MBTI quick and dirty cheat sheet

Warning: internet trash folklore ahead

At a work dinner last night, a lovely lady whom I mentally typed as an ESFJ confessed to being in love with getting flowers and elaborated on the joys of it at length… Just like I was told they did on some less than credible website. Coincidence?!

Albeit the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is quite unscientific and given way too much credence, it can be great fun. So I collected the in no way scientific (but hugely useful) internet-folklore findings on MBTI that resonated with me here.

How to make each MBTI type fall in love with you
Some classy pictures from Luttrelstown Castle, Dublin to lift the mood

How to know if they like you for each MBTI type:

ENTP: prove themselves by arguing and arrogance

ENTJ: criticise

ENFP: smile more than usual

ENFJ: try to be perfect in front of you

ESTP: get awkward

ESTJ: become very attentive and turn into great listeners

ESFP: make fools of themselves in an endearing way

ESFJ: brag

INTP: troll

INTJ: stalk

INFP: nobody really knows

INFJ: it’s a secret

ISTP: confront and act direct

ISTJ: make a lot of intense eye contact

ISFP: blush

ISFJ: throw little glance and smiles

What word do the MBTI types use to describe someone they like:

INTJ: Kind

INTP: Obliging

ENTJ: Charming

ENTP: Magnanimous

INFJ: Sweet

INFP: Compassionate

ENFJ: Giving

ENFP: Bubbly

ISTJ: Helpful

ISFJ: Sensitive

ESTJ: Helpful

ESFJ: Warm

ISTP: Unassuming

ISFP: Affectionate

ESTP: Welcoming

ESFP: Generous

What does each MBTI type like in other people

How to quickly understand each of the 16 MBTI types:

INTJ: logical, methodical, skeptical, intimidating

INTP: intellectual, calm, unaware of their surroundings

ENTP: analytical, charming, irresponsible, distractible

ENFP: warm, inspiring, disorganised, in need of constant approval

ENFJ: passionate, charismatic, manipulative

ENTJ: strong, authoritative, intense

ESTJ: responsible, hard-working, obsessive

ESFJ: bubbly, respectful, shallow

ESFP: flamboyant, brave, reckless

ESTP: confident, brave, crude

ISTJ: realistic, have high standards, stale

ISFJ: kind, conservative, obsessive

ISFP: considerate, artistic, self-pitying, manipulative

INFJ: patient, understanding, complicated

INFP: idealistic, sweet, emotional, in need of constant approval

Each MBTI type in a few words

My sources? An merged assortment from Tumblr and Pinterest, the cradle of modern science. (Seriously, the original posts are mostly gone, so I can’t even credit them properly). If you are the original author and wish to be credited, please let me know.

 

In the mood for some mind games? You can try it too.

The trick is to start with T vs F. That should be obvious.

Then move on to J or P: do they prefer certainty and clarity or do they like spontaneity and open options?

S vs N: are the down-to-earth, practical and pragmatic or do they prefer thinking about the future?

E vs I can be very hard, but it is probably the one that matters the least.

 

Let me know how this horoscope works out for you ūüėČ

“There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think”

Shortly after I finished my medical degree, I pursued a master’s degree in finance. The 2008 market crash was pretty terrible for Ireland – and I was curious to find out get out of the medical bubble and learn about the world. After 5 years of medicine, everyone who wasn’t a doctor seemed well-rounded, but one of the most well-rounded wonderful¬†friends¬†I made during that masters suggested that I read Principles by Ray Dalio back in the day.

Dalio is the founder of (probably) the most successful hedge fund. Unlike all those 10-steps-to-success type books by various billionaires, Principles lacks the motivational element and has lots of cold rational logic. I found it to be a fascinating read.

You will find lots of free pdf copies of Principles online. The paid (expanded) version is a recent development. The book was in open access for years. The fact that it’s free is one of the things that made it different to books written by the likes of Richard Branson. I wonder what Dalio is up to with the paid version. The capitalist in him must be rebelling against giving out free stuff, I guess…

More recently, Dalio mentioned that reading Ayn Rand would be key to understanding the mindset of Trump era economics and politics. I poked around a few articles about Rand and was surprised to find that her philosophy was rejected by critics and academics. I’d never heard of these words in the same sentence. What does it mean to reject a philosophy? Turning to a family member beside me with this naive question, I received a less than naive answer: it is a situation where a philosophy isn’t politically expedient. Oh dear.

Nevertheless, her thoughts reminded me of Nietzsche. I don’t think he spoke about economics very much, but if he had, I am sure he would have said exactly what Rand had to say.

So I started with Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand philosophy reviewed Atlas Shrugged

Is Atlas Shrugged a pleasant read?

Just like Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged a philosophical book dressed up as a novel. For the more analytical among us, it’s definitely a stimulating read. The characters are a little flat and improbable, but that’s just the nature of these type of works. A few cringy sex scenes. A touch of naive feminism.

Rand writes in impossibly long sentences and can seem excessively intellectual-for-the-sake-of-being-intellectual. Over 1,000 pages of that can get tiring.

Is Atlas Shrugged a worthwhile read?

The book addresses some issues we face today in the West in a way that nobody would ever dare in this day and age. We can barely take a breath without getting a licence, insurance and paying tax on it. We’re not actually free to speak our mind out here, even though we pride ourselves on it. There has been a lot of violence in US universities against right wing groups citing social justice as a legitimate justification.

In such a world, Rand’s writing is a breath of fresh air – but not for long. The discerning reader soon realises that Rand painted an impossible utopia, just like the communists she so hates, and that she is simply wrong in many of her sweeping statements.

What’s Atlas Shrugged about?

