Knowing a problem is harder than solving it

Self-knowledge can solve all your problems. Because it’s more difficult to understand what your problem is than to know how to solve it.

Most of the time we actually have the knowledge we need to solve a problem, but we don’t like reality, so we pretend to not have the knowledge.

This reminds me of the bazillion times I’ve told someone to take the Myers Briggs test. I think everyone should take it so you know your natural strengths and weaknesses. But most people already have an idea of who they want to be based on what their parents have told them about who they should be. And so almost most people are shocked and a little disappointed when they get their Myers Briggs score. Reality is almost never what we think it is when it comes to assessing ourselves.

So most people live in denial about their personality profile. I did that. I thought I was a writer even when I kept scoring as an ENTJ. But if you are an ENTJ, you need to do something much bigger than writing a book all by yourself, because you need some people to boss around. Or at least some people to leverage to get a bigger book written, like maybe the encyclopedia. So I pretended to not be an ENTJ by pretending that I was really one of those super creative people trapped in corporate America. But you know what? I love corporate America. I love the game part of it.

Okay. So this is how you solve any problem in your life: Admit the reality of your life.

Let’s use procrastination as an example. I spend a lot of time dissecting my procrastination habit. I am a great list maker. And I’m great at prioritizing. And then I do something that is not at the top of my priority list. And then I have a messed up day because I don’t get my important stuff done. And, on a large scale, of course, this is a messed up life.

I realized that a lot of times I procrastinate because I’m scared that something won’t work. Like, I should have gotten a spray tan a long time ago because it makes me look thinner and then I can eat more cookies with cellulite impunity. But I was super nervous to do the tanning.

So I tell myself that mistakes are okay. And the more mistakes I am willing to make in my life, the less procrastinating I will do: Mental gymnastics help me, I think.

I also realized that sometimes procrastination is okay. It’s a sign that I’m not ready to do something. So here, I am linking to a post I love, about my son being born deformed, and I don’t link to that one enough. You should read it. Anyway, I realized—while I was writing that post—that procrastination can actually be a learning tool if you listen to your heart and stop beating yourself up.

But then there are other times when I am not listening to my heart. Instead, I eat bagels. This is what I am working on now. I am trying to figure out why I have to eat each time something is hard. This is not good. If nothing else, there’s a limit to how much you can compensate for with a spray tan.

So I have been noticing how when I switch from one task to another, I want to eat. And then I noticed that when I want my son to switch, he throws a fit. And his therapist who specializes in transitions for people with Aspergers Syndrome says that he needs something to occupy himself physically in order to have a calm transition. So he has a ball to bounce from math to reading, a quarter to flip in his palm on the way to gym, and gum to chew as he gets ready to leave school.

So it hit me: eating between tasks is a coping skill because my body wants to be doing something to calm myself down. And the therapist says this makes sense. In the neuro-typical population (the nice-nice word for not-special-ed) people bite their nails, eat Ho-Hos, twirl their hair … there are tons of transitional tools people develop to help themselves along.

The problem is that if you get fat, or nails get bloody, or you start not being able to get out of your transition (my problem) then you are stuck. And stuck is bad. I’m stuck eating to procrastinate changing tasks because changing is hard and eating makes it easier.

To be honest, this is not helping much, because I’m at the end of the post, and I will want a bagel any moment. But I understand what is driving me to want a bagel during transitions: It’s a discomfort being between things. I could tell myself: only one bagel, only one bagel. I have tried that for thirty years, though. And it’s not working. And it’s not because I don’t try. It’s not working because it’s impossible. So instead I need to minimize transitions.

I learned this from my son, by the way. The therapist tells me to give him warning when a transition is coming and to tell him what we’re doing next. When I do that, he’s much calmer. So I am doing that with myself right now. I am going to type this last line, and then go to bed. I’m visualizing my transition: No meandering through the kitchen. Walk straight upstairs.

And then I’ll have a new problem: That I do not take time to plan each transition before I make it…

Posted in No image, Self-management
67 comments on “Knowing a problem is harder than solving it
  1. Garima says:

    haha, the last line had me laughing.

    but it seems somewhat of a circular argument, like you can never be prepared enough. sometimes, you just need to get on with it.

    some people like myself, feel most when we’re insanely busy.

