Inspiration, Motivation and MBTI (Part II)

In my last post, we explored how those with an ESTJ and ENTJ preference are inspired. Now, let’s delve into what fuels inspiration for individuals with an ISTP and INTP preference. These two MBTI types share the dominant function of introverted thinking.  You’ll see how these individuals also have a Thinking preference, yet are inspired very differently from someone with an ESTJ or ENTJ preference.

Introverted thinking is best described as adhering to impersonal principles and analyzing a problem using a framework. Typically the pros and cons are calculated and a solution will be selected after all considerations are explored. Let me give you a great example of introverted thinking from a particularly amusing experience I’ve heard of. A client I was working with described his reaction to his wife seeing a bug and demanding the bug be killed immediately! He described the situation as a great example of his need to categorize before acting. He and his wife live in a rural area with unfortunately – many bugs. When his wife saw a bug, she would demand that he kill it. He said he needed to first determine what kind of bug it is, how it got inside, is it more of a ‘friend or foe,’ what is the best method to kill it and how he would dispose of it. To him, it seemed illogical to kill the bug before finding out this necessary information to use moving forward with other bugs, and the ability to kill the bug instantly was slowed by his natural desire to categorize and analyse (which, to the discontent of his wife, usually did not result in the bug’s immediate demise).

The primary differentiator between using your Thinking preference internally versus externally is where your focus is aimed.  Those with an ISTP and INTP preference do their best work internally. That is, they are at their best when they can pause and weigh the pros and cons or mentally play devil’s advocate before making a decision.  This is quite different from extraverted thinking, with those who prefer to act externally quickly and decisively.

Despite different backgrounds, cultures, careers and family environments, people I’ve interacted with having an ISTP and INTP preference seem to have very similar stories and examples of how they are inspired. These are just a few quotes that ring true for so many with this preference:

“I am inspired when I am allowed the freedom to play devil’s advocate. Often my co-workers have their mind made up and I feel I have so much to offer by being objective, and parking my opinion temporarily, until I completely consider all sides of the position. This objectivity inspires me to never give up until I discover the truth.”

“I feel very inspired when others recognize my honest pursuit of the right answer.  I’ve been told I have the best poker face. I take that as a complement, because it describes my true commitment to having no alliance to an opinion, until I’ve exhausted all possible positions.”

Now let’s shift gears and discuss those with a Feeling preference.  Individuals with an ENFJ and ESFJ preference are inspired in very different ways from someone with an INFP or ISFP preference. People with an ENFJ and ESFJ preference share the dominant function of Extraverted feeling. This is best described as making decisions and organizing the environment to support people and promote harmony. An example of using Extraverted feeling in daily life is the difficulty in saying NO.  A friend of mine with this preference seems to volunteer for many extracurricular activities at work as well as at home and in the community. At work, he organizes company parties and celebrations. At home he always seems to be the one volunteering to help out with school functions. This is all above and beyond his normal day to day responsibilities.  Here are a couple of quotes that paint the picture of what is inspiring for someone with an ENFJ or ESFJ preference:

“I am inspired when I feel needed by others. I feel a rush of adrenalin when I see an opportunity to help someone. I will go out of my way to do things for others, even at the expense of my own needs. This is what drives me, helping others!  Seeing someone in need is all the fuel I need for immediate inspiration!”

“I feel especially inspired when I have an opportunity to work on a team. I prefer not to work alone because I do my best thinking through discussion with others. I have a knack for bringing enthusiasm to a team and helping others see common ground. Given this opportunity, my inspiration is bubbling over.”


In contrast to how those with Extraverted feeling promote harmony, those with an INFP or ISFP preference use their feeling preference internally. Introverted feeling is best described as making decisions based on carefully considered, clear personal value systems.  This is uniquely different from the external focus of making decisions based on the greater good. An example of using Introverted feeling in daily life is having a nonnegotiable stance when someone crosses your values. A friend of mine with this preference exudes a peaceful and calming demeanour, yet will take a stand when she sees her neighbor not recycling. Her neighbor declared a commitment to recycling, but did not follow through. My friend began sorting out the recyclable items for her and was very vocal about her disappointment for the lack of commitment and follow through for recycling.

Here are a couple of quotes from friends and co-workers that really helped me to see into their minds – what truly inspires someone with an INFP or ISFP preference:

“I am incredibly inspired when my contributions at home and at work are in perfect alignment with my values. If I am living my values, living authentically, there is no limit to my passion.”

“I am most inspired when others treat me with respect and ask what is important to me. I am discouraged seeing others just go along with the majority. When I see an injustice, I am unstoppable in pursuit of what is right. Having an opportunity to stand up for what I believe is right, gives me inspiration.”

We explored using Thinking and Feeling both internally and externally. All four of these functions are about decision making (Thinking and Feeling preferences are about making decisions, while Sensing and Intuitive preferences are about taking in information).

If your MBTI type has been discussed in the blogs so far, you are likely inspired by a decision making process.  If however, gathering information, being in the moment or exploring new ideas seem to fuel your motivations and inspire you, the upcoming blogs are just for you! We will explore in the next blog what those with an ESFP or ESTP find inspiring. Then I’ll describe the contrast for ISTJ and ISFJ. Stay tuned!