I have been making poor decisions lately. Well-intentioned, intensively thought-out decisions that not only have yielded terrible results but also left me with the feeling that I had knotted the double helix of my DNA into a finality that fundamentally changed who I was. This feeling was more like an anchor that stalled any ironic desire I had to create change in my respective personal, professional and social spaces. It was a purposeful pursuit to innovate that exposed just how ineffective I could be as a manager of change, how uninspiring I could be as a storyteller and how doggedly stubborn I could be as a competitive human being. So much for innovative leadership.
I’d like to pause here and clarify:
I‘VE MADE A MISTAKE!!
I’d like to pause again and applaud. If I led you to believe that the world was going to end, I’m sorry, you’ll have to take that up with Jesus. Sometimes mistakes may feel like the sky is falling, but it’s not. It’s just rain. And just like rain, mistakes happen all the time, especially in the rapid prototyping phase of design thinking, which celebrates the learning, growth and progress that mistakes achieve. Only instead of redesigning physical products like an umbrella, I was actively ideating multiple versions of myself to test new, different and unproven methods of my decision-making process. As a result, I made awful choices that exposed tremendous flaws in my over-thinking and under-execution. I became increasingly uncertain about my abilities and skeptical of my surroundings. Doubt was slowly turning my humility into fear, and gut instincts into second guesses. These weaknesses were compounded by my subconscious effort to ignore them i.e. not write about them here, in this space–a place I had created for myself for the very purpose of addressing change in real time. In my quest to do things differently, I had failed to honestly assessed the results (mistakes) from my operational behavior beta tests. If I had, I would have realized two things:
1) I was creating change without the slightest clue for how to manage it.
2) I was attempting to solve a problem that didn’t actually exist.
But I was in subconscious denial, and couldn’t even feel that my curiosity for the New and Improved was leading me not on a path of innovation, but of down a spiral of destruction. Instead of breakthroughs, I was experiencing breakdowns. This is why it is so important to give yourself that space to review and assess your stage performance with food for thought. Invite yourself to the table and have a conversation that will surrender your ego to the unnerving awkwardness of staring into the very eyes that inexplicably determine both your vision and perspective. Settle here with your questions. Let the light refract and reflect. Be stark-raving vulnerable with your mirror image answer.
For me, that’s ENFP, according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment.
E: Extraversion. I prefer to focus on the outer world of people and activity
N: iNtuition. I prefer to take in information from patterns and the big picture, and focus on future possibilities.
F: Feeling. I prefer to make decisions based primarily on values and on subjective consideration of person-centered concerns.
P: Perceiving. I prefer to like a flexible and spontaneous approach to life and want to keep my options open.
Notice that these are all things that I prefer. It is no wonder then that I have been struggling lately — I have been playing against these strengths, actively sabotaging these preferences for the sake of exploring different methods, processes and procedures. I was fearless in creating change and excited to explore the unknown, but became frightened once I realized how deep I had dove into my weaknesses; panicked that I didn’t know how to operate with those cards in play. Instead of being curious about my surroundings, I became repetitively bogged down in all of my interactions, super careful not to impress upon it in any way. Instead of recognizing patterns, analyzing trends and making connections, I was using my senses to pigeonhole me in the here and now, without making any inferences that would link me to a better tomorrow. Instead of having empathy, meeting people where they were, and understanding their points of view, I became dismissive of any logic that fell outside the scope of my own, over-analyzing cause and effect relationships that zapped me into clever objectivity and robbed me of my human-centered values. Instead of letting the game unfold spontaneously, I was deliberately trying to plan everything out ahead of time. I called this a strategy, and recently wrote about how important it was to have one, but it really was an organized way of settling my frustrations into boxes that did anything but liberate. At least, I just prefer have a loose plan. I’d rather just be prepared, and this is something I feel most comfortable with when change is not managed by stability and structure, but embraced in flexibility and resilience.
When I got the results from my MBTI assessment, I realized that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with me, my approach, or the fact that I had made mistakes. This self-awareness tool provided clarity, and by design, validated my preferences when making decisions. Here is where it gets even more interesting. According to MBTI, the way you make decisions is either by Thinking or Feeling. On a scale of 30, I was only a +2 in Feeling, which means I am right smack in the middle between Thinking and Feeling. I can deduce that my preference for decision-making is highly dependent upon a given situation. That I can be just as good making decisions primarily upon logic and objective analysis as I can make sound decisions with my gut and intuition. It becomes problematic when I rely entirely too much on one than the other. I run the risk of expressing tough love that undercuts collaboration, or I become highly emotional and overwhelming. And this is perhaps my biggest weakness–knowing how, when, and to which degree I strike that balance. After all, we’re talking about making decisions, something that innovative leaders are expected to do well. Something that I am glad to have failed at so early on. But I can conclude that the +2 is proven. Given my history of decision-making, my intuitive feelings have never steered me wrong. It always gets complicated when my head tries to outsmart my heart.
So this is how the spark for innovation can turn into self-combustion. I figuratively set myself on fire, in the self-consumed way that never catches with anything else. Just you, burning out. There is a lot to be learned from the smoldering. Mostly, how you need oxygen if you are ever going to ignite innovative ideas with others. Air is the medium for so many things, I can’t believe I almost forgot. I at least had the foresight to tattoo it to my wrist — an intuitive feeling that defied any logic — knowing that I would need to be reminded. And even when that’s not enough, God will send me real life messengers who say,
“That is the most beautiful tattoo I have ever seen in my life. The placement, the font, the meaning. It’s just beautiful.”
There’s no mistaking this one. My name is Kristen and I’m an ENFP. I pursue inspiration with impulsive energy.