  2. Matthew | Step into the Flow says:

    Have you seen the movie Adam, perchance? That’s a wonderful movie about romance with someone with Aspergers.

    Hits home for me; both my brother and my father have it.

  3. Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    A wonderfully thoughtful post, Penelope. True self-knowledge is incredibly difficult to come by. Myers Briggs is certainly useful but only provides rudimentary self-knowledge. The real stuff you want to get at is your deeply held beliefs that operate at the sub-conscious level but that determine the major behavior patterns of your life. One of the classically overused but useful examples: if you constantly find yourself dating jerks, there’s probably some underlying belief that leads you to be attracted to them (perhaps you believe you deserve to be treated badly).

    By the way, an alternative explanation for why you eat bagels: physical pleasure is extremely distracting. We turn to it all the time to avoid anxiety.

    Acquiring self-knowledge is extremely difficult, but changing yourself is pretty tough, too.

  4. Lincoln says:

    In your title, do you mean “problem’s” (as in “problem is”), or am I missing the point?

  5. JS Dixon says:

    INTJ here! I wouldn’t count an ENTJ as uncreative. the NTJ preference doesn’t hinder our creativity, but it does mean that we have to make a few extra efforts to learn how to listen to ourselves, and that it would be to our advantage to take courses on communication, such as assertiveness courses and toastmasters.

    Still Meyers-Briggs can only tell you so much. I just like the overview of what pit falls come with my strength set.

    I read that gum chewing can meet most of our eating habit needs. If you still want to eat 20 minutes after chewing gum, than it means your hungry. Hope that helps.

  6. dr aletta says:

    This post is about so many things my head is spinning.

    It’s about the expectations we put on ourselves, a big chunk of which came from our parents.
    It’s about how we stay with the familiar even if it’s dysfunctional because it’s familiar and therefore safe.
    It’s about change being hard.
    It’s about procrastination.
    It’s about smoothing out transitions and planning for change.
    It’s about food addiction.

    Wow.

    • Matt Secor says:

      I agree. This post is crammed full of ways to better understand oneself. It was well worth the read.

  7. Yanik says:

    Another very insightful post Penelope, thank you. Knowing my problem is half the battle. Solving the problem takes courage because it forces me out of my comfort zone. Some comfort zones are so uncomfortable that it’s easy to choose to break free, other zones, not so much. Fear of failure is a biggie for me right now. I like to invent problems that prevent me from facing the fact that, as @garima said earlier, I just need to get on with it. Reading the very touching post about your son reminds me that moving from fear to love is always the best solution.

  8. Jonathan Vaudreuil says:

    Something did not hit me right about this post, and it’s the underlying message of “you can’t change everything you want to change about yourself, it’s IMPOSSIBLE.”

    I used to eat myself into oblivion. Life without soda every day, dessert every night, and the ability to eat whatever I wanted seemed impossible. Until I cut way back and started working out, of course.

    I was such a negative person. Glass was always half empty. Now it’s half full more than half empty.

    I was awful with women. When I had a girlfriend I was a pushover and felt weird standing up for myself. Not only do I stand up for myself, I’m engaged to the most wonderful (and attractive) person I’ve ever been in a relationship with.

    These were all who I was. They were bagels I ate. As long as you place a higher value on doing the same thing over making a change then things will, yep, you got it, stay the same.

    It’s one thing to align your life with your strengths; it’s another to shrug your shoulders and say “that’s who I am, I can’t change!”

  9. Joselle says:

    I’ve missed reading you. I’ve been away from the computer because I just moved to another city with my fiance and have no job and I am absolutely in a scary transition phase. Which is why I have gained 10 pounds, been eating scary amounts of white flour (bagels) and am starting to become OCD about cleaning and organizing, especially green cleaning and throwing out every item I own. Of course, my fiance is a hoarder (I am too, although I find it easy to throw things out) and we’ve had about 5 fights in one week about me becoming enraged about the things he won’t throw out. Even though I know this about him for years.