It’s about a (slightly) dystopian United States with a touch of sci fi. Prepare for a lot of talk about railways, oil, steel and trains. A government nationalises the major corporations in a fever of extorting socialism. You can hazard a guess where she got her inspiration.

Who is Ayn Rand?

She was an atheist woman of Russian Jewish bourgeoisie origins. As a 20 year old, she left the USSR and settled in the US. Interestingly, she became an atheist before it was cool strongly recommended by the Soviets. Her father was a businessman. He was stripped of his fortune during the Revolution of 1917. Legend has it that the first book she purchased in the US was Thus spoke Zarathustra. 

Incidentally, it is thought that she is an INTJ, so our ENTP crowd are likely to like her style.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand objectivism philosophy explained

What did Ayn Rand believe?

1. Rand believed that religion and socialism are evil

Rand isn’t just against religion, she believes that socialists are basically Religion 2.0.

Both [religion and socialism] demand the surrender of your mind, one to their revelations, the other to their reflexes. No matter how loudly they posture in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and so are their aims: in matter‚ÄĒthe enslavement of man’s body, in spirit‚ÄĒthe destruction of his mind.

Neither religion nor socialism welcome questioning:

The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question…¬†Both kinds demand that you invalidate your own consciousness and surrender yourself into their power.

2. Rand rejected true world theories

Although Rand herself said “The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle”, this is more or less straight out of Nietzsche:

[Religion and socialism] claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence on this earth. The mystics of spirit call it ‘another dimension,’ which consists of denying dimensions. The mystics of muscle call it ‘the future,’ which consists of denying the present.


3. Rand thought that reality and perception are completely separate

Shakespeare said that nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Rand begs to differ:

They want to cheat the axiom of existence and consciousness, they want their consciousness to be an instrument not of perceiving but of creating existence, and existence to be not the object but the subject of their consciousness‚ÄĒthey want to be that God they created in their image and likeness, who creates a universe out of a void by means of an arbitrary whim. But reality is not to be cheated.

A savage is a being who has not grasped that A is A and that reality is real. 

The fact that we can perceive things that aren’t what they initially seem doesn’t take away from the separation of reality and perception:

The day when he grasps that the reflection he sees in a mirror is not a delusion, that it is real, but it is not himself, that the mirage he sees in a desert is not a delusion, that the air and the light rays that cause it are real, but it is not a city, it is a city’s reflection‚ÄĒthe day when he grasps that he is not a passive recipient of the sensations of any given moment, that his senses do not provide him with automatic knowledge in separate snatches independent of context, but only with the material of knowledge, which his mind must learn to integrate‚ÄĒthe day when he grasps that his senses cannot deceive him, that physical objects cannot act without causes, that his organs of perception are physical and have no volition, no power to invent or to distort, that the evidence they give him is an absolute, but his mind must learn to understand it, his mind must discover the nature, the causes, the full context of his sensory material, his mind must identify¬†things that he perceives‚ÄĒthat is the day of his birth as a thinker and scientist. (Note that this is all one sentence!)

4. Rand postulated that a contradiction is the marker of a mistake

A touch of Aristotle:

Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

Emotion that isn’t congruent with thought indicated an unresolved conflict:

An emotion that clashes with your reason, an emotion that you cannot explain or control, is only the carcass of that stale thinking which you forbade your mind to revise.

5. Rand believed that refusing to think is a crime

Much as I disagree with Rand on many points, I do agree with this:

There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think. 

To varying extents, we are all guilty of this – and our parents are, of making us trust authority over our own judgement:

A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others. Somewhere in the distant reaches of his childhood, when his own understanding of reality clashed with the assertions of others, with their arbitrary orders and contradictory demands, he gave in to so craven a fear of dependence that he renounced his rational faculty.

If you’ve given up on thinking, emotion is all that’s left:

From then on, afraid to think, he is left at the mercy of unidentified feelings. His feelings become his only guide, his only remnant of personal identity, he clings to them with ferocious possessiveness‚ÄĒand whatever thinking he does is devoted to the struggle of hiding from himself that the nature of his feelings is terror.

It’s not possible to be rational while only being rational about certain things:

Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason the cookies I stole, or the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else‚ÄĒthat was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind.

Resorting to mysticism means an inability to convince:

Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator…¬†A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement.

If anyone wonders what it would be like to be Antichrist, just post the below on Instagram:

To a savage, the world is a place of unintelligible miracles where anything is possible to inanimate matter and nothing is possible to him.

6. Religion is a racket according to Rand

I went to an uber-Catholic school at one point. I recall my teacher telling me with great conviction that Jesus died for us. This thing we hear all the time is actually quite a confusing statement, so I asked why he had to die for us. The teacher proceeded to explain the concept of the original sin – and all I was thinking of, sure what have I to do with that? If forgiveness is more or less the ultimate virtue in Christianity, how come God is still holding Adam and Eve’s mischief against us? Rand seems to be of the same opinion:

The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin. A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral.

Here is her summary of how religion rose to power:

For centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection racket‚ÄĒby making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners.

7. Universal basic income has no place in a Randian world

Rand is pointing out the Ponzi scheme in UBI:

They proclaim that every man born is entitled to exist without labor and, the laws of reality to the contrary notwithstanding, is entitled to receive his ‘minimum sustenance’‚ÄĒhis food, his clothes, his shelter‚ÄĒwith no effort on his part, as his due and his birthright. To receive it‚ÄĒfrom whom? Blank-out.

8. Decisions: make them or die, says Rand

Rand advocates extreme responsibility. It one of the main virtues to her. A person who doesn’t take responsibility doesn’t deserve to live:

Calmly and impersonally, she [the main character], who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

9. Trade is the ultimate human relationship

There is a lot of worshipping of the dollar in the book. Rand says that trade is great because it is consensual and it creates value for both parties:

Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss‚ÄĒthe recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery‚ÄĒthat you must offer them values, not wounds‚ÄĒthat the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods.

Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade‚ÄĒwith reason, not force, as their final arbiter‚ÄĒit is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability‚ÄĒand the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward.¬†

But what about love, I hear you ask? Her views on love are all about self-interest. Ultimately, love is a deal people make.

The Randian Ubermensch:

  • unconditionally loves life
  • has infinite belief in himself
  • is driven by intellect and self-interest
  • doesn’t wallow in weakness
  • takes responsibility for absolutely everything that happens to him
  • does not sacrifice and takes the oath:¬†“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine.”

ayn rand objectivism is wrong

Holes in Rand’s philosophy

1.¬†Rand doesn’t address the issue of chance

Rand says:

As there can be no causeless wealth, so there can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. 

There are all of these things in real life. Not for good reason, but they do exists. This is the main reason her philosophy isn’t useful: Rand doesn’t address the issue of chance.

Very often people who succeed overdefine their successes (and failures). It’s almost like survivor’s guilt: “I made it because I tried. If you haven’t made it, it’s because you didn’t try hard enough.” We all know that that’s not how things are in reality. In the long term, yes, Fortune favours the bold – or so I tell myself.

Most of the main characters appear to have inherited their fortune. John Galt, the real hero of the story, the inventor of the marvellous engine, didn’t. He wouldn’t have risen to the top by inventing an engine in real life. His invention would have been coopted by the owner of the huge corporation he worked for. He would probably get a gift voucher at the Christmas party. Where is the guy who invented the internet now? “It wasn’t one person.” True. But it wasn’t one person who made computers, smartphones, Facebook or whatever – yet we can put a name to these things because someone managed to make it into their own business.

Ayn Rand opposes that horrible Soviet-like “Equalisation of Opportunity” act in her novel, but this is why her philosophy has done little to address the downsides of socialism: she doesn’t address their main concern – that chance plays a large part in one’s life.

2. Rand looks for patterns where there aren’t any

A closely related point is that Rand believes that everything can be made into science.

The links you strive to drown are causal connections. The enemy you seek to defeat is the law of causality: it permits you no miracles.

Causality is a very ambitious concept to manoeuvre with. During my study of statistics I understood that causality is all smoke and mirrors. All we have are some intuitive concepts of what causes what. There is no real way to prove causality.

Looking for patterns in randomness has always been a hobby of the human race. Rain is caused by the generous sacrifices to the goddess of agriculture in the previous years. Investment returns are caused by prior results. A successful career follows from great interview performance. No. They aren’t. Some things are just random. Rand didn’t understand that.

3. Rand rejects the idea that there are things outside of our control

…it cannot be done to you without your consent. If you permit it to be done, you deserve it.

Here is more of Rand’s blame-the-victim philosophy. In certain contexts, the above is true, but it’s not quite as black and white as Rand makes out. What if your parents are addicted to drugs and you are addicted now too. Did you deserve it? Were you wrong to trust the people who gave you life and basically were your life for a long time?

This is how people get to be neurotic in the modern world: beating themselves up for not being able to control things… that they cannot possibly control. Rand rejects the idea that there are things outside of our control.

4. Rand confuses useful assumptions and absolutes

‘We know that we know nothing,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are claiming knowledge‚ÄĒ’There are no absolutes,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are uttering an absolute‚ÄĒ’You cannot prove that you exist or that you’re conscious,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that proof presupposes existence, consciousness and a complex chain of knowledge: the existence of something to know, of a consciousness able to know it, and of a knowledge that has learned to distinguish between such concepts as the proved and the unproved.

Socrates got a beating there. To my mind, Rand is overambitious. A reasonable human being will operate on her assumptions, but they will not take them to be the only possibility.

5. Rand forgets the darker side of trade

To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.

What about selling heroin, Ayn?

And, Ayn, if you don’t hire me to be your security guard, I will break your windows.

It’s not just the Church that blackmails people.

6. Rand believes we live in a meritocracy of irreplaceable minds

In Atlas Shrugged, the brightest, most industrious people escape into a hidden world one by one as their creations get nationalised. This leads to a failed state; everything comes to a stand-still. Would this happen in reality?

This assumes that we live in a meritocracy. I believe in the power of genetics more than most people, but not everyone who inherits their parent’s empire is going to be as good as them. Rand acknowledges this fact in her character Jim Taggart, but seems to imply that the best will still rise to the top.

I don’t think that the world would be quite so helpless without its aristocracy. Every significant change of power in history has led to the destruction of the previous regime’s nobility. They just kept going anyway though: new nobility found its feet pretty quickly. When Atlas gets tired, he just adjusts his grip.

7. Rand states that happiness is the purpose of life

What a nice and simple formula. Only it is as foggy as dividing by zero. What does it mean to be happy, Ayn?

ayn rand nietzsche philosophy

What is my verdict on Rand’s philosophy?

I do agree that reality exists without our consciousness (this is the central idea of objectivism).

I admire her love of life, reality, intellect and industrious creation of value.

I think she simplified the complex and destroyed her credibility.

Her work is more of an ideology with defined values than a philosophy that helps to understand the word.

 

Steal my checklist and stop feeling overwhelmed in the mornings

When I hear the word checklist, I think of bored looking men with clipboards standing by conveyor belts, doing quality control in a soulless brave new world factory worshipping Henry Ford. However, things changed when I first had to actually use one – during a flying lesson. It didn’t seem that bad at all, providing reassurance and a sense of completion. The negative¬†reinforcement of doing 2g¬†must have kept this thought dormant for a long time, but I decided to revisit these beacons of productivity that I imagine all the perfect people from Instagram tick off every day.

checklist to use in the morning
My first flight was out of Biggin Hill near London with flirty Irish-Italian instructor who insisted on doing 2g straight away

There are things that are inherently hard to do.

