How Do ISTPs Think? One-on-One with a Craftsman

How do you know if you – or someone you love – is an ISTP?

ISTPs are one of eight Myers-Briggs introvert personality types. They are marvelous in-the-moment, hands-on problem solvers. The first thing you might notice about an ISTP is her ability to come up with creative solutions using what’s around her.

Once when I was playing music with friends, we were having trouble mounting a new microphone. We lacked the proper attachment to connect the mike to a stand. Fortunately, there was an ISTP among us. In about five minutes, he came up with a way to zip-tie the mic to a stand so that we could move ahead with the recording process.

What really makes an ISTP shine is his ability to figure out how a system works. Whether he’s studying a car, combine, or computer, he’ll learn each of the parts and how they work together. Then, with this in-depth understanding, he’ll be able to quickly diagnose and fix any problems that arise.

ISTPs are introverts with an eye for detail and an appreciation for efficiency. They’re thinkers through-and-through, but they also savor new experiences, spontaneity, and variety.

To give you a first-hand look at how an ISTP thinks, I interviewed a good friend of mine and asked him eight questions that get to the heart of the ISTP personality. As you read his responses, think about yourself – or that person you know or love – and see if the ISTP introvert personality type is a good fit.

(To determine your own personality type, check out this series.)

How do you know if you - or someone you love - is an ISTP? How does someone with this introvert personality type think? Read the post to find out.

1. If you could do anything you wanted each day you woke up, what would you do?

If I could farm 30 hours a week, and get a consistent paycheck with benefits, that would be the best scenario imaginable to me at the present time. I could never do something for leisure all day, every day: I definitely need work and discipline in my life – but not too much. Also, farming is a lot of problem-solving, which I enjoy, and a lot of variety in daily tasks, all within a familiar setting.

The only problem with farming in real life is that it is incredibly stressful. It’s a lot of work with a near constant threat of sudden income loss. Remove those elements and it would be awesome.

2. What’s a successful day look like for you?

I need to work on something at some point during most days to feel successful. I don’t need to finish things – just make some progress. Half-days at work where I work hard in the morning and relax or do something fun the rest of the day are the best. As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, I have do be doing something productive, at least part of the day. Perhaps this is why I enjoy cycling. It’s both fun and work rolled into one activity.

3. When you need to make an important decision, what’s your process like?

Gather lot’s of facts, weigh the options, make a decision. For most mid-level decisions, my process is pretty straightforward. For truly big decisions, the process gets a little messy. I tend to get wrapped up in the “gather facts, weigh options, gather more facts” loop and can have trouble actually pulling the trigger on a final decision.

4. What’s something that makes you who you are that a lot of people might not know?

I struggled socially through a good part of elementary school. During 4th grade, I was picked on a fair bit and felt pretty isolated. Things improved dramatically in middle school and high school, but those experiences in elementary school were very defining.

While I like trying new things, I really hate doing so in public settings. I think it’s because I fear looking stupid in front of a crowd. I developed an empathy for underdogs of all kinds during my rough patch in elementary school and, along with it, a desire to get to know people who are boxed out of mainstream society – because that’s how I felt at the time.

5. What are your greatest strengths and/or contributions to a team?

I often think of teamwork in the context of problem-solving. I’m good at identifying two or three goals that are critical to success and then developing a plan to accomplish them. I’m more of a big picture thinker. I am not a fast worker and not really very good a churning out tasks.

Right now at work, I’m cooperating with a guy who is really good task completion. He has accomplished infinitely more than I could in the same amount of time, but he sometimes fails to prioritize his work. I keep us on track and help us adhere to a plan.

This knack impacts how I play sports. I love game planning and strategy. Nothing excites me like taking a group of solid yet unspectacular players and turning them into a competent team with a good strategy.

6. Can you describe a time you accomplished something you were proud of?

One of my favorite memories was being named “Physics Student of the Year” my senior year in high school. I was always a good student but never in the top tier. I earned a mix of A’s and B’s.

When I was a senior, my school had an advanced science track for the most promising students, which I wasn’t a part of. But when it came to physics, everything clicked. I really enjoyed it and did well in the subject.

At the end of the year, I was invited to the academic awards ceremony. I had no idea why I was invited, but, nevertheless, I went with my parents. When they announced the physics award, they called my name. It was a total shock. (A girl I thought was cute was there at the time. I hoped she was impressed.)

7. What do you wish came more naturally to you?

I wish I was more disciplined: I can be hardworking, but I’m not disciplined. I struggle with daily devotions, and I’ve never been very good a training regiments, for cycling or running. Setting a goal and working toward it is not something I do well – unless it’s mandatory, as is the case with work. Rather than say I want to be able to run a mile in five minutes, for example, I’d rather run when I feel like it, attempt a mile at some point, and let the chips fall where they may.

8. What’s your favorite part about being you?

I’m almost never bored. I’m interested in a wide range of subjects and activities, and I enjoy learning new things.

What do YOU love about being an ISTP or about the ISTPs you know? Add to the discussion in the comments!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.