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Find Your Motivation and Grow Your Career

Find Your Motivation and Grow Your Career

By Donna Dunning

Donna DunningPersonality type and motivation for learning

Lately there have been many posts and conversations in the career development field about the importance of taking charge of your career. Many experts agree there is a need to adapt and flex in this rapidly changing, unpredictable world. More than ever, it is essential to find or create work opportunities that suit who you are and take you in the direction you want to go.

Learning and development have always been thought of as highly transferable skills. Today, they are necessary tools for career success.

What motivates you to engage in ongoing learning and development?

Learn “In Service of Your Dominant Function”

According to personality type models, you will be most motivated to learn, change, and develop if the new skill or knowledge is framed to be “in service of your dominant function”.

If you are new to personality type, you might want to read more about personality type dynamics. Everyone has a two preferred functions: a dominant function and an auxiliary function. When a person is working in their preferred approach, these two functions provide a comfortable way to take in information and make decisions.

What “in service of your dominant function” means, in personality type terms, is that you will be more motivated to learn something when the learning allows you to use your preferred functions more effectively or meaningfully.

How Does This Work?

I’ll start with a concrete example, one often used in MBTI ® Certification workshops. Isabel Briggs Myers had preferences for INFP, yet she spent considerable time and energy working with details and learning statistical analysis. These activities required her to use her Sensing and Thinking functions extensively, activities NFs generally are not usually drawn to.

Why would she bother to learn to use her non-preferred functions?

She wanted to create a new tool (Ne) that people could use to build understanding of themselves and others, a value (Fi) that was important to her. When you read her work, you can see her passion for a world where people could find satisfying work, learn in a way that respected who they were, understand differences, and get along, a reflection of her personal values (Fi).

In other words, she learned to use her non-preferred functions to serve her dominant function.

What about you?

Think about what your dominant function is and how you might convince yourself to develop and use your non-preferred preferences in service of what you prefer. Not only will this help you learn, it will also help you recognize who you are and what you want to achieve through your work.

I am writing a series of posts exploring the 16 personality type combinations and offering ideas to help you find your motivation for learning.

If you want a post about your personality type preferences written first, add a comment to the bottom of this post. I will write those first in the order they are requested.


Want to learn more about personality type and how to use it to understand yourself and others?

Introduction to Type and Communication describes in detail how personality preferences influence communications.

If you live in the USA, Introduction to Type and Communication is now available on Kindle.

Looking for a practical resource to help you plan your ideal career? Check out my book, What’s Your Type of Career?: Find Your Perfect Career By Using Your Personality Type

Want to use your personality type to excel at your career? Check out 10 Career Essentials: Excel at Your Career by Using Your Personality Type

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 at 7:45 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Find Your Motivation and Grow Your Career”

  1. Sanaz says:


  2. Amber Headlights says:

    Your post touched on something that I’ve wondered about for some time. I’m guessing with your background in psychology, you probably had quite a bit of stats, so you might have a good perspective on this. You mentioned Isabel Briggs Myers being unhappy having to do a lot of statistical analysis. How much of statistics, in general, do you find to be related to the thinking preference and how much do you consider to be sensing? I’m wondering because, as an undergrad, my intro to stats course was a special kind of torture for me, although when I took an applied stats class the following summer (getting deeper into SPSS, as well as underlying concepts and a focus on essay exams) it was tons better.

    Since getting into the MBTI, I’ve wondered about that, since statistics were a big part of why I wound up in graduate school for philosophy instead of psychology. When I did tons better in a graduate-level class in Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” than an introductory undergrad class on stats (with about half the effort), I figured my grades were telling me something important about my personality. 😛

  3. Julie says:

    Hello Donna. This is a great initiative, which I find very relevant as we learn our way through work environments that require a wide range of kills. Sustaining one’s motivation when developing a non-preferred function can be challenging. I would be quite interested to read more on this topic, specifically as it relates to ENTP preferences. Thank you!

  4. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Amber, Thanks for your comment. Good question. I’m not sure if Isabel Myers liked statistics or not, it’s just usually not a preferred activity for NFs. As far as statistics being S or T, in my experience many of the procedures are SJ – following very specific steps to make sure you complete a number of operations in a specific order. I think that is the part that wouldn’t generally appeal to NFs. In stats I also see a need to use T to analyze and evaluate the data and find logical connections as well as some N in seeing the patterns and in creating hypotheses and theories. I actually like statistics myself as an ENFP… but only when I can get to see patterns and play with concepts and ideas. Sounds like you might have preferences for NT? I do think that the courses we like do tell us something about our preferences. However, how the courses are taught also make a difference to how enticing they might be (at least for me). I found SPSS interesting… once I learned enough of the details to play with data. Of course, for me to use an example talking about “what types like what subjects” is always going to be a generalization and not accurate for everyone.

  5. Donna Dunning says:

    Thanks Sanaz and Julie, I’ll do ESFJ next and then ENTP.

  6. Amber Headlights says:

    TBH, I’m not sure about the T/F in my personality. On the inventory, my preference for I and N is clear, though slight for F/T and J/P, which makes sense, since I tend to waffle on both of those measures 🙂

    Yeah, I really liked the hypothesizing and theorizing aspect of lab work–it was interesting to see an anomalous result, think back on the literature I’d read and come up with ideas about what might be causing the results. Though I also really enjoyed running experiments (in large part because I got to watch rats swim through mazes, I think ;-)). I agree with you about the type/subject connection always being a generalization. I know my interests have run the gamut (Psych, a BA and MA in Philosophy, now about to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing) and while my ENTP husband has a stereotypical NT profession (InfoSec), my very ENTJ-ish father is a retired Lit professor/dramaturg. I sometimes think what’s really important isn’t so much what you do as it is why you do it.

  7. Carol Goehausen says:

    I have taken the MBTI twice, the first time I came out as an INFP and the second time as an ENFP, so I would like you to explore the motivations for learning in both types. ENFPs and INFPs both prefer Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling, but in a different order. How would the switch in dominant and auxiliary functions affect their learning styles?

  8. C -L says:

    INTJ please!

  9. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Carol, Thanks for your comment. Motivation and learning style for INFPs and ENFPs have similarities. The INFP would likely be more motivated when learning aligns to Fi. Respect and authenticity would likely be key. ENFPs would seek this as well, but may be more driven by Ne, such as having opportunities to innovate and share concepts. I will write posts about these two types after the ENTP.

  10. Donna Dunning says:

    C-L, OK… here’s the order so far: ESFJ is done, next ENTP, then INFP, ENFP, and INTJ. Thanks for asking.

  11. Nadya says:

    Can you do INTP after INTJ?

  12. Donna Dunning says:

    Yes. I will do INTP after INTJ.

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