Realistically, getting out of bed is something that comes easily to a very select few – and these select few change every day, depending on what they expect from their day.

For those of us, who are less than euphoric on most mornings (i.e. slightly less than 100% of people, the slightly less bit accounted for mostly by people in acute mania or still high from the night before), a checklist could be a good way to ease the drift towards existential questions or reflection on the pressure of a brand new day, another attempt to achieve, another day to seize and make the most of, squeezing out the last drop where anything that wouldn’t make¬†NutriBullet engineers blush simply isn’t enough.

That’s the real Nutribullet challenge. I cannot emphasise the usefulness of waking up at the same time every day. I use the iPhone Bedtime feature for this. It’s generally good for the circadian rhythm and creates a sense of control.

how to use checklists to make mornings easier
Sometimes you have to be on autopilot to enjoy the view

How do I keep up with being a doctor, an editor, a blogger, travel, house-hunt, read Nietzsche and get 8 hours of sleep? Well, my success rate is a little volatile.

In order to stay moving ahead, there are certain things that I simply must do every day. I have a startup checklist – things I do every morning – and things I do throughout the day. I use an app called Checklist+, or sometimes I just print it on a page.

My morning checklist achieves one main purpose: it takes out the need to make decisions.

Decisions are extremely consuming for our metaphorical RAM, especially when it is the morning and the possibilities seem so vast. It’s not like I will forget to brush my teeth if I don’t look at the checklist. It is that I don’t have to figure out: “what do I do first?” which can be extremely taxing when I just wake up.

checklist for the morning for a girl
There is something life-affirming about pink Edwardian letters

The alternative, on many mornings, is feeling out of control as I rush to work and resent having other people’s checklists imposed on me, or going straight to the laptop, surrounding myself with green tea paraphernalia and snacks, only to realise by midday that I haven’t actually done much other than worked in a virtual mailroom. The loss of productive time however, doesn’t stop there. It dictates how the rest of the day will unfold.¬†It is the mood setting that matters:

You see the 10 push ups in the checklist? Do they build any real muscle? Hardly. What they do is they set me up to feel healthy and capable of overcoming challenges.

I am much less likely to go creeping on a former classmate’s Facebook page or drinking hot chocolate after doing even a few pushups than I would be if I had just spent the morning lazying around in my pyjamas. It’s that phenomenon of consistency that Cialdini talks about.

My next item on the agenda is the domino piece.

… As distinct from the Domino’s slice from yesterday’s dinner. The domino piece is the most important item on my work to-do list or the one that makes all other pieces irrelevant. I deal with the thing I resist the most first. Perhaps this is why I find mornings so cognitively taxing. [I will insert a proper reference for this soon]. However, having spent years chiselling out this productive approach, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

My 2nd checklist is the one for the day. It allows me to move forward. This isn’t work related, and it doesn’t change day to day.checklist for a successful dayMindfulness helps me to stay in touch with reality. Walking is simply good for us human beings, as N.N. Taleb says.¬†He can nearly match a word count of his essay writing to his miles walked. It’s near impossible to stay cognitively refreshed unless one reads. Exercise goes without saying.

I have lots of other, more specific checklists. It’s an ENTP thing. We like lists. I don’t get them done perfectly everyday, but it is a good guide.

I mentioned the sense of control a few times here. The point isn’t to be a control freak.

One of the most important lessons I learnt from dealing with my own students is that a sense of control is the ultimate source of motivation and agency. It is the natural predator of learnt helplessness – which is far more pervasive in our lives than we think.

Checklists allow us to remain in control without investing expensive cognitive RAM – because they are our¬†checklists, not Henry Ford’s.

Dearest reader, if you’ve read this far, you know what to do.

  1. Pick a wake-up time (or let your child pick it for you).
  2. Make your own checklist. Just one.
  3. Drop your expectations and keep it very simple.
  4. Do it for 10 days and reward yourself for doing it. Does Pavlov ring a bell?

You may also like: Top 5 music apps for mindful focus

Mindfulness in a difficult situation 1/2

Mindfulness takes people away from sadness over the past or worries over the future. What if the now feels stressful? With the brutal honesty this situation deserves, I describe the fleeting thoughts and finer insights I’ve been able to obtain by being in the moment as much as I could – in a difficult situation I caused. I felt it more, which was painful, but I also learnt more than I would have by not paying attention. Once again I learn that what made this situation difficult was rooted in the past or projected to the future. This story may be difficult to read for anyone who love animals, especially cats.

A charming new friend

I’ve always loved the furry little creatures. Maybe it is growing up with The Lion King as a favourite cartoon, I am not sure. Last Monday, coming back from work I felt quite lonely. There are a lot of feral cats near where I live. The community here feed them, it’s like a little sanctuary for them. In case you were wondering, cats can live in a kind of a pride, they’re not always solitary like it is normally presumed. I don’t usually pet them. ¬†i tell myself the reason is that they have all kinds of parasites, etc. There’s something else that bothers me though:

I feel there’s something disingenuous about petting a stray cat. I am interfering with its life, implying that I can be good for the cat, but really I don’t know if I am habituating it to being accepting of humans when it shouldn’t necessarily be.

However, this cute grey kitten of about 8 months old sat there on a garden fence, looking at me. I came over to pet it and it seemed very happy. I was very happy too. We played for about 10 minutes and then she followed me for a long stretch of the journey home. I even wondered – should I bring her to stay in my garden, feed her, etc. But there are other cats living there, who knows what they’ll do. We passed by someone in a man hole and the cat didn’t want to keep going.

