I was and continue to be interested in how much of our destiny we have control over. I’ve done some reading on genetics, neuroscience, and a little less on social science to get a little perspective, but I am far, far from being an expert and having and any strongly held beliefs. I have also taken a couple different types of personality tests to give an indication of what I’m working with on the inherent traits side. I understand there are limitations and strong reasons not to get too attached to your classification. Although I would not put these tests in the same category as tarot cards or astrology, I think that’s good advice.
Like I mentioned, I am interested in how much of what ultimately becomes of your life is within your control. I don’t know why – maybe I am looking for an elaborate excuse for why I’m not President of the United States. Or why I can’t control my temper or maintain my composure during high stress situations despite my best efforts. But I think about it, and sometimes try to create a hierarchy of factors and weigh them according to their expected contributions related to what you turn into. You could stack them to create a weighted average, but I haven’t tried that am probably getting ahead of myself. You can then evaluate yourself – based on what you were born into and what you’ve done – to see what you maximum potential is relative to perfect.
There are some obvious limitations to this approach. Namely, what is the criteria for perfection? This is going to be different person to person. I would argue that if never going hungry and being safe are the criteria, the job is almost done for you based on the life lottery. If you are more ambitious or trying to over come uncontrollable disadvantages, experience and your decisions factor in, but not every person aspires for the same goals, so what does it mean? I am starting to think this might be a completely pointless exercise – what have I been doing! But let’s finish it up, and then I will share my Myers-Briggs and Big 5. I’ve already posted those once so I have time to kill anyway.
Life factors – listed in order of importance.
- Physical and physiological health – I would say this is the foundational piece. Regardless of the circumstances you are born into, being born with physical or mental limitations is going to profoundly affect your options in life to varying degrees. This is uncontrollable
- Country of Birth – part one of the life lottery. If you are born in the US it’s unlikely that you are going to starve. This is uncontrollable
- Family – your specific circumstances. The stability and wealth of your family. Their commitment to raising you. This is uncontrollable
- Your temperament and personality traits – inborn. This is what today’s entry is going to focus on. This is uncontrollable
- Early life experiences – I’ve read that 0-5 are your true formative days, but you continue to develop your wiring until you are about 25 years old. After that, you because pretty locked into your ways, and it takes a substantial effort to change at the margins. This is uncontrollable
- Luck – not luck from the standpoint of what you’re born into and with, but luck that happens to you as you are living out your life. Being in the right place at the right time. Avoiding calamity, etc. This is uncontrollable.
- Your efforts – making plans, adapting, having perseverance, being a nice person. The byproducts of what you actually do in your life. This is uncontrollable
Before I list out any more factors, I want to try to clarify the point of this, to the extent that there is a point. The uncontrollable factors are what set your baseline. Let’s assume 80% or life is set for you without any input from you. But you have full control over the last 20% through your actions. That would tell you that nobody is a self-made man or woman. Everyone is reaping the benefits, or feeling the effects of things that they have no control over. I feel like this reality is ignored or glossed over in most of our hero mythologies. The flip side is, regardless of where you start, even if you’re at 20/80 for example, you have the opportunity to improve through your actions in day-to-day life. There is always a range, with room on the upside to move up irrespective of the starting point. I also think this is idea is not widely acknowledged. Yes the starting lines are not equal, but everyone can move up. Focus only on the controllable part, and be at peace with the lack of control over the rest. Is that the takeaway? I think many would argue that type of attitude is defeatist, and it would be preferable to think you can shape the world. I should check what I just wrote there – my perspective is that of a US citizen, and I assumed that everyone has the same opportunity to improve their life in other countries. I think that assumption is pretty naive – perhaps this is the American Dream in real practice? It’s certainly not that we’re all equal at the start and have the exact same opportunities to reach the pinnacle (knowing that the pinnacle is going to be different for different people!). It’s that you can improve your standing if you work and do the right things. You have the opportunity to improve here, which you may not have in our countries. I see extremists on both sides – people ignoring the benefits they receive from the start and claiming that they themselves are solely responsible for their position in life. And others saying they have no chance to get out of their disadvantaged position despite their best efforts. It’s not going to be possible for the starting line to be the same for all people, but that’s what we should be working towards I guess?
Ok, this is some late night dorm room type dribble. I’m sorry, maybe I should have clarified what my points and positions were before starting. To wrap this up, I would say you are bound into a range based on things outside of your control, so you can’t take yourself too seriously, one way or the other. But you can and still should focus on what you can do since that does have an impact on things, and probably will keep you sane and keep you away from falling into nihilism.
To bring this all the way back around to me – it’s all about me! I was born healthy, in the United States, to a family that lived in a decent neighborhood, so I have an enormous advantage I can never dispute. I would say people born into the circumstances I was have a very high floor for life – I can make myself miserable, but I should never go hungry. Ok, to finish it – my genetics and temperament are acceptable, but far from great and provide my first real limitation. This will be covered next. My early life experiences were also far from great, which I think still has a deep-rooted affect on the way I interact with the world today. I am not going to detail this portion, sorry. My luck, and efforts to date have been acceptable. I am not exactly sure how I would rate them on a scale, maybe average to slightly above? There is always going to be some subjectivity there, but I have had no catastrophic luck at least, which obviously can derail an otherwise promising future.
