Archive for June, 2009

posted by VJ on Jun 15

YESI rented the movie “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey last week.

It’s not a brilliant film — but it’s a good-enough film.  I love its message.

Since viewing it, I notice I’ve been assigning clients to watch it as “homework.”  I hear myself say to them, “You must see this film.”   Obviously some part of me thinks the wisdom of this movie is vitally important for them to experience.  (It sure isn’t because I’m getting a kickback for every DVD rental sale.)

Now I’ll be honest:  after giving it a bit of thought, I daresay the “Yes Man” approach is most likely a reflection of the Get-Things-Going interaction style.

In contrast, the INFJ interaction style of Chart-the-Course (if I were to characterize it) probably looks more like “NO Man.”  It tends to be the overall polar opposite of the Get-Things-Going style, and we know these two styles tend to cause each other stress.

I learned this firsthand, by the way — long before I knew a thing about type.  Many years ago I took an improv class in Los Angeles, and they taught me that the first rule of improv is to say “YES and…” to whatever happens onstage.  If out of the blue your improv partner should claim that you are a Lithuanian lumberjack, you’d better start swinging an ax and begin speaking with a faux Lithuanian accent.  Never say “no” to anything in improv!

During one class, our wily instructor assigned me to go onstage with my scene partner, pretend to stuff envelopes, and whatever he said — regardless of how crazy it was — each response I gave must begin with the phrase, “YES!  And…” after which I was expected to build on his statement and fire something brilliant back at him.

It was among the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life!  I’m pretty sure smoke came out of my ears, and there was a perceptible smell of burning wires from my brain.  It called on more extraverted intuiting than I was able to muster.  My unfortunate tendency was to resist *everything*.

In fact, I was sooo challenged by this unnerving “yes and” concept that I failed the class!  To my credit, I took it a second time because I was determined to pass.  And I’m glad I did, because it’s become a vital skill in my coaching, my presenting, and my acting.  I think training in improv skills should be required learning for every INFJ.  (I really do.)

Now, I want to take care not to praise any interaction style as being the BEST style, and the one that *everybody* should try to be.  That would be highly inappropriate, and it’s not my point.

However, it is possible to over-use our innate style.  And that can limit us — even stunt our growth.

I recently came across this intriguing quote:  “Never become the prisoner of a preconceived plan.” -William Zinsser

Have you ever done that?  I have!  I’ve been there.  Christmas is when I tend to have that experience of getting “trapped” by a vision I had that isn’t working so well in reality.

This is exactly what can happen when we become TOO attached to our Chart-the-Course interaction style.  We miss out on opportunity; we avoid our attraction to novelty; our lives begin to feel stale and boring.  We lose touch with the very things that make us feel alive!

It’s a paradox I suppose.  On the one hand, we love predictability, stability.  We treasure the time we take to withdraw and formulate our deliberated plans.  We can’t help ourselves from trying to anticipate what will happen and plan/prepare for it.  We’re good scouts.

AND… this same gift can become a curse when our lives become over-structured, over-planned, and no room remains for spontaneity and new possibility.  We may become rigid and inflexible when we are living too much into our natural preferences, our beloved comfort zone.  It becomes a bane rather than a boon.

Worst of all, our best gift of iNtuition Ironically craves novelty.  Chaos actually provides us with opportunities to structure and do what we’re best at.  So it’s a paradox!  If we don’t design our lives to honor *both* planning and spontaneity, we feel dead.  (The older we get, the truer this becomes.)

YES2“Yes Man” is a wonderful reminder to INFJs to stop and smell the roses / coffee / soup — whatever’s cooking — and say YES to life.  We have natural planning skills, and we can handle whatever happens.  Really we can.  With that in mind, it’s okay to once in a while throw some caution to the wind and say “YES, MAN!” and embrace the vitality of being ALIVE.

Try it out!  Rent the movie if you want to see how it’s done.  Your life will be so much fresher and better for it.

Let me know what you discover. :-)