One of the challenges of being in the early stages of your career is the expectation that you will do a lot of the thankless grunt work without a greater sense of why that work matters.
That can be demoralizing for anyone — but it can be especially challenging for an INTJ personality type.
Regardless of what stage they’re at in their careers, INTJs are often more than ready to redesign inefficient systems from the moment they arrive. Yet, they find themselves hitting up against brick walls built with status quo processes, need-to-know information loops, and people who just can’t see what the INTJ can see.
As an INTJ, how do you build a meaningful career when you feel like your wings are being clipped by the very organization you are there to help? Here are four tips to help you develop a meaningful career.
1. Choose where you work wisely
Pick your organization carefully. Choose a company that is not weighed down by excessive rules. This may be a small and agile company, where it’s easy to work beyond your job description, solve problems that need addressing, and have your work be seen by people who can grant you bigger projects and opportunities.
2. Analyze the cost of perfection
INTJs have extremely high standards, and it helps if they work for an organization that also values excellence. However, excellence costs money, and sometimes the cost of an INTJ’s perfection is too high for a business to wear. Even at 80%, an INTJs work is still incredibly high value.
Before starting to bring your vision or solution to life, re-evaluate your definition of success and failure. What does 100% look like for you? What does 80% look like? 50%? And what does the businesses’ corresponding definition of success look like? What is the gap between your definition and theirs — and what is the cost/benefit analysis of that difference?
In the fast-moving business world, sometimes it’s better to get something done, than for it to be perfect.
3. Practice giving and getting feedback
It’s very difficult to explain or reproduce what we imagine exactly as we see it in our minds. The moment we share the blueprints for our latest innovation is the moment it changes.
It’s important to remember this is part of the process of creating something that lasts. You have thought of something incredible, but you need people to help you bring your vision to life. These people will also bring practical wisdom from the reality of implementing other projects.
However, that feedback can feel like a personal attack instead of an objective analysis. Like you have somehow failed to think of everything. Mostly that feedback isn’t about you, it’s about the project, but your ego takes it that way, so this is a useful thing to practice.
Think about a way in which you would be comfortable receiving feedback. What would that system look like? Who would be involved? Where would this meeting take place? What framework or conditions would you place around it? Then set up the situation and practice giving and receiving feedback with the group.
4. Delegate effectively
There is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness that is especially important to consider when communicating with people.
INTJs can be quick to find fault with others and become frustrated with others’ short-sightedness, inefficiency and low standards. But every person has their strengths and their weaknesses. When it comes to working with others, the key is learning how to best use the strengths of each person. Once they learn how to do that, INTJs make extremely effective leaders.
INTJs often expect others to work as independently as they do, so in order to set others up for success, it’s important to paint a clear picture of what the completed task or project looks like, and then let the person approach it how they like.
In her book, “Dare to Lead,” Brené Brown talks about making sure everyone on the team has a clear understanding of what “done” looks like. “Painting done” is not a one-way conversation or just talking about the task. It’s a conversation around the why, the background, and the underlying assumptions everyone is holding until everyone has a clear picture of the outcome.
This process might seem inefficient, but it’s effective for ensuring that in the long run, the work completed is the work that needs to get done. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind, unclear is unkind.”
Everyone enjoys doing work that matters and feeling confident that they are playing to their strengths while doing it. Focus on finding a work environment that supports you, plays to your strengths, and where over time you can help others do the same.