Now, last but not least, let’s explore the intuition functions. First I’ll cover what those with an ENFP or ENTP preference (those who prefer extraverted intuition) find inspiring followed by INFJ and INTJ (those who prefer introverted intuition).
Extraverted intuition is the dominant function for those with an ENFP or ENTP preference. This is best described as noticing patterns as they emerge, exploring multiple options and seeking potential possibilities. If this is your dominant function you may bounce from one idea to another, thinking “what about this?” An example of using extraverted intuition in daily life is rather than focusing on what has happened, the energy is all about what might happen or what is possible.
During meetings with one particular client, he always asks that I kindly be the time keeper of our agenda. He gets so caught up exploring possibilities, options and new ideas that he sometimes needs a nudge to move the meeting to a decision. I asked my client to share what he finds inspiring and he said:
“I am overwhelmed with inspiration when I am considering all possibilities. I love to think outside the box and never see NO as an option. In my mind, there is always a new way to do something to make it better. Working in an environment where others also love to brainstorm fills me with inspiration.”
Despite different cultures, education and family influences, another client shared a similar, yet personal story of how she is inspired (and she also has a preference for Extraverted Intuition):
“I often feel inspired at spontaneous moments. It comes as a gush of enthusiasm when my friends and family start brainstorming possibilities. I jump in head first! My family recently decided to plan a large family reunion. I could feel my heart pounding with excitement as we began exploring all the options for location, theme, venue and food. Considering all possibilities to arrive at the best decision is inspiring and energizing for me.”
Last but not least, to complete this series let’s take a look at Introverted Intuition. This is the dominant function for those with an INTJ or INFJ preference. This is best described as data gathered and stored from the environment, then integrating the pieces into a whole. The result comes as a profound knowledge of what is true.
This function seems most different from the others because it is difficult to purposefully turn it on; rather it seems to just happen. Introverted Intuition works like what people call a sixth sense, with information coming as visions, insights and hunches. As mystical as it seems, how introverted intuition happens can be explained. What seems to be occurring is these folks have a highly sensitive extraverted sensing function working in auto pilot mode.
This function is considered inferior for their type preference, so they don’t even realize it is working silently. The sensing function gathers lots of information from the outside world, including subtleties that others tend to miss. This is happening without the person even realizing it. Their introverted intuition then subconsciously processes this data in order to make sense of it, like assembling pieces of a puzzle. Because this is happening without the person realizing it, the final puzzles or answers seem to come out of nowhere – even to the individual with this preference.
This is the most difficult of all the functions to explain and understand, so I’m sure you’ll appreciate real life examples. The common theme with these examples and personal stories are most feel perplexed they can’t explain where their knowledge and insight comes from.
A client described to me sitting in meetings and holding her comments as long as possible. She would previously just jump in and share ‘the answer’ but then couldn’t back it up with data. While she seemed to usually be right, it created friction with the team. So she learned when her insights seem to come out of the blue, she should hold off sharing and wait for the rest of the team to eventually find the answer that she had thought to suggest initially.
A friend of mine described his quest for learning. He said he is never satisfied with what he already knows, and it takes real effort for him to set limits and make use of the knowledge he already has. He says the more information he acquires about a subject, the more it strikes him there is more to learn. He says he receives flashes of insight that leads him deeper into the topic. His wife said this is a wonderful gift when he applies it to his engineering job, creating advanced solutions to make structures and bridges safer.
She laughs however when describing her desire to simply paint the bedroom walls; a simple task she wanted to knock out quickly on a Saturday morning. Her husband managed to turn the simple painting chore into a forensic adventure, finding a link between the old paint to a prior crime committed in the home 25 years ago with previous owners.
Here are a couple of quotes from some individuals I know with an INFJ or INTJ preference. Their stories paint a picture of how they are inspired.
“I am inspired by knowing I can trust my insights. I can’t summon it; the answers come when they are formed.”
“I feel deep levels of inspiration by the unknown. I am drawn to find the underlying meaning or read between the lines. Searching for the truth is so inspiring for me.”
This completes the blog series of what inspires each of us through the lens of our dominant MBTI function. When we ponder what inspires us, we see direct links to the core of our personality – our MBTI superpower is being engaged. Pay attention to what inspires you; listen to it and act on it. Doing so will free your best self, providing fuel to be a happier you.