Myers Briggs

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 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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 (, via Wikimedia Commons