 16 personality types. He also cared for his father, known as “Chief”, a partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Duane, Morris and Heckscher.

An avid sailor, Peter grew up sailing on Lake George in upstate New York and in recent years, sailed on his beloved wooden ketch, “Sea Cloud.” He loved the wilderness: He was an Eagle Scout as a youth and for many years was a Sierra Club leader, leading many river trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He contributed generously to multiple charities throughout his life and is leaving a large bequest to Oxford University.

He once rescued Albert Einstein on Saranac Lake in Massachusetts, as described in Katharine and Isabel, Mother’s Light, Daughter’s Journey, The Story of the Making of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator by Frances Wright Saunders. Peter had taken a canoe out on the lake when the water became choppy and he noticed a small sailboat with a single sailor who was desperately trying to lower the sail.

Peter paddled up next to the man and held the tiller, allowing the man to lower the sail. When the man turned around, he realized to his delight it was his hero Albert Einstein. Peter paddled both of them to shore with Einstein holding the bow of the canoe after which Einstein invited him back to their cottage to dry out and have a cup of tea. Einstein turned out to know Peter’s grandfather, the physicist Lyman J. Briggs.

Peter Myers

Peter leaves behind his son, Jonathan Briggs Myers, a coffee grower in Hawaii, and two daughters, Jennifer Myers Yerkes, a homemaker, and Michele Heisler, a physician and professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also leaves three stepchildren, Roly, Hugh and Katie Heisler, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

His niece and nephew, Kathleen Hughes, a freelance writer and former staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Douglas Hughes, a lawyer, also survive him. They are the children of Peter’s sister, Ann Myers Hughes, who died in 1972. He is also survived by his partner, Jane “Emma” Mannes, who lived with him in his last years at Blakehurst Retirement Center in Towson, Maryland.

 

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Dealing with Loss…with Death

I just got the news…another friend has died. Patricia was an ENTP who was raised in the foster care system in England.  At one point, an ad was put in the newspaper, “Difficult child needs academic home.”  She got one and became both a brilliant architect and a brilliant judge.  Yes, ENTPs do change jobs and careers more than any other type.

I’m also in the midst of planning a memorial service for my Dad, an INTJ who died at the age of 102 and who had the satisfaction of seeing many of his ideas on nutrition finally accepted as correct.  Yes, INTJs have the longest future-orientation of the 16 types; he knew trans fats were bad back in the 1950s and he hung on long enough for others, including the FDA, to see that as well. (See my article, Lessons Learned from my INTJ Father. You may also search for his name, Fred A. Kummerow, and read his obituaries in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune.)

Synchronicity appears once again in my life - I attended a conference recently in which one of the presentations was on Grief and Loss. The presenter was Timothy S. Hartshorne, a professor at Central Michigan University and a college classmate of mine many years ago. 

As he pointed out, “learning how to deal with loss is what life is all about.”  Our life is a series of losses, some small (my doll broke) and some large (my Father died).  You cannot escape loss.

Tim continued:

  • Grief is a journey
  • Grief is individual
  • Certain emotions predominate
  • No one describes it the same way.


He pointed out that healing:

  • Is a long-term process that culminates not as a return to a pre-grief state, but as a growth process
  • Includes thinking of the person without pain but not without sadness


He adds: “Asking when mourning is finished is a little like asking how high “up” is – there is no answer.” *

If you are in a work setting, think about how much time off a grieving person needs and the level of support you can provide.  Be aware that the return to work may be difficult and check on what might be helpful.  Be aware that there may be questions related to meaning and motivation at work.

With friends, the feeling may be of wondering if anyone really understands what you are going through.  And your friends may be wondering what to say and not to say. 

Many people feel awkward about bringing up a death, being afraid to say the wrong thing or to make the survivors sad.  They are already sad. 

Say something to the person: bring it up.  Share a memory, a story about the person. Ask for a story.  Tell what the person meant to you.  Watch the non-verbal signs - they will give you clues for how far to go.  You are likely to be forgiven even if you stumble.

However, please don’t say things like, “It is better now that they are no longer suffering.”  Or “They are in a better place now.”  “It’s part of God’s plan.”  “Cheer up.” 

And with your partner or spouse, figure out how to support one another.  Be aware that there may be changes in the relationship. 

How does one learn to cope with grief?

  • You experience it
  • You get support from others
  • You tell your tale
  • And you might go to therapy


Tim looks at each year of grieving in these terms:

  • Year 1: A year of firsts and disbelief
  • Year 2: A sinking in and coping with the reality of the loss
  • Year 3: Getting used to it and good at it
  • Year 4: Starting to move on
  • Year 5: Healing over the wounds


Life goes on.  I have been blessed with wonderful parents and wonderful friends.  I have lots of memories to sustain me.  And I will experience many more losses in my life, and hopefully get through them, never expecting to get over them. 


 * From Worden, William J. (2002) Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy; A handbook for the mental health practitioner. Springer Pub.

 

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Preparing for the Rio Olympics!

I’m going to the Olympics in Rio! I had the opportunity to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so this one will be an interesting contrast.

How do I prepare as an ESTJ?  As you know, preparation is pretty important to people of my type!

Part of travelling is learning what I really need and when to just let go.  Long ago, I made it part of my routine to acknowledge that I would inevitably forget something or need something I never thought of packing.  My goal is to figure out what that is as soon as possible and to logically analyze where and how to get it! 

There is my somewhat cautious SJ side that says watch out for mosquitoes, robbers, and bad water, etc.  I hope to handle those negative possibilities with a bit of preparation along with actions to minimize my risks – take mosquito repellent, carry only small amounts of cash, drink bottled water and bring antibiotics, just in case.

There is my Extraverted side – so much to do and so much to see.  I need to make sure I don’t get worn out.

There’s my ESTJ "take charge" side. I’ll be travelling with several others and I need to remember to take other’s needs into account.  I can’t order them around and expect to build relationships.  Luckily the tickets we already have will do some of that structuring for us!

The Olympics is all about organization, something I love. I’m fascinated by how others structure events.  At the Olympic track and field venue, there is a timetable that is rigorously applied; huge timers are always counting out the number of minutes and seconds until the next track and field event starts.  It will be interesting to see how the Latin culture handles the time issue.

I really don’t follow sports that much.  For me, watching the field workers set up the events sometimes is more interesting than the actual events. 

For example, with all those throwing events (hammer, discus, javelin) I don’t know good form from bad form.  I can understand long throws and short ones.  But what I like best is watching the little remote control cars that the field helper puts the thrown object into and then the person with the remote control speeds back to the athletes. 

I admire the helpers in the trucks who set up the hurdles quickly and then take them down quickly; it’s a study in efficiency.  Love it!! 

So, look for me in the crowds at the track and field finals, the team synchronized swimming, and the women’s diving.  I’ll be waving directly at you!!

 

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Reading Type into Reading

I don’t usually spend a lot of time typing the people I meet either in person or in a book.  And the people I spend time with are grateful for that! 

But sometimes I just can’t help it.  That just happened when I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman and “met” Ove and his wife, Sonja.  The book is about the impact (planned or not) one life can have on many others.

Ove seems like an ISTJ to me with his focus on structure and details and doing what needs to be done with little fuss and fanfare. He likes following the rules and seeing his world in straightforward ways. (Okay, so he goes a bit over the top into curmudgeondom, but still, his basic personality is intact.)

Sonja is probably an ENFP, loving color and change and creativity and seeing potential in people.  She cares about enjoying life wherever she is and in whatever circumstances she finds herself in.

He is loyal to those he loves, although the concept of love is a tough one for him to acknowledge.  She accepts people for who they are and the concept of love is not a just a concept, but a reality. 

She speaks and he listens, and they love one another deeply.  We grow to love them both too.

Just to keep going with this opposites theme … if you know the RIASEC model, there’s another chance to see differences!  (RIASEC refers to Holland's six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.)

Ove is a “Realistic,” dedicated real, tangible things with his building, and fixing.  Sonja is the opposite, a “Social,” into helping people grow and develop through her teaching of “unteachable” kids. 

But he ends up building things all the time that help people!  Someone’s car breaks down, and he fixes it just to shut them up and stop asking for help.   And no matter what he does, he seems to inadvertently help others.  And in the process we see type development happening! 

