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Sixteen Months of Type — ENTP

This is the eighth post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ENTP. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration and soon to be available on – stay tuned!) as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ENTP, Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking and Perceiving
When facing an LCE, ENTPs typically want an approach that that has few restrictions and allows for questions. If your preferences are for ENTP, you tend to do best in times of change when there are opportunities to ask probing questions, debate concepts, and explore multiple options for moving forward. You want to brainstorm with others as well as try things out. ENTPs tend to prefer to keep things fluid, allowing for improvisation and adaption as new data become available. Sticking to a plan just for the sake of it can be a recipe for frustration, boredom, and loss of energy for ENTPs. After all, who knows when new information will come along requiring a complete rethink from the ground up?!

When ENTP preferences are overdone, people who prefer ENTP may be so focused on what might coming up next and how they can make it happen more quickly, that they tend to overlook the present moment, both specific facts and their feelings about these facts. This future and action-oriented approach can mean that they fail to attend to important details — including practical necessities and their own and others’ current physical and emotional needs — and thus inadvertently create more work in the long term. When things are done in a less than careful manner, they will most likely need to be reworked or reexamined later. Those who prefer ENTP may also withdraw their participation if things seem too routine or mundane, not recognizing that a little time spent in the necessary “grunt work” of reviewing genuine limiting factors will add veracity and strength to their vision as well as engender the support of more cautious folks.

When facing an LCE, ENTPs typically need a creative companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. Since those who prefer ENTP are usually curious and enthusiastic, they seek companions, whether friends, colleagues or helping professionals, who aren’t afraid to question the status quo, look at things critically as well as playfully, and enjoy robust banter. No topic should be off limits and spirited and vigorous discussion is paramount. ENTPs are usually open to all kinds of information and a source’s expert status due to rank or title holds little weight with them. Any companion helping ENTPs on their journey needs to be broad-minded as well – information has to be good in and of itself, and something that is traditionally seen as true is not enough to convince ENTPs of its value.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ENTP, they may struggle to keep up their motivation when things feel slow, dull, or tedious. A clever companion can help ENTPs see that those around them might need things to evolve more slowly and judiciously and encourage the ENTP to be patient with those who are less action-oriented and spontaneous. Without this forthright and sage feedback, people who prefer ENTP may assume that others are trying to thwart the change process when instead they most likely just require a more measured approach. Having a companion who can challenge them to recognize the differing needs of others can also act as a springboard for ENTPs becoming better able to identify their own feelings and needs. Together they can brainstorm ways to get these needs met during the rough spots, stuck points and “doldrums” periods common to all transitions (and remind them that these will not last forever) while at the same time understanding that others may need more in the way of specifics or reflection time to the appreciate the future potential that ENTPs see so readily.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 79
If you prefer ENTP (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find time to check-in with yourself and discover what matters most – in people terms as well as in terms of the bottom line?
  2. How can your past experiences be a guide to what might help you manage things more successfully now?
  3. How can you assess the impact of your actions on those you care about?
  4. How can you create plans, schedules or routines to help you manage your new way of living more easily?

Let us know if you would like to be informed about the launch of our new reports for military personnel in career transition, soon to be available through


There’s no elevator to the top, you’ll have to take the stairs

Upon hearing this expression the other day, it got us thinking. What does this mean and is taking the stairs a plus or a minus? On first blush it seemed more negative, as in “wow, stair climbing, that’s a lot of work,” but on second thought, it seemed liberating as in “wow, it’s actually achievable, there are steps I can take that will add up to big changes.” When you read this saying, how does it strike you?

We often want things to be easy and quick – like an elevator ride – and our modern lifestyles reflect this. Further, technology, as wonderful as it is, fuels the assumption that it is always possible to get things done quickly and effortlessly. However, there are many examples of where having things come too soon or too easily can be challenging. Think of lottery winners who become wealthy instantly, athletes who win their very first competition, or celebrities who become famous just after being discovered. All too often people in these circumstances “crash and burn” because they are unaware of how to sustain their good fortune. They end up in unpleasant circumstances because their success came too rapidly, with few if any intervening steps.

