INTJ

The INTJ Artist and Defeating Self-sabotage

Last week, I finished the second concert of my Celebris Ensemble. We sang a really fun concert of madrigals, folk songs, and jazz and pop standards. As always, I tend to reflect (some might say overthink) about my concert and things that I’ve learned from it.

The act of creation can be a tough business. At least I’ve found it to be so. You receive that flash of an idea, that moment of inspiration, and then the next several months are carved up into research, planning, communicating with people, rehearsing with your fellow musicians, etc.

Any time you as an INTJ (or anyone really) engages in a creative act, two main obstacles stand in your way to complete it: you and other people. But before you engage with others, you must first fight yourself—your fears, worries, insecurities, weaknesses, and gaps in your knowledge. These keep you from succeeding. Author Stephen Pressfield, in his excellent book The War of Art, called these enemies “resistance.” The battle against resistance is renewed every morning. (Disclaimer: The book contains some objectionable elements).

Increasing Your Knowledge and Skills

As a creative entrepreneur, I’m astounded by the sheer volume of things I don’t know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to create something—an event, a book, a business—and come across something vital that I need to know: some new skill, some vital piece of information, some tool or person I need to do the job. Instead of being daunted by the fact that you don’t know something, be excited that you get to learn something new.

One truly helpful place I’ve rediscovered on this journey is the library. Some of you might think this is obvious, but it wasn’t to me. I’d forgotten how valuable of a resource this place is. Your tax dollars already fund this, so you don’t need to pay more for books, which can be pricey. If the library doesn’t have the book, they can order it from another library. I’ve found this to be very helpful: Go to a bookstore, see what new books you want, and then borrow them from the library. It’ll save you a ton of money in the long run, and you still gain access to the info you need.

Defeating Your Fears

When engaging in an a creative act, please understand that the middle of the project is the hardest part. This is the time when fear creeps in. What if I fail? Will so-and-so get back to me in a timely manner? Will the right venue open up? Will the singers have their notes learned?

If unchecked, fear can self-sabotage you. You don’t work as hard as you need to, or you give up when victory was within reach. Neither of these things will help you. The nice thing about being an INTJ is that I don’t care what most people think of me. There is that handful of people though, and sometimes I worry that nothing I do will gain their approval.

The trick is to disregard the fear. So what if you fail? You’ve already done more than most people.  You’ve learned something new. You’ve grown as a creator. So what if the failure was your mistake? God still sits on His throne. He’s still controls everything. Stop worrying. It ain’t that important in the grand scheme of eternity.

Conclusion

I recommend some things here that will help you succeed on your next venture. Conquer your fears; expand your skills. Stop worrying and jump in with both feet. It’ll probably go a lot better than you think it will.

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INTJ Musicians and Physical Fitness

In 2012, I moved back to MI in order to be close to family. I had worked out at a gym 2-4 times a week in NC, but I was displeased with the results. I was in better shape than other people, but I didn’t think I was getting the most bang for my buck for the amount of time it took to drive to the gym (and back), getting dressed, and working out. Surely, there had to be a better way. For myself, I found that better way shortly before I moved. Vague rumors of a dvd program by Beachbody called P90X were floating around. So I tried it on its most basic level. Somehow, I managed to finish it.

Several things about the program appealed to the INTJ in me. 1) The goal: well-rounded physical fitness. You didn’t spend all your time doing muscle workouts or running. The end goal was that you could do multiple different kinds of physical activity and not injure yourself. 2) The beautifully systematic way in which Tony Horton went about it. He split the program into 3 phases (30 days each-hence the “90” in P90X). Tony went further: the program targets every muscle group including cardio each week. 3) The results were good. I actually became much more physically fit. I recuperated quickly if I did some new activity. Durability increased. 4) The introvert in me liked that I could get up in the morning without talking to anyone, throw on a pair of shorts, and get a solid workout done in an hour: quick, effective, and relatively painless.

As an INTJ, I play the long game and try to improve systems. There were other programs that-in my opinion-had some strengths that P90X did not. I mixed one new program a year into the 90 day program to improve it and for variety:

Isanity-Shaun T is a master of cardio.

Body Beast-Sagi Kalev is a master of muscle work.

I found that I could easily hybridize these workouts into the previous program. As my work life became more hectic, I found that sometimes I had less time to work out or needed some easier workouts. I enjoyed creating my own schedules and specifically tailoring the hybrids to what I needed at the time. The following are all 30 min.