    I do all this so I don’t have to look for a job. Because I hated my last job so much, I’m afraid to feel that way again. And I’m afraid to not be able to do what I really want (luckily, it fits into me being INFP, but so does being a teacher or a priest and I want to be neither of those things). And I’m afraid that I suck at relationships. I’m afraid that my marriage will suck. I’m relating a little too much to Betty Draper on Mad Men and yet, I’ve also enjoyed cleaning and staying at home because it keeps me away from the world. And when I’m not cleaning, I’m procrastinating by watching Mad Men.

    But I knew I needed to get back to the land of the living today so I decided to start by reading you, then working out, then a little cleaning, then I’m going shopping for work clothes and then a free career seminar tonight. Thanks.

  10. Melanie says:

    My transition between one major task and another or between my commute and starting to work is reading one of your blog posts! I never thought of these “procrastination” moments as transitions for calming myself but you’re right. They are. Thanks, Penelope.

  11. Francine says:

    Great post. And once again timely for me. I’m reading your blog to procrastinate cleaning my basement, which I need to do to sell my house, which in turn I need to do to offset my son’s ridiculous college tuition bill (“Little Ivies,” indeed), which arrived on the heels of my finding out the company I work for is being acquired and I am likely to be laid off.

    Upon thinking about it, it’s actually a great time for a big life transition: career change; downsizing my home; etc. But it’s scary too. In my basement is all the crap my ex-husband left when he moved out after our divorce. It’s been ten years, and none of it is sentimental stuff, but it still brings back all the underlying pain of an unhappy marriage and rocky split. That’s just the basement. The attic will be even worse–a box for each year of my son’s school life, baby clothes, photo albums…

    I know I can get there, and like you, I’ve made lists that get shuffled and scuttled hourly. Right now I’m happy if most days I make it through 2/3 of the stuff on the list. It means I’m making forward progress. And if I have to play a little Twisty Text on my iPhone in between tasks, well, I’m willing to accept it as a small price to pay. And it’s easier on my thighs than bagels.

  12. prklypr says:

    One of your best posts in recent weeks! So much good stuff here, it could have easily been 2-3 different posts: self knowledge is indeed a key to success. You had me hanging on every word…until I got to the procrastination example: spray tanning?!? Come on, a great post loaded with fantastic insights and information, and you chose ‘fear of spray tanning’ to make your point about procrastination? A great post, calling out for a deeper analogy.

    • prklypr says:

      …and I’m sorry if that sounded a little negative – I truly love that this post touches on so many different issues: procrastination, expectations, thinking outside the box, change, transitions, addictions. Just a tad disappointed about the whole spray tanning bit, that’s all.

  13. Natalie says:

    You make me want to pull out my Meyers-Briggs results! I was a slight or in the middle on everything though, which made me feel personality-less. Not true, a slight introvert is just more extroverted than a mega introvert, but it made me wonder.

    I’m a big transition person. I always have my list but I thrive on deadlines too. Those tasks that just need to be done “sometime” suffer.

  14. samantha says:

    i adore you. you are so funny. and honest.

  15. Mark W. says:

    I read this post a couple of hours ago. I have some ideas on how I want to comment but what I’ve been doing lately with your posts is comment procrastination. It gives me a chance to think about what I want to say here in the comments. :)

  16. James Todd says:

    Your post made me think of I conversation I had with Josh Kaufman a few weeks ago about the mental effort of transitions and that it takes time for our brains to be in "flow" again every time we switch.
    He suggested documenting a few days of life to figure out:
    How often do I switch tasks?
    What are the triggers that cause me to switch needlessly (do I check e-mail b/c I'm bored with task at hand or b/c I hit a roadblock?)
    What am I thinking or feeling that is the motive force behind the switch?
    What is the process for moving to the next task? Return to list? Do what's "at hand"?
    Am I procrastinating?
    What about the task I'm transitioning to makes me feel X?

    Not sure if it would be helpful for you, but even an awareness of how much needless task-switching was going on is starting to change my behavior. I'm realizing that much of my frenetic pace could be avoided by being more intentional rather than chasing urgencies.

