Quiet, stylish, driven and yet “notorious” for her hard-hitting, impassioned dissents, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the most complex and inspirational public figures of the last few decades. And if it feels like RBG-types are hard to find, you’re absolutely right.
“RBG overcame tremendous hurdles to become one of the most acclaimed jurists of her time, and was an absolute icon in the fight for gender equality,” said Molly Owens, CEO & Founder of Truity. “But how was she able to achieve things that others would never have even thought to dream of? Her success may have stemmed from her most essential qualities: her INTJ personality type, which led her to throw convention out the window and set her sights on the most ambitious of intellectual goals.”
Let’s take a closer look at all of RBG’s superpowers.
MYERS-BRIGGS / TYPEFINDER PERSONALITY TYPE
INTJ: The Mastermind
INTJs, also known as the “Mastermind” personality type, are analytical and strategic problem solvers. Through her words and actions, RBG was an excellent example of this unique temperament.
Below, we dissected some of Ginsburg’s key characteristics:
Reserved, thoughtful, and intentional.
On the surface, RBG was reserved and introverted; her friends claim she had zero room for small talk, even when she was young. INTJs are always too busy thinking about the world’s more complex problems, making observations, and mapping out ways to drive change.
At the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, for instance, she was the “chief architect” of a strategy aiming to stop the issue of sex-role stereotyping.
Hardworking, diligent, and laser-focused.
When she was a child, her mother would take her to the library to learn, feeding her natural thirst for knowledge. RBG could work for hours at a time, according to her family members. When she was in law school, she did all her own work and translated lectures for her husband, Marty, who had cancer.
INTJs often have superhuman concentration, able to exist inside their own bubbles to get work done. They are diligent, hard-working, and always working toward larger goals.
Direct, careful thought leaders.
RBG was known for her powerful dissents in Supreme Court cases where she was not on the side of the majority. INTJs don’t always speak up, but when they do, they are direct and careful in their language, and they mean every word of it. They are often thought leaders, good at conveying their arguments linearly in writing or a speech.
Driven by passion.
While soft and quiet on the surface, INTJs are driven by their values. RBG was the torchbearer for gender equality, letting the deep-seated belief that men and women should be treated as equals power her every move.
INTJs are often considered emotionless, but this is far from the truth. They feel deeply beneath the surface, have a tremendous amount of empathy, and are passionate about their beliefs.
Style and flair.
Although not nearly as important as her mind, RBG frequently sported sparkly shoes and lace collars showcasing her unique sense of style. INTJs are often fond of tailored, classic looks, but they know what’s stylish and like to have fun with accents.
“RBG’s passion for rigorously logical problem-solving in pursuit of justice, her determination and dogged work ethic, and her ability to forge unlikely intellectual friendships are all hallmarks of a Myers-Briggs personality type that is only seen in 1% of the female population,” added Owens.
I = Introvert: reserved, thoughtful, soft-spoken
This is in her documentary; she was independent and soft-spoken compared to her husband, who was gregarious.
N = Intuitive: abstract, patterns, possibilities, meaning
Intuitives are forward-thinking, abstract, able to extrapolate and read between the lines. RBG was able to get people to think differently about what equality means -- especially in relation to women’s rights.
T = Thinker: direct, objective, firm
A dominant thinker, RBG thought deeply about how to apply the law. She did not let her personal viewpoints interfere with her work, and was skilled at making “well-reasoned, dispassionate” arguments.
J = Judger: decisive, diligent, structured, intentional
RBG was linear, planful, and structured. She was famous for her dissents, and she was tireless in her goals. When she was undergoing chemotherapy, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told her to get her treatments on Friday, so she could come back to the court on Monday.
Ni = Introverted Intuition
Her dominant function was introverted intuition. INJs think about how systems work, and look toward the bigger picture when making decisions. When she was a lawyer, she thought carefully about how to get others to see gender equality was a real issue, taking on cases that discriminated against both women and men.
Te = Extraverted Thinking
Her auxiliary function was extraverted thinking, which is concerned with logically organizing data. As a lawyer and a judge, she was constantly turning her ideas into oral and written arguments and dissents, often known for the power of her pen -- and her incredible execution.
Fi = Introverted Feeling
Her tertiary function was introverted feeling. Introverted feelers usually have a unique set of values, knowing exactly what they believe; they are often concerned with morality, and this passion powers everything they do. She was a trailblazer when female attorneys were not welcome in male circles, and took on causes no one necessarily wanted to tackle. She became famous for speaking up (“I dissent”), earning her notoriety -- and of course, the nickname “Notorious RBG.”
Se = Extraverted Sensing
Her inferior function was extraverted sensing. Although she’s more at home in her thought world vs. physical world, she does like to move and have an eye for style. You see this regularly with her sparkly shoes, fun collars, playful glasses, etc. She also enjoyed the finer things in life when appropriate, like a game of golf or a trip to the opera.
For good measure, we also took a look at RBG’s possible Enneagram type based on her actions and life accomplishments.
Type One (1) - Perfectionist
It makes complete sense then that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a lifelong public servant; she devoted her life to advancing gender equality, before making her way to the Supreme Court. As a Type One, she was motivated, at her core, to be good, right and moral.
Ones are diligent and tireless in their desire to improve themselves, and they have near-impossible standards. They seek to reform, make the world better, remain ethical, and sometimes struggle when they make mistakes. Key characteristics of Type Ones: Wise, ethical, diligent, purposeful, driven, desire to do right, fear of doing wrong.
- RBG was always serious and straightforward, very reserved.
- In a documentary on her life, RBG’s kids say she had an endless ability to concentrate and focus on her work for hours at a time.
- She had high standards of excellence. She made the Harvard Law Review, and was one of the first women to do so. She was the first woman to become tenured faculty at Columbia Law School. She was the second-ever woman to make the Supreme Court.
- RBG was honest and direct, and loved discussing ideas with substance -- not gossip, not small talk.
- She was methodical in nature, able to complete major projects and work towards core goals. Ones are often drawn toward careers that rely on this skill, including careers in finance, academia, military and law.
- Ones are motivated to make the world a better place, and do right by people. For RBG, gender equality is what motivated her.
- She had a very clear life mission and dedicated her life to public service and the Supreme Court, working right up until she passed.
- She was a woman of integrity, with a strong sense of right and wrong.
- She was down to earth and able to engage with other viewpoints (for instance, she was very close with conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, considering him a close friend). This shows she was a healthy Type One, not rigid in her thinking.
RBG was a true icon. She’s also a role model for young INTJ girls, who may feel like they’re alone in their minds, to speak out. In this regard, her legacy is timeless: "I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability," she once said. May we all strive to do just that.