When I was doing my undergraduate work at Regis University, I took a required course in Statistics. Honestly, I don’t remember much about it. For some reason, Statistics didn’t turn out to be representative of my most stellar academic performance. Nevertheless, there was one thing I learned about in Statistics that still sticks with me, and that is the graph known as The Bell Curve. The Bell Curve is a graph that represents the normal distribution of data regarding well – almost everything. It seems that most data will fall somewhere in the middle when plotted out on a graph, and it’s equal on both sides of the center. It slopes dramatically down from both sides, (creating what is known as a Bell Curve – because it looks like a bell? OK) as the data becomes rarer, the rarest of the rare data falls on either side, as far out from the center as possible. So that’s my quick and dirty explanation of it, but I took a full semester of Statistics which seems to indicate that there must be something much more complicated about it. Still, for my purposes, I’ll stick with my explanation.
As a Psychology major, I was particularly interested in The Bell Curve where the data plots things like personality traits, (including introversion/extroversion, detail orientation, sociopathy, and general agreeableness). The most popular personality test used by professionals is The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory; however, another very popular personality test is The Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, an instrument which tests only for personality and does not look to make any kind of diagnosis regarding mental health, as does the MMPI. Just to be clear, both tests have their proponents and their critics, and I’m not enough of an expert in either one to have an educated opinion. I will say this though, I’ve taken both at one time or another, and despite what the critics say about the MBPI, I have found my results to be consistent over time. I test out repeatedly as an INTJ.
An INTJ is a person who is introverted, intuitive, a thinker, and a judger. This doesn’t mean I’m passing judgement on everyone and everything all the time, but rather, that I’m what George W. Bush would call, “a Decider.” While the rarest of personality types on the MBPI scale is the INFJ (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging) the INTJ is the second rarest personality type, with only 1% to 4% of the population testing out with this combination of traits. If seen on a bell curve, the number of people who test out with this personality type would be at the far end of the curve, and pretty far away from the center, where most people are only one statistical deviation point away from “normal”, or the center of the graph.
You may be living as an INTJ or an INFJ yourself and know that it presents its own set of problems to be dealt with on a life-long basis, but it can be a blessing as well as a curse. Similarly, if you’re on the opposite end of the scale, you may deal with problems on the flip side of the coin, for instance, the ENTJ (extroverted, intuitive, thinker, judger) is the rarest extroverted personality type, and would fall on the opposite end of the bell curve to me, even though we share the last three letters as the same traits.
One of the most obvious ways this played out for me in my years working in the corporate and higher education environments is that it seemed like most people believed that those who work in H.R. must be extroverts. After all, Human Resources is considered a “people position”, therefore, you must be a “people person” to be good at it. It’s not that introverts don’t like people, it’s just that often, they prefer their own company and keep their own counsel. Once you get into it, you discover that the top HR Managers, Directors, and Executives are, often, INTJ’s. Very strange too, because INTJ is such a rare personality type. But INTJ’s make great managers! And Human Resources has only become more detailed and complex over the years. I predict that at some point in the not-too-distant future, HR Managers will need a J.D. to run the HR function of any complex organization. Gone are the days when the “Personnel Manager” could have any type of college degree and be successful in the job. It’s definitely become more specialized and complex, especially in the area of legal compliance.
As a photographer, these personality traits also influence how I practice my art. And yes, I do think of photography as an art. Not only is it an art, but it is a practice in mindfulness for me and an appreciation of nature. It definitely hooks into my trait of intuition (what the N stands for in INTJ) and my innate spirituality. Because of this, I don’t do as well with things like group photoshoots or getting together with other photographers on a social level to shoot (the shit mostly, as well as the landscape). Although I will say that I have often been jealous of those people who go out on photography trips with their friends; for me, it rarely works. I find I don’t like the images I come home with from group photoshoots nearly as much as I like the ones I find on my own. On the other hand, there are places where I feel more comfortable being with others for safety reasons. Some people feel perfectly safe roaming around in the wilderness alone, but I don’t so much. I’ll take it only so far.
I was surprised when I got into landscape and nature photography that I didn’t have to go THAT far off the beaten path to get an image I liked. I do think that everyone should follow their own intuition and advice on this, and don’t put yourself in an unnecessarily dangerous position just to get a certain shot. I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that there are some places I probably will never experience or photograph. These places include places out in the desert that require long hikes, hikes into slot canyons alone, and most of the Colorado “14’ers.” I’ve hiked Hanging Lake a few times in my adult life, but the last time I did it, I knew it would be my last. For me, this is probably true of Delicate Arch as well. It’s a much tougher hike than they make it out to be, and I hike alone. My “photo roadie” is 79 years old and he’s not a hiker. Sometimes, as they say, discretion really is the better part of valor. Some of us really like pushing the envelope as far as possible, but some of us also have small envelopes. That’s OK.
PS: Some famous INTJ’s include Thomas Jefferson, C.S. Lewis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gandalf, from The Lord of The Rings. I’m in good company!
I’ve written a book! You can find it on my author page on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Debby-Powell/author/B0B8KY7J41?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true
To see more of my photography, please visit https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/ or my FLICKR page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hlake4949/with/51948832318/
One reply to “The Better Part of Valor”
I’m an INFP. I thought that was the rarest.