    Thanks for posting. I really enjoy how your blog challenges me.

    -JT

  17. Ethan says:

    “Like, I should have gotten a spray tan a long time ago because it makes me look thinner and then I can eat more cookies with cellulite impunity.”

    Great. Thanks for destroying my last shred of hope for humanity. I was saving that one to use for the next election or something. Nice going.

    On the other hand, you’re hella cute. Would you date an XNZL? Hit me up.

  18. Mitch says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, it gives me a few additional things to think about.

    FWIW: I’m an INTP — both via Myers-Briggs as well as the Kiersey Temperament Sorter II

  19. Moon says:

    Excellent and entertaining post. Does anyone know of a legitimate Myers Brigs that I can take that is free?

  20. Siri says:

    I love this post because it puts onto paper (well, computer page) what my brain feels like all the time: trying to figure myself out, why I do what I do, and just thinking, thinking, thinking, then figuring out how to deal with my quirks. I love reading your posts because they make me feel like there’s someone else out there trying to deal with theirs as well.

  21. Marina says:

    I have to disagree with this post. Some people, in particular the people who seek out knowledge and understanding about themselves by reading this blog and others, aren’t really in denial about their problems. They are usual analytical and willing to spend the time to really understand their impediments. For example, I think most of the readers of this blog will have already taken the Myers-Briggs. Not only because you’ve mentioned it a few times, but because they are naturally curious and look for ways to dissect their personality and understand themselves.

    I think the difficulty is that it’s still really hard to change once you understand a problem. I think I’m quite in tune with the things about myself that I know I need to work on however changing them – finding a solution and really implementing it in my life – is the hard bit for me. I listen to my head and my heart frequently but when it comes to having to stand up to a friend that I know is bringing me down for example, that’s still the hardest part for me.

  22. Jim says:

    On the MBTI, which is a useful test, it’s important to understand that one’s profile will change over time. I recently came out with a ENTJ, which I felt was appropriate. But in my 30s and 40s I consistently was assessed with an E/I STJ )I’m borderline introvert/extrovert.

    Unfortunately the MBTI has been grossly abused by organizations, often pigeon-holing people into a stereotyped personality profile. Some of the above advice is very good. There’s also second-level MBTI testing which drills depper into one’s profile. As several certified MBTI assessors have told me, it’s all about preferences.

  23. Heather says:

    It’s such a struggle all the time isn’t it? And so frustrating to get stuck in the same loops. I can’t laugh about your bagel habit because I’m stuck at the moment as well and it’s hell. Today I’m weary from trying to think and plan new strategies. Tomorrow most likely I’ll have a new plan…

  24. LPC says:

    Reminds me of Montaigne. Except cuter. I wish you were my friend. I should write a pitch. Penelope Trunk, you should be my friend.

  25. JB says:

    Just read the post about your son. This is the best line:
    Sometimes procrastination is the best tool we have for taking care of ourselves.

    Thanks.

  26. Mark W. says:

    I would say self-knowledge is the necessary first step to solving a person’s problems. The key to a solution begins with analyzing the problem and correctly diagnosing it. How a person obtains self-knowledge and get to know their true-self varies widely and can range from reading books to first-hand experiences to listening to other people to therapy. Additionally, the path to self-knowledge on any given problem will vary from one individual to the next. What you say about admitting the reality of your life is also key and needs to be done in the early stages of solving a person’s problems. However the following statement – “…it’s more difficult to understand what your problem is than to know how to solve it.” – which I agree with – is not the same as the title of the post – ‘Knowing a problem is harder than solving it’ which I don’t necessarily agree with. Maybe I’m splitting hairs here but knowing how to solve a problem and actually solving it are two different things. Solving a problem requires self-discipline and a sincere desire to solve it which may be harder than getting the self-knowledge in the first place. I know this first hand as I eat a bagel almost every day and procrastination will haunt me for all the rest of the days of my life regardless of how many lists I create. :)

  27. Nancy says:

    Bizarre.

