Perhaps the most important realization that an individual can make in their quest for personal growth is that there is no single formula that defines the path to personal success. We all have different goals and priorities, which means that different activities and attitudes will make us feel good about ourselves. We also have different natural strengths and weaknesses that are a part of our inherent personality type. How then, as individuals, can we feel successful in our lives?


Understand What's Important to You

Each personality type has a different idea of what it means to be successful. Self-knowledge is one common goal that will help everyone achieve personal success. So many people are hung up on somebody else's idea of what it means to be successful, and they are unaware of what is truly important to them. This is completely normal. We all have important role-models and influencers in our lives who may have basic values that are quite different from our own. If this is the case, it's important to recognize that the discrepancy between what we have been taught is truly important and what we personally believe to be truly important is due to a difference in perspective. If we spend our time and effort trying to meet somebody else's idea of success, and ignore or belittle any conflicting messages from our own psyche, then we will find ourselves exhausted and unhappy. Realizing what is truly important to us is a major step towards achieving personal success.


Recognize Your Weaknesses Without Hiding Behind Them

While improving our self-knowledge and realizing our true goals can be very liberating, we should not discard the rules of the society in which we live. We must recognize that other people's value systems are no less important than our own. And we must recognize and accept that we live in a society in which certain personality types and behaviors are more suited towards particular tasks. This is the second key that will open the door towards personal growth.

For example, there are situations in which it is more appropriate and effective to show compassion and caring (Feeling), rather than impersonal logic (Thinking). Likewise, there are situations that call for using impersonal logic to make a decision, in which the more subjective viewpoint of the Feeling function is inappropriate and ineffective. Persons with a preference for Feeling will have a natural advantage over Thinkers in situations that require compassion and awareness of other's emotions. Conversely, persons with a preference for Thinking will have a natural advantage over Feelers in situations that require the ability to make a decision based on impersonal data.

As we learn about our personality type and the types of others, we are empowered with an understanding of why people react differently in different situations. When put into the context of Psychological Type, we can better accept and understand people's behaviors that are different from ours. These insights are extremely useful and powerful to us as individuals. However, if we are concerned with growing as individuals, we must take care not to use personality type as an excuse for our inappropriate behavior. While it's powerful and useful to notice that another person's inappropriate behavior may be due to their personality type, we cannot use the same reasoning on ourselves. We should recognize that our personality type has weaknesses, but we must use that knowledge to conquer those weaknesses rather than to excuse poor behavior. We cannot be responsible for other people's behavior, but we can control our own.

Accordingly, if we notice that someone seems to be unable to make an impersonal decision that is isolated from human perspective, we should say to ourselves, "Ah ha, here is a Feeler. This person does not use Thinking well, and that is why they're behaving this way." Yet when we as Feelers are presented with a situation that requires an impersonal approach, we should NOT say to ourselves "I am a Feeler, and can't be expected to make decisions based purely on impersonal facts and logic." This kind of rationalization for behavior is certainly an easy way out of a situation, but it enforces the weakness, making it weaker and weaker still.


Strive for Balance

Most of the weaknesses associated with any given personality type are a result of that type's dominant function overtaking the personality to the extent that the other functions become slaves to the dominant function. Although it is natural for every personality to be ruled by its dominant function, it becomes a problem when the supporting functions are not allowed to develop fully on their own because they are too busy "serving the master". In such cases, a personality can become quite imbalanced.

A situation in which the dominant function of a personality completely overshadows the other personality functions is analogous to a kingdom that is ruled by an overbearing king who requires absolute servitude. Imagine such a king sitting down to dinner in his castle. He keeps all of his servants running about to bring him dinner, and requires that they serve him fully (disregarding their own needs) until he is completed sated. His Foreign Minister, who is expected at an important affair at a neighboring kingdom, finds himself pouring ale. His Minister of Domestic Affairs, rather than addressing the issue of a failing economy, slices roast turkey. His staff grabs food for themselves here and there, but never get what they really need or want, and are consequently unsatisfied, malnourished, and underdeveloped. The issues that the staff should be taking care of are left undone, because they never finish their primary task of serving the king. The king's immediate needs are being met, and so he is tolerably happy, but he is an ineffective king. As far as he knows, everything and everybody exists simply to serve him. He has no concept of Success beyond his daily needs. Since he cannot see beyond his own needs, the entire kingdom suffers.

