I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was Barbara Sher review

Millennial ENTP struggles

Read all posts about being an ENTP

As a female ENTP, I am a reasonably uncommon breed. It’s not that I think that Myers-Briggs cracked some super important code – I don’t believe the “science” behind it, it’s a little horoscopy, but it is consistent – and they managed to describe certain things with impressive precision. It has been described elsewhere, but I will keep calling it ENTP for clarity.

Having millennial restlessness superimposed on ENTP-ness is tough. In a world where doing one thing really well gets rewarded exponentially well, it’s also scary. I remember being a medical student and shadowing teams in St. James’ Hospital. After a difficult thyroid surgery, I was waiting for the next case and observing the wonderful Professor T., a well-known Dublin Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon, reading the newspaper in between two surgeries. I was wondering what he was thinking.

I just imagined life as an ENT surgeon: day in and day out taking out tonsils, resecting thyroids and realigning nasal septa – by choice!

I don’t think I could do it. Thank God there are people who can. I respect it hugely and I fully understand we need it. Indeed, if he was even more specialised – and only ever did tonsils, let’s say, that would be even better for the patients. But what would it be like for him? How can one continue to find new facets to something like a standard surgery? He didn’t strike me as the type who couldn’t wait to go home. There must have been something there for him that was clearly missing for me.I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was Barbara Sher reviewAs you know, I have a strong dislike for self-help books. However, one of my favourite social media personalities (she’s Russian, so she may not be super interesting to the reader), reads Barbara Sher and specifically recommended a book called I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. The name did resonate with me. I never thought that a book like this would interest Maria. Maria left her job in – I think – publishing soon after she started to found her own beauty business. She’s married to a serial entrepreneur. Together they make an impressive couple: I think they started with quite little and now they’re running a few interesting ventures – and there’re babies everywhere. It would seem that she knows exactly what she wants. Apparently not.

Once again, it reminds me of how pointless it is making inferences about other people’s lives. Anyway, I am currently reading the book.

It’s not as cringy as I had expected. I skipped a few chapters that seem to bear no connection to me. However, Chapter 6 relates directly to ENTPs, without calling them that.

Sher describes people who want to try everything, to understand how everything works, who feel that by dedicating oneself to X, you are tragically missing out on Y.

Sher argues that our biggest problem here is the belief that there is very little time to do everything, hence, we hysterically push ourselves into a niche hoping that it will fit. I completely agree that that’s true. At the same time, while Mrs. Sher may have an interesting point, I wonder how it related to the exact opposite point made by the Stoics. They argued that one of the worst things you can do is assume that there’s lots of time.

I think the resolution of this dilemma is obvious. Advice is meaningless without context. It’s like those men who teach about business always say: Never underestimate your opponent. For this advice to be useful for me, I have to multiply it by -1. Never overestimate your opponent. [Obviously there are limitations here, but it is a more useful heuristic given my world view.] The bottom line is that it’s impossible to know the beliefs and assumptions of your readers. That’s why therapy works, but self-help books don’t. It’s all in the context.

If you’re reading this and you are an ENTP kind of person, don’t think that time is completely against you. I think we are prone to be hyperaware of some realities like the merciless passage of time – but we get stupefied by lists and all of these endless techniques on how to get organised. We’re already organised. We’re not distracted. We’re aware of the dangers of endless distraction. However, banning ourselves from pursuing them is just against our nature.

With this in mind, Sher recommends to write out the 10 lives that you will you could live. My list includes that of a retail investor, a philosopher, a psychiatrist, a blogger, a painter among others. Her argument is powerful: look at the list and see what can be done in 20 minutes a day – or just occasionally. I underlined this:

“Don’t dedicate yourself to poetry. Write poems.”

This thought was also brought up in a different context in Steven Pressfield’s War of Art and the less interesting Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. As it stands, I already feel a lot of pressure from society to be able to say “I am X.” A doctor, a management consultant, a journalist – whatever. It makes no sense to add to this pressure by imposing my own restrictions. Furthermore, most of the time, it’s just a way to romanticise what one’s doing. If I like it, I will do it. Labels just aren’t for ENTPs. Of course, it’s not just ENTPs. Richard Branson and Elon Musk don’t have to explain their meandering interests to anyone – because they’ve already won.

In a world that likes to label people, it takes courage – and yields tremendous benefit to remain unlabelled.