Stair climbing begins to feel a lot more appealing after taking a closer look at the possible “elevator scenarios”. Taking things slowly has its advantages. With that in mind, how do we help ourselves look at things more positively when we feel we aren’t making progress toward our goals or we face obstacles that seem too big to surmount? Here are a few tips:

Recognize where you are. Expect that your long-term plans will be like running a marathon – when you feel the finish line is a long way off, notice how far you have come from the starting gate. Recognizing this will help you stay motivated to keep going.

Break big goals into much smaller ones. Nothing new here, but how often do we forget to do this? Remember the expression “Rome was not built in a single day” and apply this wisdom when things start to feel overwhelming. Completing small tasks over time yields big results.

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! We can become so fixated on our goal that the journey becomes an afterthought at best or drudgery at worst. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can celebrate each small success and enjoy the fact that we are learning and growing as we proceed – indeed this should be our goal no matter what else we are hoping to accomplish!

Self-Discovery Tool Number 69:
Quick results can be seductive, but often they only have temporary staying power. Instead of wishing and waiting for an immediate payoff, take a small step and congratulate yourself on accomplishing it. Make an effort to enjoy the ride in whatever way you can, rather than exclusively focusing on the destination. Love yourself as you keep on learning and you’ll be reaching the top before you know it!

Low Stakes Change for High Stakes Potential

Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut, feeling sluggish, bored and with too much time on our hands. Sometimes the opposite occurs and we feel like things are too busy, too rushed and too out of control. Yet what both these situations have in common is that change is needed. Even if we understand this intellectually, change can feel scary and intimidating. So how can we make change feel more comfortable and even fun? By starting small!

Here are a few simple ideas to get you going – the point is to step outside your usual patterns:

  • Spend a few minutes outside, even if the weather isn’t perfect, to refresh yourself and stimulate new thinking

  • If you always do the cooking, let a family member or a restaurant take over this duty; if you never cook, give it a try

  • Test out a new style that appeals to you but might be described as “too much” – too dressy, too attention-getting, too colorful, too young, etc. – release the judgment temporarily and give some aspect of it a try

  • Don’t say “yes” just because this is what you always do; say “no” when you can and want to say “no”

  • If you typically order a particular coffee, sandwich or entree, when you go out, pick something a little different

  • Give yourself permission to temporarily “unplug” as the messages will be there when you return

  • When you hear something that irritates you, remain quiet or change the subject instead of arguing; or, if you usually avoid sensitive topics, calmly share your point of view without, of course, expecting instant understanding or agreement

  • Ask a friend to think of something simple that she/he has always thought you should you try – a new walking trail, book, cuisine, etc. – and then help you get what you need to experience it

  • If you never listen to music, put the radio on, if you love TV, try a magazine, if you typically surround yourself with noise, try a little silence

  • Wear your hair differently; if it’s short, change where you part it, if it’s long, put it up or wear it down; see how it feels to do the opposite of what you typically do

  • Make someone’s day, pay a stranger a compliment instead of keeping your admiring thoughts to yourself

  • Request an opinion from someone who seems very different from you and see if you learn something unexpected

  • Take a break from needing to make your own or others’ actions “good” or “bad,” instead try to experience events without labeling them

  • Ask “why not?” instead of “why?”

Self-Discovery Tool Number 60

We tend to think that we need to do big things to bring about growth and yet growth comes from small steps as well as large ones. Get into the habit of making small changes, they are the foundation upon which big, long-lasting shifts can be built – give it a “small” try today!

Reclaiming “Unlucky” Thirteen by Recognizing the Strength in Ourselves

We all have superstitious beliefs and one that is quite common is avoiding things that are associated with the number 13 (e.g., some buildings skip the 13th floor, some people stay at home on Friday the 13th). As we go into a whole year with the label 13, how about we make the most of it and work on changing our mindset from one of hoping for luck to one of having faith in ourselves? Let’s examine what this might look like.

Avoiding things means shrinking your world
Think about the energy it takes to avoid or ignore something. It’s pretty difficult, isn’t it? In addition, it tends to mean missing out on things as well as living in a state of anxiety. To expand your world, you need to consider how you choose your activities: are your choices based on fear or enthusiasm? Having faith in yourself can be as simple as channeling the energy you would have used in worrying over or avoiding something into actively seeking out a happier alternative.

Uncover the message behind your reluctance
We may be avoiding something for a valid reason, however there are times when our avoidance is simply a habit. To open yourself to experiencing more of life, you need to discover what lies behind your apprehension and how facing its cause could enhance your life. Beginning to notice where and when you tend to limit yourself can offer important insights. A first step in reversing those patterns can be as straightforward as asking yourself “why?” when you find yourself doing so.

Luck is what you make it
What some people call luck, others call being prepared to seize opportunities as they arise. To make your own luck, it helps to be open, flexible, and willing to examine your attitude toward the unexpected. Feeling lucky can be as simple as reframing the hurdles in life as interesting surprises, challenges to be explored, or chances to grow in maturity and wisdom.

Self-Discovery Tool 57
In 2013 how can we learn to recognize our capacity for courage and start to see the events that come our way – good or bad – as ultimately lucky? How can self-discovery help us get to the root of our superstitions and fears and start to let them go? Let’s reclaim 13 as fortunate, knowing that no matter the number on the calendar or the circumstance facing us, we can choose to make our own luck!

You CAN Change Your History

We tend to see the past as fixed. It’s over, it’s done, and there is nothing we can do about it. While this might be true in a material sense, by employing our imaginations, we can change our past to make it more uplifting and hopeful. In other words, we can “create backwards” and re-write history so that it is better, happier, and more in line with the wiser people we are today. In doing so, we can ease the pain of past missteps and disappointments and live a freer and more satisfying present. In addition, some scientific research indicates that the same parts of the brain involved in direct experience can also be activated when we imagine an experience. This has been interpreted to mean that to our minds there is no real difference between doing and imagining.* Further coaches of athletes, actors, and public speakers have long employed this technique to help their clients be more successful, so why not try it ourselves? We can craft a “new” foundation for our lives, making our roots healthier and therefore making our current lives more vibrant.

Here are some strategies to re-make your history:

1. Invent a happier childhood

If you did not have an idyllic childhood, or have had something that happened when you were young that still affects you now, paint a new picture for yourself. Mentally create a loving family or a different and much happier event to take the place of the painful one. See yourself enjoying the more caring people and more favorable circumstances; imagine yourself now as actually having grown up this way. Feel the strength that comes from this new past.

2. Re-do a conversation

If there is something you wish you’d said but didn’t or wish you hadn’t said but did, re-do that conversation in your mind. Hear yourself telling that person what he or she needed to know and revel in expressing what was left unspoken. Or, imagine exchanging the words too hastily spoken with kind ones, feeling relief that you chose to be gentle rather than rough. Whether the person with whom you imagine re-doing the conversation is living or dead, you can feel liberated by speaking this new authentic truth.

3. Make your choice the correct choice

Think about a choice you made that you feel was a mistake. Now imagine it was the only choice you could have made and therefore completely correct. How do you feel knowing there was nothing else you could have done? Adopting this point of view can make you feel more at ease, whereas agonizing over the past only keeps you miserable and stuck. Relish the energy you gain by letting go of your regrets.

4. Find the gift hiding in the sorrow

Think of a painful time in your life that still feels tender. What have you or could you learn from this experience? Perhaps you are wiser, more thoughtful or compassionate because of this experience. Perhaps you can now spot danger more readily and avoid it more effectively in the future. Perhaps you are less judgmental. The point is that most challenges offer opportunities for growth and self-discovery. See the good in the difficulty.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 54
Many of us could benefit from a rosier set of memories. Given that our minds may treat our imagined actions and our actual ones in the same way, why not free ourselves from needless suffering and re-envision our past? Just as we use our imaginations to work toward a brighter future, let’s use our imaginations to secure a personal history that better supports us today!


* Watch this TED talk to learn more about the idea that our imaginations and our actions activate similar brain areas:

Start Seeing Success – It’s in More Places Than You Realize!

We all like to have explanations for what happens in life. We feel more secure when we can point to a clear cause and effect. Sometimes, however, needing these reasons gets in our way and gets us down. If we struggle to explain the way things evolved, we may be setting up ourselves and those around us for a sense of failure. Instead of seeking reasons that may unfathomable or unsatisfactory from a logical standpoint, let’s discover ways we can understand the events in our lives from a “success perspective.” Let’s start seeing success where we may not have realized its existence due to our very human insistence on things being explainable, rational, and organized. Let’s nurture the feeling that we are in active partnership with a higher purpose and/or higher power and that even if the results of this partnership are not obvious, we have fulfilled what we set out to do simply because we are here and are living each day as best we know how.

We did our best. To see events in this way, we need to let go of the view that success always means persevering through thick and thin. Of course there are times when it is important to keep going when the going gets tough, and yet it is not the duration of our efforts as much as it is the quality of them that’s important. If we have sincerely given our best with the skills and knowledge we posses, we have truly done it all and done enough. After all, what more is there to provide when you have already given your best?

We are manifesting “the whole” by working the parts. When we can see the small, but by no means insignificant success of simply having the courage to move step-by-step through each day, we can release ourselves from the burden of needing to have all the answers or be “perfect.” True accomplishment comes from being present and facing what comes, good or bad. Being able to say we have achieved some outward standard of excellence, although wonderful, is not possible in many instances. Further, these accomplishments are certainly not as important as the internal satisfaction of moving forward when it would be easier to hide from our challenges or stay stuck.

We have grown. Interestingly, when we make positive changes we can still feel that we have failed because these changes may reveal that some of our relationships and circumstances are no longer a good fit. Rather than celebrating our increased self-awareness and rejoicing in our improved conditions, we beat ourselves up, get scared, and try to change back in order to make ourselves and others feel more comfortable. When we can see that we are changing our connection with what is familiar rather than cutting it off as we move forward, we put things into the proper perspective. We realize that we can continue to show love and respect for our old friends and our old ways and thereby help others not to feel threatened by our new level of awareness and development.

We have made a difference. Another way to see success is to look at our life in terms of the opportunities we have had to make a difference. When we evaluate our performance with a gratitude mindset, we open ourselves up to see how, as challenging as a situation or relationship is or was, we were probably able to do something that was constructive, helpful, or kind. Sometimes a smile is all it takes to brighten someone’s day and we may have been the person who gave that simple gift of warmth. Give thanks for these little opportunities to make a difference and see them as the successes that they are.

Self-Discovery Tool 50
We may not feel as though we have a say in how our lives unfold, but we do get to control our reactions to its ups and downs. How might you cultivate a “glass half full” attitude? Where can you see bright spots in dark times that, if they were made the focus of your attention, would have positive consequences for all involved? Notice success in small things and watch it multiply in large ways. Choose to see success – it’s all around you!

Saying Yes to Yourself, Instead of Saying No to Others

Instead of worrying about saying “no” to others, consider how you might say “yes” to yourself. It’s a subtle shift, but a powerful one. Pursuing this philosophy can make a big difference towards living a more joyful and authentic life.

Saying “no” to others can feel bad or negative. Saying “yes” to yourself can feel renewing, energizing, and affirming.

Often when we refuse another’s request we feel guilty or unsupportive. This happens even if the request is not entirely reasonable. This sets up a negative pattern of agreeing to things that might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. And when we take on things that we shouldn’t, we tend to feel bad, so our attempt to avoid these feelings doesn’t end up working anyway. After all, is exhaustion or resentment any better than feeling guilty or unsupportive?

How can we release ourselves from this pattern and begin saying “yes” to ourselves instead of “no” to others? Try some of the methods below:

  • Be proactive. Structure your schedule in a way that best suits your needs and responsibilities. Let people know that you need to fulfill the items on your agenda before you can make any other commitments. This is a way to say “yes” to yourself in the form of honoring your schedule–rather than feeling anxious about how you might say “no” to spontaneous requests.
  • Do your own stuff first. If you are facing multiple demands in a day or a week, complete your own tasks first and then tackle things for others. This not only helps you fulfill your commitments, but also better ensures that you will have time, energy, and space for others in the long run.
  • Choose wisely. Respect time for the limited quantity that it is and do only those things that seem reasonable. Ask yourself if the task is something you that fits your values, if it’s realistic given your other duties, and/or if it even needs to be done at all. If the answer is no to any of these questions, there are probably other things you could say yes to that are more worthy of your time and effort.
  • Pause before getting started. Did anyone ask you specifically or directly to help or are you taking care of things out of habit? Release the compulsion to manage everything. Who knows, you may inadvertently be blocking others’ participation!
  • Think big picture. What are your goals? Does doing this or that task for others help you achieve your goals or impede your progress? If it’s the latter, re-prioritize in order to let go of those things that are keeping your attention away from realizing your objectives.

Self-Discovery Tool 49
Try out the strategies above (or use them as an inspiration to create your own) and begin saying “yes” to yourself. By doing so, saying “no” to others will become less and less of an issue – your life will be set up in such a way that unreasonable demands simply will not have a place. How exciting is that?!

Embracing Surprise, Welcoming Change

Do you feel as if your life is following a predictable pattern, that you are in a rut of your own design? Does it seem that you are living on autopilot, not really noticing what is happening around you or even that there is a world beyond your usual routine?  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we think we know to be true and what we assume is necessary or valuable that we become blind to unexpected gifts and opportunities.

We can end up feeling tired and disconnected, not realizing that we have the capacity to renew our connections to the greater world – the world outside of our habitual beliefs and responses – and embrace the mystery that surrounds us.

What can we do to begin reorient our senses to the myriad of possibilities available? Give these simple suggestions a try.

  • Talk to someone whom you’ve never taken the time to get to know, strike up a conversation with a stranger, or approach someone who seems different from you
  • Ask your loved ones for their opinions on topics you’ve never examined before together
  • Eat something, wear something, or do something that is out of character for you just to see how it feels
  • Let others decide on a plan: take a back seat for a change, go along for the ride, see what unfolds
  • Challenge yourself to reflect and consider how you might do things differently the next time you face a recurring situation or task
  • Make a conscious effort to pay attention to what is happening around you and within you – what do you see and how are you feeling about it?

Self-Discovery Tool 3/43
Cultivate the attitude of wonder – be ready to be surprised. Take notice of your environment, both internally and externally. See how it shifts and changes and be willing to act accordingly instead of relying on your usual assumptions about how things should go or should be. Be open to change – try something small to connect to the many possibilities that could exist if they were only allowed entrance into your life!

Moving Forward With You By Our Side

To our old friends, familiar with our blogging spot, we thank you for being there and here; to our new friends, read on, you’ll soon understand!

When things change it can be exciting, but it can also feel a little scary. What’s out there? What’s beyond this? We are never assured of an answer even if we are excited about our new path and have carefully planned our route. Maturity is realizing that this uncertainty is okay and just a natural part of life. Taking a new road requires hope, faith, and trust.

But before we takeoff in a new direction, we want to honor our birthplace. We’ve been fortunate to have a home at the University of Minnesota and our stay has been splendid. We’ve been able to examine many aspects of self-discovery. We’ve been able to pose questions and propose strategies for achieving a greater measure of peace and contentment. We have shared books and other materials that touched our lives. We have enjoyed the journey and have grown along the way. We hope that you have, too.

Now, we’re moving forward. Happily, we have a new home base and will be reaching out to you monthly via this brand new website! We thank you for traveling with us since 2008 and we look forward to continuing the conversation here at our new site

We invite you to enjoy past Self-Discovery Digest posts on the LearningLife site as you will still be able to access them there:

The following are some thoughts that have crystallized for us over the past three years of blogging:

  • Life is endlessly fascinating.
  • People are generally good and are trying their best.
  • Letting go can be liberating – some situations are beyond personal control.
  • Power and fulfillment come from aligning who you are at your core with how you are in the world.
  • Healing and progress are always possible.

Self-Discovery Tool 1/41
Change is inevitable. Transformation is wonderful and yet anxiety provoking at the same time. Join us as we embrace this new direction. Partner with us as we grow and evolve – we wouldn’t want to blaze a new trail without you!

Elizabeth & Katherine