Likewise, a personality that has developed with a goal of serving the dominant function above all other considerations often results in a person who is imbalanced. In severe cases, the weaknesses associated with the given type are often quite apparent to others, and overshadow the individual's natural strengths. Such a drastic imbalance is not common, and may be the result of continuous and extreme stress. Most people will experience times in their lives during which they are stressed to the point of serious imbalance. People who experience this constantly have issues that need to be dealt with, and should seek help.

Much more commonly, we see individuals who exhibit both the strengths and weaknesses of their type. It is natural and healthy that each personality type is ruled by a dominant function, and that the other functions support the ruling function. We don't seek to change anyone's natural self, or to achieve a perfect balance amongst a personality's functions. By definition, a kingdom needs a king in order to exist, and a personality needs a dominant function. However, a kingdom with a well-developed and effective king (the dominant function), who has well-trained and educated advisors (the supporting functions), will thrive more than the kingdom ruled by a neglectful king who is supported by inexperienced advisors.

As we can see, Balance and Success are relative terms. They have different meaning for each of the sixteen personality types. One statement using these terms is true for all types: Balance is the key to Success.


Opening the Door

So how do we go about realizing what's truly important to us? How do we recognize our weaknesses, and learn not to hide behind them? How do we become balanced? How do we open that magical door that will show us the way to personal growth and success?

There is no quickie scheme that will make you a successful person. Psychological Type is a powerful aid in our quest for excellence, but it is not the actual solution. It is a model that will help you to expand your understanding of human nature. An improved understanding of yourself and others will help you to find, follow or expand your path. An awareness and acceptance of the fact that one personality function may be more effective than another function in a given situation will help you to understand the relevance of personal growth to your life.

Carl Jung identified a process of personal growth that he called individuation, which is essentially the conscious realization of your true self, beyond the Ego that is presented by your conscious self. Our efforts to help people develop themselves is essentially the effort to help them to realize that their personal perspectives and conscious ideas are only a small part of who they are, and that the more they try to develop and defend this superficial "self", the further they get away from their true Self. This realization helps a psyche in many concrete ways, and is also a positive step towards promoting a psyche that is open to the process of individuation.

"There is only one corner of the Universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self "