If you are an ENTP, or this feels like the story of your life – leave a comment – let’s be friends ❤


34 thoughts on “Millennial ENTP struggles”

  1. Hi Martina. I am a huge fan of 625points.com, so I decided to check out this blog. I have to say, I don’t think I have ever related so strongly to a blog post before! I am an ENTP also, but I have never really looked into the meaning of that. However, this post has really struck a chord with me. I am 18 and currently finalising college choices, as well as seriously overthinking about college choices, so this is some much needed advice for me! Thank you, I very much look forward to becoming an avid follower of thinkingclearly:)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been set on Medicine first choice for a while, then I’ll probably put various Law/Law and Politics courses, then BESS and the like, but I’m also interested in Journalism and Health and Performance Science. So a broad mix, but it’s just the order that’s tough, and whether I’m willing to move away to do Medicine!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, that is broad, but it’s good that you aren’t forcing yourself into just one thing. If I were you, I would try and get a job/shadow someone in one (or more) of those fields during the summer. It will give you invaluable information. The good things is – and not many people know this – is that colleges often let you change course in the first month or so!


  2. Hi Dr. Martina!

    I would love to talk to you further about what you have learned about MBTI outside of your type. I am conducting research and would love to touch base with you.


    Twitter: @ENTPstruggs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, thanks for the “follow”. I, too, have taken the Meyer-Briggs personality test and am an ENTP as well. I LOVE a good debate. Looking forward to reading future posts. God bless and thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this but I found your post interesting (as an INTP, the NTP-ness resonates). As a freshman in university, I do feel frequently torn between the pressure to master one thing and contribute in a single powerful way or to delve into many things and seek some synergy between them, and how enjoyment of life factors into anything. I was reading that same book over the summer! (and still am far from deciding — need to shadow some people).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting site.
    A few years back, I decided it was time to write a psychology book for the high school students I know. So I did, and am now teaching it for the second time while also getting an MA in Psyche, since one ought to be qualified at some point, after being perhaps better than before, so you know what you want.
    I am about to discuss the MBTI, and your column popped into my life. Very interesting discussion of ENTP, and maybe that is my type; I don’t know. But I always want the eagle view of anything; not just the mole run of how to achieve something-or-other competence in it.
    Thanks for getting in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am a female millennial entp too ! Let’s be friends.
    I’ve been working for three years in a fairly structured environment at a large company which has given me the security to pursue my interests outside of work (travel travel travel ) and am happy with where I am living but beginning to feel the three year itch ! I relate completely. Also technically if you live outside of your passport country for like five years you are something like a third culture kid which also breeds restlessness. My goal is to be bicultural and get a dual citizenship but that would require staying in the same country for another five years give or take by the time the paperwork clears. Pretty satisfied with my life which as an entp makes me feel like it’s time to move on ! At other times in life I’ve considered kicking myself for not stopping to smell the roses but yeah well have to see what opportunities the universe provides.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah, well I am a blogger so the mask of the internet makes talking easier. The introverted aren’t always anti-social, just prefer to avoid talking for the sake of talking (or going out for the sake of going out). Some of that might mean we’re missing out on something but it’s no worry to me.

        I write mostly about philosophy, so if you’re bored, I encourage you to read some of my posts; I’d love to hear your feedback!


  7. I must say your article resonates so well, as I am an Millennial ENTP. If any of you reading agree, an ENTP favors: traveling, architecture, the outdoors, quizzes, brain teasers, sightseeing, problem solving, even recipes…just to name a few particular LOVES. Please tell me if you agree and share yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A friend referred me to this and I’m glad for it. This bit really resonates:

    >Sher recommends to write out the 10 lives that you will you could live. My list includes that of a retail investor, a philosopher, a psychiatrist, a blogger, a painter among others. Her argument is powerful: look at the list and see what can be done in 20 minutes a day – or just occasionally. I underlined this:

    >“Don’t dedicate yourself to poetry. Write poems.”

    My brain really started humming after reading that and I just loved the suggestion to write down the 10 or 20 lives I might live, then notice how I’ve been fooling myself into thinking they are mutually exclusive.

    I told the friend who sent me here (infj) that I would like making comics because I appreciate the structure but I’m so weak at drawing and don’t know comic culture enough to feel comfortable starting. I said “I remember how much I loved writing sonnets because of the forced structure.” She said, “write sonnets and draw terrible pictures for them.” And I thought “but how do I get the photos online?” A very odd thing to think considering that I’m fully capable of photographing and uploading hand drawn images on a blog post.

    So I notice this mass of various protestations in myself as I consider the different life’s I want to live, but on inspection, they are weak protests with simple solutions. 20 Minutes a day is right: I could have 52 sonnets with crappy drawings uploaded by next year. Or I could have 10, and realize I have done enough, and move on to the next life.


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