    J’s don’t procrastinate. P’s procrastinate. Could you really be an ENTP? The “P” part would account for these feelings of creativity.

    As for eating during transitions, that is just one option for Aspies.

    Here are alternatives:
    1. Drinking water through a straw. The suction action has the same effect as crunching and chewing. Carry a spout water bottle. This one works GREAT.
    2. Chewing gum.
    3. A hand squeeze ball.
    4. Chair push-ups, hot tea, crunching ice cubes, standing on one foot and then the other, brushing your hair

    (BTW using a yoga ball for a desk chair is awesome. It really keeps the brain focused.)

    One last thing: maybe consider that you are just hungry. We eat too many carbs, and that makes our insulin bounce up and down and drives us to crave food. A fruit-veg-protein-nuts diet would get rid of that.

    Bagels are from satan.

  28. Susan Mazza says:

    Your post reminds me of the saying “if you know but you don’t do then you don’t know.” Sometimes even when we know the problem intellectually we are just not ready to implement what we “know”.

    I find it is often hard to observe myself. To help me with that I often ask for help from my friends, family, colleagues, coaches and mentors. The key here though is to only ask when you are really ready to hear their observations, especially when you have that sense that you are going to hear something you won’t like!

    I love your authenticity. It takes courage to share so openly the way you do. I always gain something valuable from your posts.

  29. Helen Romeo says:

    Brilliant, Nancy. After all, if one can’t get to the root of the behaviour (even after it’s acknowledged) then it’s better to change it to another, less harmful, displacement activity (in this case). Such as drinking water instead of eating bagels. But you’ve provided a great list! You are right about the diet, too, as I’ve changed from a standard diet to a fruit-veg protein-nuts diet to give myself more energy as a mum of 2 to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavours: day 10 and it seems to be working so far! Love the idea about the gym ball – pure genius!
    PS high fibre, low glycaemic index nut and seed bagels might be exempt from the Lucifer brand?!!
    Helen Romeo

  30. Helen Romeo says:

    Penelope, I wrote a comment and somehow lost it! If you send me your address on my email (you have it) I’ll send you a copy of the book I’ve written (currently at editing stage) on dealing with over-eating through mental processes and self-knowledge, i.e. changing the associations you give to food instead of the foods themselves to lose weight and keep it off. I have a past of compulsive behaviour, perfectionism, and bulimia, so I fully understand many of the difficulties involved. Try to change the associations you give to a bagel (you can imagine it stuffing up your insides or blocking your throat which isn’t very indicative of transition or calm any more) or else replace it as a calming vehicle with something like cammomile tea?! after all, now you are aware of the behaviour you are better placed to take action to eradicate it, as you say. Well done! Helen Romeo

  31. Jennifer says:

    I am also an ENTJ and I am a novel writing wantabe and a commodities executive — I swear you were writing about me exactly. Loved it! Thank you.

  32. Kathleen says:

    I think this is a great post, but especially powerful when read in conjunction with yesterday’s post about self confidence. So often, I think it can we easy to think we’ve figured out “our problem”, but feel adrift in identifying the solution. OR, we think we’ve got “the answer”, only to find it was the answer to a different problem! But, if we act with the self confidence of knowing and if we execute on one or the other, we still have the power to pull back and go in another direction if we don’t like how things are turning out. Thanks for making me think about his! Cheerios.

  33. Anna says:

    have you read “smart moves,” by carla hannaford? i think you may find it useful/interesting as the research speaks to the very real mind-body connection, that learning is truly a whole body phenomenon, and that a lot of diagnosed learning/mental disorders that we put a name to (i.e. ADHD, ADD, etc.) is often people who are in states of perpetual over-stress, which can be remedied by integrative movements, tapping into their strengths to learn, etc.

  34. Dee Relyea says:

    Penelope, I always enjoy your column in the WSJ like today’s “Tips for a more effective job search”. I just started reading your blog and find it insightful. I agree with you on the MBTI. It can be helpful to look at our natural tendencies and preferences. That said, there is a danger in self sabotaging by using our type as an excuse for our behaviors. As an ENFP, I am aware of the tendency to procrastinate (we P’s like to keep our options open ’til the very last minute), so I make a conscious effort to start projects early and create deadlines for myself. Considering the great work you do, I’m sure you use your knowledge of type to better navigate your life as well. Thanks for sharing!