P90X3-Excellent well-rounded workout program

Insanity Max 30-Shaun T’s cardio is amazing

21Day Fix Extreme-Autumn Calabrese did an excellent well-rounded workout program

I also found that as a musician I had to adapt the schedule. I avoided doing a bicep workout the day before or on the day where I had a heavy conducting schedule. I also found that I had to be careful of overworking my forearm muscles. On the day after a concert, I had to be sensitive to how much energy I have left. Also, I highly recommend P90X3: Yoga workout the day of a concert.

Which is the best program? The best workout program is the one which you can do consistently without injury. If you consistently run but you don’t consistently do muscle workouts, then emphasize running. Some people really enjoy dance workouts. If that will motivate you to be consistent, then go for it. If you need to start with an easy or short workout program so that you don’t injure yourself, then you really should start with an easy workout program and work your way up.

Featured Image By Onurcannar (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Six Interesting Facts about INTJ Musicians

I recently posted about being an INTJ. This Myers-Briggs personality type is often maligned and frequently misunderstood. Writers usually make them villains, typically because of their inscrutability, seeming lack of emotion, and their emphasis on strategic thinking. “Knowledge is power,” as the old saying goes, so I thought I’d do my part and list a few interesting facts about INTJ musicians.

  1. INTJ’s don’t crave applause or being in the limelight. It’s not a matter of not wanting it, but rather of not needing it. This confuses many because they assume that someone either wants it or they don’t. INTJ’s instead want freedom to accomplish their goals. The limelight is useful only insomuch as it can enable this freedom. INTJ’s know full well the downside of the limelight-constantly being around people. It is very exhausting for INTJ’s to be around people for extended lengths of time.
  2. Because they don’t need to be in front of people, INTJ’s are perfectly fine with someone else leading, provided the other person knows what they are doing and are willing to consider feedback. Incompetent or vision-less leadership in an ensemble or organization is incredibly frustrating to INTJ’s, especially when the leadership won’t listen to the INTJ.
  3. INTJ conductors want their musicians to pull their own weight in the ensemble. No drama, just fix the mistake. With an INTJ who hasn’t been developing his people skills, dealing with an emotional colleague in this straightforward way can come across as bluntness. This is because INTJ’s have a hard time figuring out someone else’s emotions, much less how to best deal with them. Emotions aren’t logical. Someone who fixes their own issues with minimal emotional outbursts will instantly put an INTJ at ease.
  4. INTJ’s perform the same way when in front of an audience as they do when in their dressing room. They aren’t dependent on others’ energy, so their performances are very consistent.
  5. An INTJ musican’s relationship with emotion is a mistrustful one. INTJ’s know that emotions are necessary for good performances. However, they also know that overactive emotions can get in the way of prudent decision-making. INTJ’s channel the precise amount of feelings they need to in order to communicate effectively.
  6. INTJ’s love to be in positions where their plans can come to fruition. They always have a master plan or vision. In music, this appears in many different roles: directing ensembles, teaching classes and lessons, making a character come to life in an opera or musical, etc. It’s not really the vocations that are different, but the approach to the vocations. INTJ’s approach what they are doing very strategically. They ask themselves the following questions: What am I trying to accomplish (i.e. the goal)? What are the important pieces I need in order to complete the goal? How do the pieces fit in order to accomplish the goal? How do I get the pieces to work together in order to accomplish the goal?

Projects, and life in general, look like a giant chessboard to an INTJ. To some, this way of thinking and behaving might seem completely alien. Perhaps this is why you’ve had conflicts with that INTJ in your life. Hopefully this answers some questions you might have. Maybe it raised a few. In any case, now you know this type a little better.

How to Perform as an Introvert

We live in a day and age that consistently exalts extroversion. In some senses, this has always been the case. Because they gain energy from being around other people, extroverts are usually the life of the party. They often volunteer for people-oriented tasks. This affinity for being in contact with people allows extroverts to easily gain attention and accolades from the world.

Yet, introverts offer much as well. They give off a quiet warmth and are usually good listeners. Because they lose energy when around others, they are often overlooked. Unfortunately, assumptions are made concerning their skills and abilities. One of these overlooked areas is the ability to perform in front of others. Many assume that introverts are shy wall-flowers who cannot perform well. Yet, it can be done. Introverts just naturally cannot perform the same way extroverts do. Introverts won’t be stereotypical, overly-dramatic performers.