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  • Feed Your Strengths! Let your talent for recognising harmony and balance spill out into the world around you, show your gifts to the world. Allow yourself to take opportunities to design, reorganise and rebalance things to make your home and work environments better for yourself and others. Find work or a hobby which allows you to realise these strengths.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Show Emotions: Your inferior functions want you to be still a child inside, and that makes you run, that makes you want to prove yourself even more. You don't have to prove anything to anyone in this regard. Everyone feel emotion and everyone is a little child inside. Find those people whose eyes tell you that you are not alone, and let them hear your child's voice.
  • Face Your Weaknesses! See your weaknesses for what they are, and seek to overcome them. Realize and accept that some things are never going to be how you would like them to be. Understand that other peoples feelings are sometimes more important than whether they are right or wrong. Facing and dealing with discord or differences in others doesn't mean that you have to change who you are; it means that you are giving yourself opportunities to grow. By facing your weaknesses, you honour your true self and that of others.
  • Talk Through Your Thoughts. You need to step through your vast amount of information in order to put things into perspective. Give yourself appropriate time to do this, and take advantage of discussing ideas with others. Some find that externalizing your thoughts is a valuable exercise, as is expressing your ideas clearly in writing.
  • Take in Everything. Don't dismiss ideas prematurely because you don't respect the person generating the ideas, or because you think you already know it all. After all, everybody has something to offer, and nobody knows everything. As Steven Covey says, "Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
  • "Quench Your Desire to Control Others. Remember that most people do not want to be controlled. Again, turn your controlling tendencies inwardly rather than outwardly. You can only really control yourself.
  •  Don't Be too hasty. Try to let things settle before you make a judgement, allowing others to discover the best for themselves while you feel your way into their way of seeing things.
  • Be Aware of Others. Take time to notice where others are coming from. What is their personality type? How are they currently feeling?
  • Discover the World of Others: Don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you always know what is right for others. Open your heart to the possibility of understanding that their true needs are something that must be discovered through relationship, and recognition that their world might be very different, yet just as valid as your own.
  • Be Accountable for Yourself. Don't blame the problems in your life on other people. Look inwardly for solutions.Be Gentle in Your Expectations, and judge yourself at least as harshly as you judge others.
  • Look Carefully at the World: Remember, things are not always what they seem on the surface. You might need to look deeper to discover the truth, particularly when it seems you are sure of your first quick judgement. There are layers of meaning and truth beneath everything.
  • Try to Let others Take Some of the Load: By letting others help, you are not letting things get out of control, but are validating their own need to be a part of your life. Remember, it is better to guide another to see your point of view than keeping them out of the picture.
  • Be Accountable to Others: Remember that they need to understand you and your needs too. Express your feelings and reasons and let them become partners to your goals.
  • Don't Hem Yourself in: Staying in your comfort zone is self defeating in the end. Try to make every day one where you get out and discover a little something different about the world and others. This will broaden your horizons and bring new ideas and opportunities into focus.
  • Express Your Feelings. Don't let unexpressed emotions build up inside of you. If you have strong feelings, sort them out and express them, Don't let them build up inside you to the point where they become unmanageable!
  • Smile at Criticism. Remember that people will not always agree with you or understand you, even if they value you greatly. Try to see disagreement and criticism as an opportunity for growth. In fact, that is exactly what it is.
  • Recognize the Differences in Others: Realize that everyone is different, not just a little different, but very different. Everyone has their place and value. You need to notice those values and places, places where you cannot easily fit. You can learn from these people, for they have gifts you can use, gifts they offer simply by being who they are. Try figuring out their psychological type for yourself and notice how certain types can lift you out of negative feelings just by being who they are.
  • ​Be Aware that You can Fail, and that it is OK: Not every mountain can be climbed, not every customer will be satisfied, no matter how hard you try or no matter what tricks you bring to bear. Getting beaten is an opportunity to reflect upon what is important, what really matters in life. Next time you will take up a challenge more worthy of your skills, and more valuable to others. You can be a champion, and it will be at your own game. Try to let it be a game of life, where everyone wins if you do.

  • Assume the Best. Don't distress yourself and others by dwelling on the dark side of everything. Just as there is a positive charge for every negative charge, there is a light side to every dark side. Remember that positive situations are created by positive attitudes, and vice versa. Expect the best, and the best will come forward. Don't wait for others to live up to your expectations. Every person has a goldmine of worth in them, just as every situation can be turned to some good. If you let yourself believe this, you will find yourself discovering ways to make it true for you.
  • Be Yourself in Relationships: Don't expect yourself to be a "touchy-feely" or "warm fuzzy" person. Realize that your most ardent bonds start with the head, rather than the heart. You expect your actions to speak for themselves to your loved ones. This may not be enough for some. Be aware of other's emotional needs, and express your genuine love and respect for them in terms that are real to YOU. Be yourself.
  • When You Get Angry, You Lose: Your passion for your principles is admirable, but becomes destructive when you fall into the "Anger Trap." Remember that Anger is destructive to personal relationships, and can be extremely hurtful to others. Work through your anger before you unleash it upon others. Disagreements and disappointments can only be handled effectively in a non-personal and dispassionate manner.

  • There is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself. Sometimes it's necessary to take a risk to initiate change. Don't be afraid to do so when that time comes. In most cases, the obstacles and burdens standing in the way of your goal are not really there--they just exist in your perspective. Change your perspective--change your life.
  • When in Doubt, Ask for Help!: Don't let your sense of self sufficiency leave you on the horns of a dilemma or lead you into disaster. If you are uncertain of something or someone then get input from others you trust.
  • Talk Through the Facts or write them down. You need to step through the facts in order to define good principles to live by. Verbalizing them or putting them down on paper may be a valuable tool for you.