She made eye contact with me as I regretfully waved at her – and ran back to her part of the beach.

Talking to a friend later that day, I reminisced about the cat that we had when I was younger. She had to be given away as I had bad allergic rhinitis. My friend reassured me that it was good for me to befriend a cat like that, and it would be right to have the cat migrate from where it normally lives.

On Thursday I was passing by the same stretch of the beach. All of a sudden the very same kitty appeared out of nowhere. I know that dogs have a fantastic sense of smell, but this cat new who I was as it came over very confidently awaiting to be cuddled. About 10 minutes later, I decided it wouldn’t be right to play with the cat and not feed it. After all, these cutesy cats know how to play us: they are very used to getting fed by humans. So I decided that we shall cross the road and get some tuna in the shop. You know where this is going…

Watching the consequences of bad judgement in real time

I carried the cat across the road, but as we were finished crossing, agitated, she wanted to get out of my arms. And I let her. She jumped on the pavement. We were a good few metres away from the cars at this point – and all of a sudden she bolted back to run to the other side of the road.

The next moment seemed to last forever.

I don’t know how long it took her to get across. I remember the tiny pieces of cat fur vaporised in the air as if they were feathers. I remember anxious drivers mindful of their blind spots but also aware of the traffic behind them on a busy road… At the same time, it happened so fast, I don’t even know which car hit her. I stood there terrified.¬†Even after it was injured it relentlessly kept searching for safety, breathing fast, its back arched and eyes wide open, pulling itself by its front paws.

I felt that I had taken this defenceless trusting creature, promised her safety and negligently let her fall into the Styx.

The adrenaline was pumping, but I knew that I couldn’t just go out into the stream of cars to save her. Between the traffic coming from 2 sides and the frantic cat, all at night time, there were more moving parts than I could safely handle.The hardest part was standing there, watching the poor cat trying to get to safety having absolutely no insight into how traffic works knowing that this wouldn’t have happened without me and realising my own powerlessness.

Most of this blog is in some way related to mindfulness.

By and large, mindfulness makes life easier to be mindful as the vast majority of moments are better than anxieties about the future or ruminations about the past. This wasn’t one of those moments.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget it – neither should I.

There were just seconds between being a happy friendly kitten and suffering the most intense fear and life-threatening injuries.

When I came over to her, her little heart was pounding so fast I could barely distinguish a pulse.

As I lifted her, it was obvious her back legs weren’t functional. She tried to climb into a bush, dragging herself by her front legs.

As a doctor, I have a certain confidence when it comes to emergency situations: I was trained to handle emergencies. However, it turns out this only applies to specific emergencies. Given the time of day, it didn’t even occur to me to look for a vet. Just like the cat’s, my instinct was to hide in my own metaphorical bush – carry her home, to my safety. As I carried her, I thought she might be dying. Cats’ pupils are usually so tiny. This cat’s were so dilated, I could barely see the green of her irises. She was supine in my arms, staring into space, hyperventilating and foaming at the mouth.

I’d never seen so much anguish in any creature’s eyes.

Reflection and rumination

What stopped me from crossing on my own to get the cat food? It seemed like it would be so much fun to go together. It seems that with all that scrolling through Instagram, I’d forgotten that animals aren’t a form entertainment. They have fragile lives that we don’t understand the same way that they do. One of the reasons I didn’t think that it was in issue to bring the cat across was that I’d seen plenty of cats crossing the road like they knew exactly what they were doing. I’ve seen a few lucky escapes by less than knowledgeable cats, but they somehow didn’t come up in my mind quite so prominently. It was possibly a semi-conscious decision to refuse insight as it seemed that doing things together with this cat was my way to connect with it and to feel less lonely. She’s a lonely stray cat, and I felt like a stray that day too.

It felt right to pick her up – and felt wrong to be overly calculated about it.

As she ran back across I tried to stop her. Even at that point, I was a bit scared but mostly confident she knew what she was doing.

There’s a certain arrogance that comes with being human.

When I picked her up the first time, I was sure I knew how to handle a cat. I felt I knew more about what’s good for the cat than she did. But really, what am I capable of? I can’t pause the traffic. I can’t keep a cat due to family circumstances. I can’t expect to find someone to home a sick cat in a country full of stray cats. I can’t even be sure I can pay the vet’s bills.

It’s a terrifying realisation: how fragile we all are. It is so hard to handle this concept. It’s hard to not feel helpless knowing how vulnerable we really are.

Not only was this creature fragile, but also lacking in insight. This poor cat didn’t know how it worked even though it lived by the road.

And it just reminded me of how we all are: we don’t know why things happen the way they happen.

Things seem random and dangerous. We try so hard, we give it all we’ve got, but we don’t know how to get to safety any better than this little kitten.

Guilt, guilt, more guilt

Is it all just guilt? There’s a lot of guilt. While everything I did was well intended, it was also negligent. I should have known that the feral cat isn’t that used to being picked up, that it may want to run home, that it may not understand how the road works.

It’s difficult to recognise that being well intended, I ended up putting this cat into a horrible situation.

At the same time I know that I was never going to be perfect. I err; it is my nature as a human being. I can forgive myself at some point, given that I learnt. It’s tough to write this. All of this is written while crying. I’ve been crying multiple times a day since this happened. It’s my n-th draft. The least I can do is learn and share what I learnt. I can’t let go of this until I learn everything I can – and of course, do everything I can for the poor cat.

Of course, I realise that all of these ruminations aren’t very mindful. However, I have no intention of purging them as I know they’re trying to teach me something. Most of this is written as they occur.