Extroverts will naturally gain energy from the crowd when they perform. This is usually a strength. They can easily read the energy of the audience and other performers in the room, feed off of it, and even re-energize it if it begins to wane. The downside is that if the audience or other performers are low energy, extroverts will struggle to find their own energy.

Introverts will have the same energy level regardless of the energy in the room. However, Introverts must consider certain elements if they are to perform well. While I cannot speak for all introverts, I will let you in on some of my own methods for performance. These recommendations are for solo performance only. A director or conductor needs to make other considerations before he or she leads.

First, I don’t worry much about the energy level of the room; I concentrate on my own performance. Is my own energy level sufficient? Is my interpretation of the song/character good? Is it authentic? Are my technique, artistry, and musical precision communicating this authenticity?

Celebrated novelist Ray Bradbury once stated that great works of literature have “pores” in them. By this, he meant that great works of literature speak to the universal human condition (e.g. love, joy, death, sorrow, etc.). The stories feel real. So too, must great performances have this same level of intimacy. If I concentrate on my own performance, I find that I don’t lose energy, my interpretation and technique are consistently good, and the audience and other performers are energized and emotionally moved.

Second, I strive to stay completely in the moment. Introverts (especially intuitive ones) are often stuck inside their own heads. I use this head-stuckedness to my advantage. During the performance, I  focus on the work as a whole and where I currently fit. This allows me to chart where I’m going and helps me to be precise. It also enables improvisation, which is necessary for any good, truly moving performance. Improvisation ensures that no two performances will be exactly the same, the performer will take artistic chances, and that he can adapt when other performers mess up or if something unexpected happens.

Doing these things keeps me centered during performance. Being centered offers a lot of positives. Most notably, I don’t really get stage fright. This should help you perform as well.

The INTJ Musician

When I was in undergrad, I took my first Myers Briggs test. It was paradigm-shifting. I finally understood significant aspects of my personality. Some don’t find this test particularly helpful. If it works for you, great; if not, that’s okay too. All I know is that it worked for me. If anyone wants to take it, you can do it here. Anyway, I discovered that I was the type called INTJ. We are very rare and often misunderstood. Even rarer are INTJ creatives and performers. That’s because INTJ’s typically don’t like to be in front of others.

I know what some of you are asking. What on earth is an INTJ? INTJ’s come from a personality test that deals with several aspects of a persons personality. Before I dive into them, it must first be said that each of the personality elements are more of a spectrum than a definite thing. This means that a person will have some of the aspects of a personality type, but not all of them. Humans are complex. One INTJ might be 60% introverted and 40% extroverted, while another might be 90% introverted and 10% extroverted. Labels and categories are generalizations, and should be treated as such.

First, the test determines if you are primarily an [I]ntrovert or an [E]xtrovert. An introvert is someone who loses energy by being around others and gains it by being alone. An extrovert gains energy by being around others and loses it when alone. As an INTJ, I often find it exhausting to be around other people. For instance, I have a set amount of time I can spend at a party until I turn into a pumpkin.

The second category is i[N]tuitive or [S]ensing. Intuitive people tend to make their decisions based on internal decisions like logic and connecting the dots rather than merely “external facts.” They look for patterns behind data and use logic to figure out a better path. INTJ’s use intuition to make decisions. It is not unheard of for an INTJ to always be thinking multiple steps ahead. They often live inside their own head, and sometimes struggle to get out of it.

The third category is [T]hinking or [F]eeling. Thinkers trust logic and facts more than feelings when making decisions. For the thinker, feelings often get in the way of making good decisions. An INTJ then, does not trust feelings when it comes to decision making. Some of you might be asking at this point, “Aren’t creatives always going with their feelings?” I’ll approach this subject in a later post.

The last category is [J]udging or [P]erceiving. Those in the judging category are driven to make decisions and plans based on what they’ve understood. Perceivers believe that formulating the idea is the important thing, not implementing it. INTJ’s are the opposite. We have to put our plans into action.

Although I have read a lot of internet articles about INTJ’s, I have not seen many that talk about INTJ creatives. INTJ Musicians, in particular, are seldom mentioned other than in listings of possible celebrity INTJ’s.  In coming posts, I will be unpacking how being this personality type has affected me as a professional musician. We approach the creative process and performing differently than other types. It is my hope that this might help you deal with that INTJ Creative in your life. If you don’t know how to handle us, we can be a handful.

 

Picture Source: By Jake Beech (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons