Thursday, December 16, 2010

ISFP-INFP-INTJ: a comment on the creative process

INTJ’s are not necessary known for being creative. Visionaries, yes, but not creative in an abstract or artistic way, so I’m always surprised when people say “oh, you’re so creative.” Of course usually it’s the outcome or product they are assessing as creative, but the process that birthed that outcome or product, if witnessed, might have been quickly characterized as “oh, you are such an INTJ” or “you just suck the fun out of everything, don’t you?”

Nothing will humble what little creativity an INTJ may have than to spend 30 minutes in a room with a couple of UBER-creative, talented, soulful, remarkable and gifted ISFP and INFP musicians.

You see, recently I begged the help of my ISFP friend to help me record the songs I sang at my father’s funeral onto a CD. Besides having a heart of gold, this ISFP is one of the most talented people I know – a worship leader at prominent church in the DC area, has opened for major Christian artists, released his first album last year, in the process of cutting another – which is very daunting for a corporate executive INTJ square like me to sit down and sing my little songs into a microphone.

As an INTJ, of course, I am a perfectionist, highly critical of self, always seeking improvement so I’m never completely satisfied with anything I do. But knowing this about myself (and how annoying it can be for others to be around) I have learned to let go a bit and if someone I recognize as an authority says it’s good, I move on (well, physically anyway – mentally, I’m still in constant review.) So when my dear ISFP said a take was good, I accepted it as good. When he wanted me to repeat a section, I resisted the urge to repeat the entire thing 80 more times and just repeated that section identified.

The part I found typologically remarkable was the ISFPs joking comment of jealousy that each time I sang a particular song or section that it was almost identical to the time before. The consistency from take to take was apparently enviable (which, of course, if I’m repeatedly and identically singing a section poorly, I’m not sure why consistency would be an enviable trait) and in the back of my head I’m seeing one of those INTJ posters that have a picture of a robot and some comment about precision.

In the rehearsal after rehearsal that were a part of this INTJ’s process long before I showed up at the ISFP studio, my goal was precision so of course the outcome was precisely the same each time. I wish I knew a different way, could experience it a different way, feel it through an I*FP beat and taste the freedom of a true creative process that is counter intuitive for an INTJ.

The typological icing on this creativity cake was made by the kind, uber-talented INFP musician who composes, orchestrates new sheet music weekly and plays 173 different instruments at the church. As the ISFP is repeating his remark of jealousy at the INTJ consistency, the INFP says, “Well, of course. Lauren is always a consummate professional.” And then turns to me directly and says “and I mean that in the best possible way.”

Now wait – INTJ brain is going to have an aneurysm. How could “consummate professional” ever be a bad thing that it needs to be clarified as “meant in the best possible way?” Is that an “I*FP” thing? Do I need to “loosen up” fellas?

Relax. No offence taken. You can’t be an MBTI practitioner and see 3 dozen posters depicting the INTJ as a robot and not realize you come off as a bit stiff to others. I get it. The comment, though, was classic, and it would have been an MBTI loss not to share it.

So does NOT being a consummate professional equal more authentic creativity? Hmmmm... processing.... processing ... processing....


Brenda said...

Ok, so it took me a really long time to decode who the people were in this story :-P If I knew what all these initials meant I might've gotten it a little bit quicker :) Ha, maybe one of these days I'll learn about all this personality trait stuff, but I still feel weird about someone evaluating how am I am and why I am that way. Maybe that defines my type as it is! :) And FWIW, I don't think you're stiff or robotic at all. And I too wish that I could have consistency- both musically/vocally and all around I guess ;-)

Boz said...

Sometimes the "I" in INFP stands for Idiot. :-) Would have never considered you a robot or without creativity! Thanks for your very too kind words - and the "consummate profession" was definitely out of respect - the "not in a bad way" comment was hoping you didn't think I meant you were a robot :-)

This was fun to read!