While getting acquainted with their characters, I was also reminded of some research on couples by Drs. Julie and John Gottman.  They documented that on the average 69% of the issues couples have with one another will never be solved.  But they can be discussed in civil ways and perhaps even accepted.  Expecting the other person to change usually is unrealistic!!

That research was particularly helpful on a recent trip I took to Russia with my sweetie and another couple.  When we would find ourselves being annoyed with our partners, we would pipe up, “okay, that’s one of the 69%.” 

We would observe other couples bickering and think to ourselves, they probably were at 89%!  But beyond that we did not type them.

I don’t know if you read type into fictional characters, or real ones for that matter, but I can recommend this book, which is a good reminder that learning to accept differences helps in enjoying life! 

 

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The Perennial Pleasures of ISTJs

Every year, my ISTJ sister spends a week at her condo in Florida and for the last few years, I’ve been joining her. We do the same things she’s been doing every year: kayak on the Manatee River, swim in the condo’s pool, go out on a sunset sail, sit on the beach, walk along the sound, and eat crab legs at three different restaurants.

If you’re an ENFP, you may think that sounds like hell, repeating the same activities year after year. You would prefer to go to a place you’ve never been to, and explore all of its possibilities.

But wait a minute, let me make a case for the ISTJ way of vacationing, because I suspect that anyone, of any type, might enjoy it.  

First of all, because my sister has been doing these things for so many years, she knows how to do them right. For example, when we go kayaking, we go on Monday because that’s when we’re most likely to be alone on the river. The night before, she takes two bottles of “Simply Lemonade,” empties a little off the top, replaces it with vodka and puts the bottles in the freezer. The next morning, she packs a bag for each of us with a bottle of spiked lemonade, a bottle of frozen water, and a hefty serving of dry roasted peanuts. We each bring a small cushion to put behind us, which makes the seat very comfortable, and for three hours, we drift quietly down the river, paddling only to steer the kayak, admiring the trees and flowers, eating peanuts and getting a pleasant vodka buzz. It’s heaven, and I look forward to it all year.

Of course there are surprises; there are always surprises. One year the kayak rental owners had a peacock on the premises who was showing off his plumage, another year, an owl was perched in a tree right above us and hooted down at us. One year we saw an alligator sunning himself, and one year we actually saw a manatee. 

The point is, my sister has done this so many times she has worked out the kinks, and she knows how to make the experience simply perfect.

I once read a quote by a world famous chef. His advice to young cooks is to make a dish so many times that you have experienced almost everything that can go wrong with it, so you know how to avoid the possible errors. When it comes to vacations, my sister is like that famous chef. She has made all of the errors, and she knows how to avoid them.

ISTJs get a lot of flack for being resistant to change, but there are good reasons for their resistance. It’s because the routines and traditions that they have developed were hard won. They made all of the mistakes and learned all of the lessons, so now their finished product works every time. We need to remember that when we go in with our ideas for big changes. First, we need to ask why things are the way they are, and to acknowledge all of the painful lessons that have been learned.

I know that when I first arrive at the condo, the chicken salad and gazpacho that my sister has prepared will taste absolutely delicious and just the way I expect it. I know that while I’m with her I’ll never be hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, uncomfortable, bored or afraid, because my sister has experienced it all before me and now knows how to avoid it. I don’t have to repeat her mistakes, and that’s a great gift she gives to me.

This year, we did some new things, mostly because so many people had recommended them to my sister that their experience almost made up for her lack of experience. The new things were fun, but they weren’t perfect, like the old things. We came away with a little bit of dissatisfaction and things we would change if we came back next year.

For years, the people at my sister’s condo community complained about the temperature of their swimming pool. It always seemed too warm or too cold. But now the maintenance men seemed to have found the perfect temperature, where you don’t get any shock when you jump in, but it still feels refreshing after the hot sun. It took at least 20 years and a lot of aggravation to find that perfect temperature. I never jump in now without remembering what went into that lovely water. Thank god for the things that are perfect every time, and for the people (mostly ISTJs) who finally got them to that place.

 

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