The Composer
The ISFP personality type is Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. This combination of personality preferences produces people who rarely demand attention, are observant problem-solvers who see possibilities others miss, base their decisions on their instincts and values, and focus on enjoying the present. With a deep aesthetic streak and a natural talent for the arts, ISFPs appreciate and create beauty in their surroundings. Though ISFPs tend to be bold and spontaneous, seeking new experiences and ways to help others, they tend to become bored easily and can struggle with decision-making and planning for the future.

ISFP Strengths

Observant. ISFPs are super-observant and seldom overlook any details. However, what makes them so gifted as problem-solvers is that they know how to synthesize what they sense and experience into a coherent whole. ISFPs are experts at finding patterns and connections, and this ability allows them to see possibilities for change and improvement that others miss. Best of all, the advice they give and the solutions they recommend are always practical, sensible and capable of making any situation better in the present moment. 

Bold and spontaneous. Craving fun and excitement as they do, ISFPs know that life is short and that we must seize the moment before it passes us by. ISFPs live extremely active lives, boldly pursuing many hobbies and undertaking many exciting projects. They’re also spontaneous enough to leap at chances for new experiences whenever they might appear.

Principled. ISFPs will not sacrifice their principles for anything, and they have little tolerance for cheaters, liars or hypocrites. Because they are so respectful and find conflict distasteful, ISFPs will not confront people who disappoint them, but they will disassociate themselves from those individuals as soon as they possibly can. 

Individual. Some people spend their whole lives conforming to established standards and traditions. But ISFPs prefer to dance to the beat of their own drummers, relying on their own instincts to reveal what is right, good and true. ISFPs don’t do this as a way to gain attention, or stand out from the crowd. They simply believe that human nature is complex and varied and that everyone’s path should be unique. 

ISFP Weaknesses

Too sensitive. Kind and considerate ISFPs are so determined to keep the peace that they frequently suppress their unpleasant emotions or ignore their own needs. Putting people first is great, but ISFPs too often forget to include themselves among that privileged group. Unfortunately, ISFPs are very sensitive and can have their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat, so their habit of deferring to the interests of others to avoid conflict tends to put them in uncomfortable positions time after time.

Indecisive and unpredictable. ISFPs are innovative, flexible and adaptable. But there is a fine line between flexibility and indecisiveness, and sometimes ISFPs are so open-minded that they are unable to make firm and final decisions. Too often, ISFPs sway back and forth like willows in the wind, changing their minds repeatedly in response to every persuasive argument they hear.

Easily bored. ISFPs are doers who learn through direct experience and imitation. If the instruction they receive seems too abstract or theoretical, ISFPs view it with suspicion, believing this style of teaching to be boring or irrelevant. But this preference can adversely affect their performance as students. Effective learning requires focus and commitment, and ISFPs at times are not as dedicated as they should be. This can limit their ability to absorb new and useful knowledge. 

Lack of future planning. ISFPs don’t always perceive the full consequences of their actions, or understand how the present inevitably shapes the future. Those who refuse to look beyond the immediate horizon may be unprepared for unpleasant happenings or overwhelmed by new duties and responsibilities—such as those that accompany the arrival of a child, for example. As a result, they may struggle with financial affairs, be ambushed by emergencies or fail to notice the way unresolved conflicts can poison relationships over the long term. 

ISFP Growth and Development

In order to reach their full potential, ISFPs should:

Choose honesty over harmony. ISFPs do what they can to preserve harmony and promote the peace. But in order to avoid having their needs overlooked, ISFPs need to express themselves openly and honestly, even if what they have to say may be difficult for others to hear. This can cause strife in the short run, but in the long run it will help clear up misunderstandings and erase hurt feelings. 

Develop a wider concept of what it means to be bold and adventurous. ISFPs tend to underestimate their own skills and intelligence. As a result, they frequently choose not to express themselves or volunteer their services unless they are absolutely certain they will receive a positive reception. But when they surrender to these sorts of insecurities, ISFPs are actually passing up opportunities for adventure, which they normally crave. There’s satisfaction to be gained from breaking free of these chains. The results may be unpredictable, but the uncertainty is what provides the challenge. 

As Michael Jackson used to say, start with the man in the mirror. ISFPs have wonderful personal qualities. Their unselfishness and charitable attitude rank near the top of the list of their most attractive attributes. But ISFPs are so open-minded, respectful, considerate and polite that they tend to defer to others in virtually every circumstance. Too often, ISFPs treat others better than they treat themselves, acting as if their needs are somehow trivial or less important. So every now and then, ISFPs should make sure to include their own names on the list of the deserving—preferably somewhere near the top. Charity shouldn’t end at home, but there is no reason why it can’t begin there. 

Network with dreamers, visionaries and futurists. ISFPs are a bit skeptical of those whose imaginations seem bigger than their accomplishments. In some cases this is justified, but in general ISFPs could benefit by seeking social contact with people who possess the long-term vision they sometimes lack. Reading autobiographies or downloading video interviews with such folks will also help ISFPs gain more insight into the thinking patterns and philosophies of successful entrepreneurs and inventors. 

Actually make some plans for the future. It is possible for ISFPs to look ahead without abandoning their spontaneity and freedom. “What would I like to be doing five years from now?” “What does the phrase ‘personal growth’ mean to me?” “What would I like my life to look like when I turn 50?” These are the types of general, open-ended questions that can help ISFPs focus their creative energies without restricting their ability to make unique, spur-of-the-moment choices.