I know it’s better to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings: the good, the bad and the ugly rather than trying to get rid of them.¬†It’s the choices and actions that count, so that’s my focus now.

No vet was open at this late hour. I rang a few “emergency” numbers where the vets all advised me to wait until tomorrow. I struggled to fall asleep. I tried to focus on my breath as my mind insisted on replaying the events of the night as well as all the ifs and the should haves… It was particularly hard to let go of those. I couldn’t, but I kept trying. I woke up very early the next morning. It wasn’t clear whether it was alive as it hid behind the air conditioning unit. I didn’t want to wake it. It was only a fleeting thought of yet another part of me that I am seriously not proud of that she¬†was dead so that I wouldn’t have to face difficult decisions at the vet’s like having to “put her to sleep”. It wouldn’t be sleep though, would it?

When we got to the vet in the morning, this woman in her early 40s didn’t seem enthused at having to see a stray. She examined the cat: there was reason to believe that the spine could be broken and the bladder ruptured, both of which a guarded¬†prognosis. I cried again in the vet’s office. The vet wasn’t in any way unprofessional, but she had a cold and clinical style. It seems I was sufficiently inconsolable to get her a bit more involved. When she was writing up the cat’s chart, the vet asked me what the cat’s name was. This is when I really stopped being able to speak through the tears. Obviously, cats don’t give consent, but if they did, I felt that I surely didn’t have it. I failed this animal, I didn’t have any rights over her and surely she was not the sort of cat who has a name. She was a feral cat, and it was time for me to finally respect that fact.

I am crying again while I am writing this. My emotions seem completely overwhelming.

I had a role to play in this cat’s misfortune. I made an error in judgement. I realised yet again our fragility and transience. It’s bad, but it doesn’t explain how intensely bad I feel.

Transference and empathy

To some extent, I feel that this isn’t a stray cat, but my old cat from years ago. Freud called it transference. On another level, I feel that I have much in common with the cat. I believe that is what they really call empathy. Being an NT¬†type on Myers-Briggs, it seems to me that I don’t¬†feel things as intensely or as quickly as some others seem to. I might come across as cold to some people, but I it’s not really what it’s like for me. I cry from watching films, reading books… I can’t watch fail videos… I couldn’t even finish Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, in the same way that, I would argue, the main character wouldn’t finish it either.

Having a habit of reading deeply into things, I wonder if being a thinking type (as distinct from a feeling type) is a form of defence – because experiencing real, insightful empathy is utterly intolerable.

Perhaps that’s why most nerds seem kind of maladjusted socially and don’t relate well to people.

IQ combined with EQ allows one to see things that are very scary – and nobody wants to be this scared. Perhaps having a high grade on both of these stops being evolutionary advantageous.

Of course, ¬†it is about how one uses it, but even that requires constant overriding of primal limbic empathy. I remember seeing pictures of Syrian children that went viral and feeling awful on one level, simply as any human being would towards a harmed child, on another – recognising that such emotionally charged images are used to promote certain political interests, that most people who see the images don’t realise this and that this lack of insight from the mass readership of social media and newspapers is instrumental in the advancement of the said political interests. It’s not that I have the opposite political interest, it is the fact that politics is involved that made it feel nasty. In other words, suffering children are used to condition the masses in a way that suits some elite. This isn’t all that deep, but it’s just an example of IQ and EQ working together to show how the world is a hugely complex place. Why am I using the word complex? Why not just say that its nasty? Well, because I know that I don’t fully understand it. Maybe the consequences of this media reporting are going to be better than the alternative. I will never know.

A few attempts at rationalisation

Years ago, I read about Shingon Buddhism. It’s not something that is written about a lot on the internet or indeed in print. It teaches about right and wrong in a way that we’re not used to.

For example, if a tiger kills an antelope, we conventionally feel sorry for the antelope. There’s something wrong about it. In reality, the tiger needs to kill the antelope because its little tiger cub will shrivel and die otherwise. What is right and what is wrong?

We like the day and fear the night: but they can’t exist without each other. I guess Buddhism, in general, tells us that it’s difficult to judge what’s good and bad, at least as far as external circumstances we’ve no control over are concerned.

Of course, part of me is consoling myself and searching for a rationalisation. However, there genuinely may be some good that will emerge from this experience. Maybe my learning will help me – or someone reading this – to do something better than what we would have otherwise done. In a strange twist, a day or two before this happened, I was replying to someone’s comment and saying that meaning remains after death, regardless of whether one’s top of the food chain homo sapiens or… a feral cat. I hope she doesn’t die from this, but in any case, she is very meaningful to me.

Lessons I learnt

We’re all fragile. A moment can change everything. It’s a bad idea to interfere in another’s life as I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do about it.

What else did I learn?

At no point during the ordeal did the cat show any signs of giving up.

I am here lamenting and analysing. The cat is getting on with her life. Tildeb recently introduced me to some old English literature, and in particular this:

Whether fate be foul or fair,

Why falter I or fear?

What should man do but dare?

The cat doesn’t give up. The cat is always preoccupied with her surroundings. She’s constantly looking around and just does her best to adapt. The night before we went to the vet she cried, I assume for her relatives and because of pain. I’d never heard a cat cry before. It’s kind of like a dog squealing, but less protracted and a bit more like a meow. It’s also completely heart-wrenching.

I also learnt a huge amount about guilt, compassion, motivation, bias, empathy, sense of self and expectations.

To be continued….

mindfulness in a difficult situation
No words

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 ‚̧

advice-for-female-entps

Confessions of a career-switching millennial

I seem to never be able to shake the feeling that I am not doing what I should be doing. I always try to look for the lead domino – the most important thing I should be doing. I haven’t reached that extreme where I am stopped by perfectionism. I am aware of this trait and cognitively, I understand that done is better than perfect.

However, even when I am doing things – I nearly always feel that the part of my brain that is meta-analysing: is this really what I should be doing? What is the opportunity cost? What am I missing out on by being here? Obviously, when part of my RAM is taken up like this, I am less functional. In addition, it is quite the saboteur: it kills motivation.

confessions of a confused millenial

I am also very familiar with how it is possible to get nowhere fast. Execute brilliantly, get a brilliant result – but not the right result. It’s like not being quite sure where you are sailing to, working hard to get to a good place, arriving at a beautiful tropical island only to realise that you’re allergic to everything on it.

I’ve always envied the people who didn’t struggle with this. However, at this point I realise that many of them oversimplified their problems. Engaging with uncertainty – including the uncertainty of one’s own mind is optional. A lot of the people who have this seemingly inalienable clarity simply ran away from uncertainty and are blissfully ignorant in their cocoon.

In a sense, I’ve experienced this clarity myself – I’ve always known where I wanted to live and that I want certain people around. These things always appeared kind of black and white to me – of course, I oversimplified. However, there’s a significant difference here: you can generally move quite easily. You can build new relationships relatively quickly too. And the thing that you dedicate your life to – that has a big lead time on it. It is also subject to a compounding effect. People who spend long periods of time doing something specific almost inevitably become exceptional at it. This also kind of means that if you don’t commit to one thing – you will never be quite good at anything.¬†It’s a scary thought for any millennial.

As a millennial, I have already switched a couple of very different jobs – being a doctor, working in management consulting, a start-up, diverse small business projects – and I often do many of these things at the same time. The reason for switching was never a failure of any sort. What was it?

I think part of the reason is a kind of insatiable curiosity about real life. With formal education now taking not all out 20 years – and in my case it was very intense formal education, I have a feeling like there is so much out there I haven’t seen. I feel compelled to try things. Perhaps, I only have this insight due to the education I’ve received. I’m not quite sure.

Another reason was the feeling that something is missing.¬†It always feels like I should have more ownership – and to be really able to put all my weight behind a project. Perhaps that’s why it feels like there has to be the one¬†thing that I will do.

Things aren’t as I expected: being a doctor is quite different to how most people imagine it to be. What makes an office job good or bad also came as a complete surprise. Entrepreneurship isn’t something I considered remotely interesting, in fact I hadn’t considered it full stop when I was younger – it wasn’t quite as glamourised back then. Again – it turned out completely different to how I imagined it. As I keep learning that the only way to figure whether I will like doing something is to try it -how can I resist wanting to try it?¬†This approach is congruent with the way traditional advertising doesn’t work with millennials: we have learnt not to trust what we’re told – at least in certain circumstances – and instead we rely on social proof, the next best thing after trying it yourself.

I think a lot of people prefer the comfort of certainty to the dangers of this journey – hence they stick with the thing they know. Why is it though that things aren’t as I expected? I doubt I am the only one. There seem to be a lot of informational asymmetries and a huge amount of erroneous preconceptions when it comes to younger people deciding what they will do. I know this because I am in touch with many of them in my education project. I wish we could dispel the myths that surround certain activities. At the same time, I know it’s impossible for a variety of real world reasons.

I guess we live in an age where the barriers of moving between careers are low enough so that those who want to brave those seas can do so, but high enough that we can’t quite see what we are getting into – so the only way to find out remains through experimentation.

UPDATE: Literally, minutes after posting this, I randomly ended up on LinkedIn – where I saw a chap I remembered from school change career. He’s one of the most intelligent people I know. He just went from M&A lawyer in a top firm to an iOs developer – also in a top firm. I think I know what’s on his mind.

why do millennials switch careers

The dangers of laser-like focus

Passion and focus are spoken about all the time. “You have to be passionate about what you’re doing, or it’s not right for you.” All the heroes of our time – mostly in tech – are known for their relentless focus on their passion. It probably culminates in the now near-mythological figure¬†that is Steve Jobs.

the dangers of focus

I am highly distractible, but when it came to something I consider important – I’ve always been the kind of person who locks on – and that’s it. A certain degree of fanaticism was involved in many of the projects I pursued. When I was a medical student, the rest of the world didn’t exist outside of medicine. When I did HIIT, I really did it – stars in my eyes and all. Even this – I said I would blog every day.

In my experience, it’s a double edged sword. Focus is always avoiding the completeness of the present moment. We trade awareness for a hope of a better future. It’s still puzzling to me how one can be purely mindful and make plans, but our culture certainly tells us to make lots of them – and don’t forget the assorted to-do lists to go with it.

Even forgetting about mindfulness, focus is dangerous: focus on the wrong thing – and it’s a real problem. I’ve obsessed about the things that most girls obsess about: boys, weight, nice things. I am in my 20s, so it’s quite forgivable. Still, having the kind of personality that locks onto things, it’s tough to get out of a focus-rut once you are in it. It’s not OCD, but the word tormenting seems appropriate. My only medicine for this has been mindfulness – or a rude awakening from the real world. I much prefer the former.

