Entries for month: April 2012

Wellsprings of Desire

I was walking the dogs today around the lake near our house. The trees have been dark and bare for the last four months, but today when I looked out over the lake, there was a cloud of bright green going from one side of the woods to the other, caused by the new leaves on the poplars. Right below it, there was a cloud of soft pink from the flowers of the red maples. It was an absolutely beautiful sight, and took my breath away.

On the walk back to the car, I was looking forward to getting home, where I could sit down at my computer and write about that strong feeling of joy. Strong feelings motivate us to act, either to add something to our lives or subtract something, and I love the whole process of figuring out what they are telling me, and the best way to act on them. The almost painful joy in that spring day was telling me to shake off my winter routine and start getting out of the house more.
Everyone has feelings and everyone has to figure out what they mean, but because I’m an NF, I have a strong desire to think about feelings. I love that desire to think about my feelings, simply because it is a desire. I’m being pulled to do something, instead of having to push. Unlike many other things, I don’t have to put it on my to-do list. I don’t have to feel guilty because I put it off. I don’t have to disguise it as something else in order to get it done.
It’s so wonderful to have something that you always want to do, and have always wanted to do since you were a kid. If you took everything away from me, all of my people and possessions, I’d still look forward to analyzing the feeling of having nothing, and figuring out the best way to deal with it. This never-failing wellspring of desire is the greatest joy that I get in life. It’s also the truest description of who I am and what I am supposed to do with my life. I am a person who is supposed to pay attention to feelings.
If you know your wellspring of desire, it seems, you know a lot. You know what brings you joy, but you also know the way in which you will bring others joy. If you know your wellspring of desire, you may be emboldened to set more time aside for your desire, to take it from a hobby to a job, from a job to a career, from a career to a movement. You may stop treating it as a foolish indulgence that no one is interested in, and start taking it seriously as the reason you are on this earth.
We all need help in believing in ourselves. We’re such inherently self-doubting creatures that we need something strong to ally ourselves with. When I was young I had an inkling of the fact that I liked to think about my feelings and try to understand them, but I heard the voices of society saying, “That’s self-indulgent. That’s a useless way to spend your time.” It wasn’t until I found the type theory that I had permission to take that desire seriously. In type theory, the NF desire to understand the guidance of feelings is one of the essentials for human survival, as important as being practical or objective. It leads to inspiring and helping other people to make good decisions, live in harmony with others, and make the most of their lives. I grew up the day I found the type theory. I stopped playing with my desires, and had the courage to begin working with them. How can you thank someone enough for giving you that?
I used to love it when my SF kids were little, to watch what they would do when there was nothing to do…when the friends were gone, the homework was done, and there was nothing on TV. My ISFJ daughter would usually end up doing something different with her hair, painting her nails a new color, baking a dessert, or trying on outfits. My ESFJ son would be outside shooting baskets, riding his bike, or planning a day of sports and games where he could “invite all our friends over.” It’s as if their senses and their bodies were calling to them, the same way my feelings call to me, saying, “Pay attention to me, discover my secrets, learn my lessons, share me.”

My son had an ST friend who used to spend a lot of time with us. He got a kick out of watching me type on my computer because he wanted to be able to move his fingers over a machine that quickly. When I showed him how to run the fax machine and copier in my office, he asked to do it over and over again. When our clock was broken, he figured out what was wrong and fixed it. He sat on his computer and experimented with it for hours, learning all of the things it could do. He didn’t just ride a bike, he figured out everything you could do with a bike. It’s as if tools and machines were calling to him, saying, “Pay attention to me, discover my secrets, learn my lessons, share me.”

And my NT husband, in those rare moments when he’s not working as a management consultant, is reading up on management theory, composing his own management theories, and trying to find elegant structures to hold together all of the management theories in the universe. It’s as if the laws of the universe call to him, saying, “Pay attention to me, discover my secrets, learn my lessons, share me.”

Do you notice that little surge of desire inside of you, like a spring coming up out of the ground, calling you to that part of life that is yours to attend to? Isn’t it wonderful that you have that? It’s the one true thing about you, the one thing you can count on to always be there and to give your life direction. Don’t you just love it?


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Being open. Being decided. Finding balance.

“The essence of the (Jung’s) theory is that much seemingly random variation in behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to the basic differences in the way individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.”

Isabel Myers penned this in the first paragraph of Chapter One of the MBTI® Manual. It’s that important. People love type. It not only feels good to be validated in our preferences, but life gets better as we learn to relate to others across those “orderly and consistent” type differences.