    PS If any of you want to take the real MBTI online I can hook you up as I am qualified practitioner. dee@careerlifecoaching.com

  35. prklypr says:

    After following your link for the Myers-Briggs test and spending 15 minutes on the test, I was quite surprised to see that I would need to pay to see the results. You should make it clearer that this is a business, not a test you can take for free. I’ll keep my $39.95, thank you very much.

    • Ethan says:

      The linked site also abounds with misspellings, poor punctuation, garbled syntax, and occasionally hilarious misuse of words, e.g.: “A multi-media CD featuring a joyfully polygamous collage of people, music, text…”

      Nonetheless, the value of knowing your four-letter personality type is incalculable. You’d be a fool to make a major life decision, or any decision really, without knowing whether you’re a NPLQ, a ZFNX, or DPL7. So I say go for it! It will be $39.95 well spent.

    • Mark W. says:

      There’s another web site that I used (free) to get a general assessment of my personality type at http://www.personalitytype.com/quiz . The following text was copied from the web site – ” The assessment was created by Paul D. Tieger, internationally recognized expert and author Do What You Are, one of the best-selling career guides of all time, which has sold close to one million copies. A unique feature of the PersonalityType.com Assessment – „¢ is its ability to help users "verify" the accuracy of their personality type "preferences" as they complete the brief questionnaire. To date, over forty thousand people have characterized the assessment results as either "extremely" or "very" accurate.” I think if you really want more information you should have the test administered by a qualified professional and probably read some literature.

  36. Tyler Hayes says:

    Damn good post Penelope. Damn good.

  37. Dan says:

    Is it just me or is this blog dominated by females giving out blow jobs to the author? Does anyone EVER have anything critical to say, ever?

    It seems to me this lack of diversity and audience awareness by the author also happens to be what lead to her firing at yahoo finance.

    Also, is Asperger syndrome something made up by yuppies to feel better about themselves and their children? In reading the so called “symptoms,” I had to laugh as I, my daughter and everyone else in the world has had one or more of these at any given time. It’s called growing up and being a kid.

    LOL.

    • Matt Secor says:

      I’d imagine you don’t read this blog often, because Penelope at times gets large amounts of criticism.

      Your comment about Asperger syndrome comes across as very ignorant. According to Wikipedia, Asperger syndrome is characterized by “a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom.” Just as many people can have some symptoms of depression without actually being depressed, it’s possible to have symptoms of A.S. without having it.

    • Nora says:

      No, I personally think she’s crazier than a jail house rat.

  38. David says:

    Penelope,

    There are serious methodological problems with Meyers-Briggs, a better personality measure that is widely accepted by both psychometricians and psychologists who specialize in personality development is the Big 5 Personality scale, or OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism).

  39. anonymous says:

    I’m just a little perplexed how ENTJ score can be “compatible” with Asperger’s syndrome. There seems to be too many inconsistencies for someone to score a tick on both?

    However, that’s Penelope for you. Rich background – but struggles with funding/had to sell her pearls. Jewish family – but abused (beaten/sexually abused) by her father. Entrepreneur and CEO – but ex-bulimic, Asperger’s syndrome, had been hospitalised for mental problems. A career in public speaking but suffers from antisocial tendencies and lack of social awareness. Caught in a plague of bedbugs in New York as well as the aftermath of 9/11. Family woman but had been through a couple of abortions and divorcee. Is there anything this woman has not suffered from or done? And all contradictory, too! Mind you… that’s life, no?

  40. Eldon says:

    Penelope, I can’t tell you how much I like your blogs. The great honesty, common sense, clear vision, courage, and back to honesty. I always look for personal integrity in a person, whether as a friend, employee, co-worker or boss. Everything else — talent, intelligence, ambition, skill, training — can be corrupted. Personal integrity is the key difference and it’s the first thing I look for and the hardest thing to find. You’ve got it. Keep it.