For those of us who are super-focused, or those reading all of this advice to be laser-focused and wishing that they could be like that, remember that it comes at a price.

being really focused

To-solve list, not to-do list

As an ENTP, I abhor repetitive tasks. The reason I say this now is that I am writing up solutions to an Economics exam for my education venture. It is taking forever. Every distraction seems like a lifeboat out of this gloom. I usually only deal with English – that’s how the whole thing started. I love English because it is creative. I love Maths because it requires hard logic and open-mindedness – which is kind of like being creative, though a little different. Having said that, school Maths puts a cap on how creative you need to be. English doesn’t. You can write an essay on Hamlet that’s the best in the world. However, a quadratic equation is just that. School Maths doesn’t ask hard enough questions. Even still, most other school subjects are even more repetitive – case in point here with Economics. Obviously, real life economics is as complex ¬†and interesting as anything, but school has a way of putting creativity in a cage. The good news is that English seems to be exempt from this rule.

to solve list not to do list

This got me thinking about how to handle repetitive tasks, or anything nagging in general. I try to have a to-do list to put some kind of structure on my day, it feels like a warden watching over me. I just don’t like the feeling. When I don’t cross something off the list on the day it was meant to be done, it reappears the next day like a zombie-stalker. It’s an even worse feeling. I certainly don’t feel enticed to do this to-do.

The key to a to-do¬†list is to find the leading domino. What is the most important task? What task will make the biggest difference to the future? What task will the make the other tasks irrelevant? Clearly, a to-do list requires more than execution – it requires judgement if you are going to do it well. Furthermore, to-do’s are just fragments of bigger plans. Their relevance deteriorates faster than than the value of a brand new car. Obviously, the to-do’s arise from a plan on how to solve problems and achieve goals. However, whether they address the problem today – isn’t always clear. To-do lists, unless used with care, can be a right recipe to be super busy while you are getting nowhere fast.

I think there is something to be said for playing to your strengths. On that note, how about have a list of problems to solve, not things to do? After all, to-do’s come easily, once you know what you are focusing on. It makes you think, solve, be creative – and be in control. Motivation is all about control. After that you can actually do – execute. This to-solve approach helps with the feeling that you are the powerless servant of a relentless unforgiving to-do list that knows that you should be doing better than you do.¬†

More than 7% of communication

Looking at things from as many angles as possible is my favourite past time. I was reflecting on the nature of how we use language in light of my recent musings on what psychiatry taught me. Most of all it taught me that what people say isn’t nearly what they mean.¬†It’s like the same words mean different things to different people – and you needn’t be in psychosis for that to occur. Rather than considering one language from the point of view of two people, I scouted for insights the perspective of one person and two languages.

what-people-say-isnt-what-they-mean

However, before we go there, we can even look at one language. The way we use words even differs within the English speaking world – I am sure you can think of examples. Saying someone is different in Canada is a polite way of saying they are an outright freak – and not in a good way. Not so much in Ireland: different can be good.

I happen to be bilingual in English and Russian. You can judge my command of English, and I can tell you that my command of Russian matches that. Consider this situation: you’ve just met a lovely new colleague over lunch and found the interaction pleasant. You meet a colleague you are friendly with later and tell them of your encounter with the new girl: “She’s very nice.” There’s no way you would use the word nice when speaking of someone you met and liked in Russian. You would say what literally translates as: “She’s very interesting.” The literal translation happens to be rude in some parts of the world, especially in Ireland. In Russia, nice is reserved for kittens and puppies. All the while, the emotion you experienced from the encounter is exactly the same. This is why translations go wrong.

Maybe it’s just a bad example and a poorly matched translation? Let’s consider something black and white then: yes and no. When Russians say no –¬†and they do that a lot, it could mean that there’s some minor adjustment required, or it might even be an interjection – the same way that well is in English. When you say no¬†in English – especially in the UK and Ireland – it means you never want to hear this again. A Russian nice is much nicer than an English nice, and a Russian no is much milder than an English no.¬†No wonder there are misunderstandings. Words are able to cardinally change the way we feel about something.

So why do they keep saying that the words we use account for just 7% of communication?

What is the difference between skill and talent?

I was just reading my Myers-Briggs profile. I am convinced that I was born without whatever innate social skills most people are born with, my parents aren’t the most popular people, I am an only child – and was a sickly one and so had to be at home a lot. What a constellation. The house pet we had was a cat, so that was of no help (except understanding that being cute leads to cuddles). However, I pursue social skills – watch people who are charismatic and have gravitas, read about it, think about it and pay attention. Fundamentally, I think social skills are about paying attention to the people you are with.

what-is-the-difference-between-skill-and-talent-mindfulness

I think Johnny Depp is one of the most charismatic people on the planet. There are plenty of people who are even better looking that Mr Depp. In fact, he looks sort of niche, sort of ethnic, even though he’s not. Why do men, women and children swoon after him? I think it’s down to the way he acts – make sure that everyone around him feels good. Perpetually self-depricating and vulnerable. I believe that this too is an act – after all, he is a phenomenal actor. Having watched a huge number of interviews with him, I’ve noticed a few hints at the value he puts on being liked. So, he’s not just a genuine guy with a beautiful face – he’s a genius psychologist. Tip: if you want to see an interview with someone, check if Larry King interviewed that person – he is exceptional at getting people to open up.

Back to Myers-Briggs. As an ENTP, I cannot handle repetitive tasks and routine. If there are no decisions to be made, no alternative routes to be explored – I get bored. Then I thought of the cliche – repetition is the mother of skill.¬†So… does this mean I am going to be useless? I think not. Ray Dalio is a well-known ENTP who is particularly outspoken about what he believes. He says that you can always get other people to do the *doing*, but you have to the one doing the *thinking*. Is thinking a skill? Am I good at it because I do it so much? Thinking, done right, certainly does not feel repetitive. Is it a talent?

Talent is something you are born with. Skill is something you acquire. I don’t think anybody ever taught me to or encouraged me tho think, yet it happens anyway. So maybe, skill is something we don’t inherently want to do. Entropy is always going against skill. Skill benefits from volatility and change, for sure, but within pretty narrow limits. Talent, I think, is far more antifragile, gaining new incarnations as the world around us changes.