Can I weave together all of these factors and explain where I am today? I did good enough with the things in my control to allow myself to live a pretty comfortable, but maybe uninspiring life with extremely limited physical or mental duress? I would say it was already written when I was born – I haven’t excelled nor have I botched anything. My decisions and luck have put me in the middle of distribution, which is probably where someone making a projection of my life would have put me if they were doing a life simulation for me as a baby! Ok, I’ve come all the way back around to nothing matters, better stop now.
That was a long preamble. I just wanted to give perspective on my personality, but maybe it was useful to put that perspective in a larger perspective? The personality info affects how I perceive things. Maybe the first filter, then another one based on my life experiences, and another one based on what’s happening with my physiology at that moment, etc. But I would say it’s something that is ever-present.
I worry a little after taking these types of tests and getting results it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You become what the test tells you are, you start to connect your behavior to the traits after the fact, and so on. You create stories. So I don’t know if these reports are really indicative of what or who I am, or if I have just convinced myself of the same. Here they are anyway. Reposting from my Jan 7, 2020 entry. (Personality Macros).
Myers Briggs Results
I can’t find the results of the test unfortunately, but in terms of extremes, introversion and thinking. Intuition and judgement were more moderate.
I have seen many people debunk this test and I haven’t done enough research on it myself to hold a strong opinion. What I have seen and read about the limitations made me a little weary. So take the paragraphs below, which I ripped from an MBTI website (www.16personalities.com) with a grain of salt.
2% of the population (of the US I’m assuming but not sure)
Strengths – Quick, Imaginative, Strategic. High Self-Confidence. Hard-Working and Determined.
Weaknesses – Arrogant. Judgmental. Overly Analytical. Clueless in Romance.
Fictional villains are often modeled after this personality type. 🙁
Famous INTJs – Elon Musk, Nietzche, Vladimir Putin, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Colin Powell.
OCEAN / Big 5 Results
I found less criticism of the Big 5 personalty test than I have of the MBTI. When I first took this one I was pretty shocked by how blunt the assessment was. It staggered me a little to be honest, and left me feeling some self-pity. Nothing’s my fault, I’m stuck with this personality! Once I got over the initial disappointment I came back to my senses and came to the conclusion that it’s better to know, whether or not I am thrilled with the results. And I should focus on figuring out the best way to work with what I have, versus moaning about how I wish I had other things. There’s some ancient wisdom for you. Thanks Stoics. My results are below.
O – 45%
C – 75%
E – 22%
A – 5%
N – 97%
Agreeableness 5%– I am very low in agreeableness. Stubborn, dominant, harsh, skeptical, competitive. This trait can be further broken into two aspects: compassion and politeness.
Compassion 5%– I am very low in compassion. I am less orientated to the problems of others.
Politeness 12%– I am low in politeness. Not deferential to authority, not obedient.
Conscientiousness 75%– I am moderately high in conscientiousness, the primary dimension of dutiful achievement. I work reasonably hard and don’t waste time. I would make a competent manager or administrator. Committed to the idea of personal responsibility. Two aspects: Industriousness and orderliness.
Industriousness 56%– I am average in industriousness. Basically a 50/50 – Usually do your duty, but sometimes put things off.
Orderliness 84%– I am high in orderliness. Dislike mess and chaos. Can be a negative when working in creative spaces, where chaos and disruption are needed to do something new.
Extraversion 22%– I am moderately low in extraversion, the positive driver of positive emotion. I am high in introversion is another way of putting it. Not particularly talkative or gregarious. Find excessive social contact draining and tiring. Less optimistic about the past, present, and future. Two aspects: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness.
Enthusiasm 6%– I am very low in enthusiasm. Quiet and un-excitable. Difficult for others to get to know. Tend to talk only about things that you find exceptionally interesting. Prefer solitude.
Assertiveness 58%– I am typical in assertiveness.
Neuroticism 92%– I am very high in neuroticism, which is the primary dimension of negative emotion. Unhappy, anxious, and irritable when thinking or remembering. Can interfere with relationships and career. More focused on maintaining current status than enhancing it. Two aspects: withdrawal and volatility.
Withdrawal 76%– I am moderately high in withdrawal. Higher than average levels of anticipatory anxiety – causing one to avoid or withdraw from the unknown. More likely to feel sad, lonesome, disappointed, and grief-stricken. Once hurt or frightened, it can take longer to recover.
Emotional Volatility 97%– I have exceptionally high emotional volatility. Can be easily stirred up, and once agitated can take a long time to calm down. Can be argumentative and can lose composure easily.
Openness To Experience 45%– I am typical in openness to experience, the primary dimension of creativity, artistic interest and intelligence. As smart and creative as others. Normal range of interests and a reasonable vocabulary. Can adopt well to situations and occupations that are routinized and predictable. Two aspects: Intellect and Openness.
Intellect 60%– I have moderate intellect. Not in an IQ sense, but in terms of interest in abstract ideas.
Openness 32%– I am moderately low in openness. Closest synonym for openness is creativity. People low in openness do not find beauty particularly important. Less imaginative. Quite stable and conventional. At least moderate levels of openness tend to be necessary for entrepreneurial success.
56 Minutes. 2349 Words.