You’ll recall that in type language Sensing and Intuition are different kinds of perception and that Thinking and Feeling are different kinds of judgment. We experience the reality of the processes of perceiving and judging every day – this is where the rubber hits the road.  As we look inward to ourselves and outward at others in our lives, we come to appreciate the need for a healthy balance between these two kinds of activities - between letting in information and drawing conclusions about that information.  Between experiencing life and holding our experiences to some kind of standard.  Between being open and being decided.

Finding this balance is important for us both personally and professionally. It’s important in our relationships, and in our participation in groups and organizations.
Balance is the key. People need to be able to perceive and to judge. The career client needs options and a way to evaluate those options. The leader needs the ability to gather/explore information and to decide/set direction.  Teams as a whole need balance – the capacity to let data in and the capacity to draw conclusions – so they can work together happily and effectively.  In our personal relationships, we often try to find the balance between being open to our partners – who they are, their input and their worlds – while also being able to draw conclusions, make decisions and have a stance of our own.
The MBTI Step I™, Step II™ and Step III™ versions provide us with plenty of material to help us grow and make constructive use of type differences.  Indeed, there are many good resources on the CAPT website that can provide us with type information and that can help us decide how we might best develop ourselves and honor the people in our lives. In all this good work on ourselves and with others, let’s never forget  that type development is about increasing balance and sophistication in our uses of perception and judgment. It’s fundamental.  Isabel Myers said it right there in the front of the manual – right where we would read it and get it.

CAPT Catalog

Here’s to finding the balance that’s right for you!



This post also appears in the new Spring/Summer 2012 CAPT Catalog

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Synchronicity and Kemp's Ridley Turtles

Okay, so this is a strange title but they definitely are connected (in my life) so read on.  Those who have spent time learning a bit of Jungian psychology know the concept of synchronicity.  Its simplest definition is a “meaningful coincidence.”
I wrote this post in the Houston, Texas area while visiting with a long-time friend who owns and runs a private school for ages 3 through 9.   She’s an ENFJ and is constantly encouraging her students and her teachers to grow and develop; her curriculum is incredibly creative and students are well loved by the teachers -- they form strong bonds with one another.  I was there to do a type session encouraging even more teamwork among her teachers so that they could improve their collaboration and better educate their students.
The school’s primary grade students have an annual fundraiser. The second and third graders (about 20 in all) have a project in which they pick an endangered animal, research it with their families, and write a report on their findings. Each presents the report and their classmates vote on the one they want to be the subject of their fundraising – Kemp's Ridley Turtles “won” this year.  These turtles also have a close geographic connection to them: Padre Island, Texas is being reintroduced as a nesting site.  There is only one other site in the world (Rancho Nuevo, Mexico) where these turtles return to lay their eggs.
The teachers include these turtles in their lessons.  For example, each grade draws pictures of the turtles using different art techniques (see the art teacher’s blog for some samples).  Elements of the pictures are put together and a t-shirt is designed for the “fun run” fundraiser event.
Now here’s the synchronicity.  Decades ago, marine biologists were mystified as to where the Ridley Turtles had their nesting site, but no one could find it to even begin protecting it.  My uncle, Henry Hildebrand (INTP) was part of the hunt and actually was the first scientist to document their nesting site in Mexico.
(As an aside, you can probably see that it is difficult to be part of my family and my friendship group and escape the MBTI® inventory! My adult children have requested that I hold off asking anyone they date to take it right after I meet them!!)
Uncle Henry was a remarkable man and a dedicated marine biologist. He gathered data on turtle sightings in part through talking with locals in both Texas and Mexico (he spoke fluent Spanish, although apparently with a heavy Texas accent).  He spoke with anyone who might have information, including fishermen, fish processing company owners, villagers and scientists. He had an incredibly wide circle of people who spoke at his funeral service – all of whom admired his independence and his ability to talk to each person as an equal. He learned something from everyone, and was able to put together theories of the turtles’ migration patterns and their potential nesting sites.  And he finally found the sites at Rancho Nuevo along the Gulf of Mexico.*

So how is it that this friend of nearly 50 years who has run this school for 25 years and whom I had never visited until March 2012 was having a school focus on Ridley Turtles that my late Uncle Henry had been intimately involved with in his career?  That’s synchronicity!
Talking with the children who had just gotten back from a turtle rescue lab in Galveston was a treat.  Showing them pictures of my uncle and the Mexican nesting grounds of the turtles he had discovered was wonderful. Hearing their excitement about turtles and the things they learned was even better.
I’ve come away with a greater appreciation for both my uncle and for how good teaching happens.  Some would say, “What a small world.”  Synchronicity happens!! 

   *Read more about this in The Great Ridley Rescue by Pamela Phillips, Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1989.