  41. your twin in michigan says:

    Penelope – I have enjoyed reading your posts for a couple of years now, and I must say that your thoughts often mirror my own. You, however, state them much more eloquently and insightfully. I am a gen-x professional, a co-owner of a new business, and a wife and mother of 2 young boys. While I often harbor similar feelings, you are braver than I in verbalizing those feelings and thoughts and putting them out there for everyone to read, and to judge (the scarier part). Thank you for sharing.

  42. kriszha says:

    Excellent post Penelope :) you make me smile.

  43. Chelle says:

    It’s funny how we never really seem to realize what the problem actually is for a lot of things. Most problems aren’t that hard to solve once we figure out what they actually are. It’s when you’re stuck trying to figure out what’s wrong in a situation and you get stuck in a rut of trial and error and beating yourself up over it all when you can’t seem to fix it that makes it all so much worse than it really is.

    My son has been in therapy since he was about 2 years old – and I think sometimes that he’s here to help me learn more things I wouldn’t have known otherwise :)

  44. Bianca says:

    So…here’s my problem: my boss says I need to stop acting like a regular employee and start making decisions/thinking like an executive.

    How do I solve that problem?

  45. Kay Lorraine says:

    Penelope – A particularly wonderful post. Thanks, especially, for the info on spray tanning. Here all the time I thought I was fat when, in fact, I’m just melanin-challenged.

    Bianca – The first thing you need to do in order to start thinking like an executive is to stop asking your boss’s permission to do stuff. Dont’ “run it past him,” just do what you think needs to be done and if he questions it, tell him you made an “executive decision.”

  46. Ramblas says:

    Sadly I would say that is often as your last paragraph describes it, the solution is more complex than the problem.

  47. Professional Resume Writer says:

    Ha! I laughed at this. You described ME! I think I am much better at KNOWING my problems than solving them. I could sit and analyze them to death, but it doesn’t change the fact that after that, I am still going to make a big bowl of popcorn… sad.

    Erin

  48. Wayne Key says:

    Very thoughtful post. I have to say that tho I had taken all the tests on personality and such that for me the very best way to figure out what the test said was to get out there and do stuff. When you see your own tendancy to confidence manifest as over-confidence and you get slammed because of it when you could have strategized around it. Then you get it.

    Thanks for the good essay!

  49. Cathy says:

    Myers Briggs has no more validity than a horoscope (maybe less, depending on who you ask).
    See http://www.skepdic.com/myersb.html and also Annie Paul’s excellent book, The Cult of Personality.

    • Tyler Hayes says:

      No more than a horoscope? This is not the place for an MBTI debate but… really? Let’s not pussyfoot around euphemisms here, I guess.

      Also, that skepdic.com author seems to love the shotgun approach: just throw out as many arguments as possible and hope that something sticks. To name a few logical errors, there are blatantly unprecedented claims, as well as libel, association fallacy, and argument from ignorance.

      Since you were so bold, let me be equally brash: you’re wrong. And you’re arrogant about it, just like me as a matter of fact. It’s impolite to leave comments like that. Would you just walk up to a conversation among new strangers and say that, and then walk away? I sure hope not.

      Sorry I just ripped you apart, though I do expect you will return the favor; because if it turns out I’m wrong (which is always a possibility!), I’d like you to point it out.

  50. Kate says:

    Wow. Now I don’t feel so weird for over planning my transitions. I do it especially when I am going from something I am comfortable or like, to something less enjoyable or relaxing.

    I find the Meyrs Briggs very helpful. I particularly find it helpful in communicating with my colleagues when I am having a bad day. I know that I am angry because of the way I am built (INTJ), that I hate going over and over the tiny details, that I hate changed decisions/input/criticism after the decision has been made, and that I hate explaining my thought process if it takes more than a minute, not because they are mean or stupid. And then I can acknowledge that they have their own conversational quirks, etc. And I can relax.

    I find it interesting to take it every now and then and see how my precentages change – last time I got S instead of N. I still find social situations stressful, but no longer difficult. Knowing that makes me much more relaxed and confident.

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