ESTP Personal Growth

Written by contributing author Robert G. Heyward

What does Success mean to an ESTP?

With a dominant function of Extraverted Sensing, and an auxiliary function of Introverted Thinking, people with the ESTP personality type have a heightened need for sensory experience and for tactile engagement with their physical environment. The ESTP is most comfortable when they can treat life as a big game in which they must be quick to use their skills in order to win. In such a game-playing scenario, the ESTP is most likely to be the winner, as no other personality type is as quick on their feet as the ESTP.

ESTPs have an amazingly ability to size up people in an instant and come up with an accurate ballpark understanding of where they are coming from. The ESTP cannot help using this skill, it is natural for them, but it brings them great satisfaction to be able to use this skill to enact some personal gain, or to "win the game." The ESTP is also strongly driven to tangibly interact with their immediate physical environment. This need manifests itself in many ways, most commonly as an attraction to sports or physical challenges, and as a desire to always be doing something. ESTPs are the great Doers. If you want to make something happen quickly, ask an ESTP. These inherent skills make the ESTP likely to find success professionally as salespeople or professional athletes. However, any career that capitalizes on their people skills or their ability to maneuver within their physical world AND gives them immediate feedback is likely to be a good fit for the ESTP.

The ESTP's need to be engaged with their immediate, external world makes success on a personal level more challenging. They feel happiest when they are outside of themselves, but personal success requires going within to get to know the self. However, once these needs are recognized, they are not mutually exclusive. The ESTP who feeds their constant drive for new sensory experiences as well as their need for real reflection upon those experiences and impressions will find a deeper level of personal satisfaction than the ESTP who allows his immediate needs for sensory experiences to yank him about.

However, even those ESTPs who have developed their ability to reflect on matters will always be connected at some base level to the strong desire for new experiences, and will get their "bread and butter" feelings of success from conquering challenges in their physical environment. ESTPs need to know they've got the goods, won the moment, done the job. Once given a task that intrigues them, or having discovered something new to be tried, very little will stop them from doing all they can to meet the challenge, and thereby achieve what they consider to be a personal success. Success to an ESTP is usually not measured in ongoing terms, but in transient moments of achievement, moments which bring the ESTP the needed feeling of having won the day.

Allowing Your ESTP Strengths to Flourish

As an ESTP, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type that aren't natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see your place in the world, and be more content with your role.

Nearly all ESTPs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:
 
  • A great talent for reading people and knowing "where they're at" by just watching their behavior and mannerisms.
  • The ability to draw upon an extremely detailed and ready knowledge of the physical world around them at a moment's notice.
  • A competitive flair which drives them to win out in difficult situations. ESTPs love to have the odds stacked against them, which makes them great troubleshooters or the type of salespeople who can cold canvass a winning deal from the hardest client.
  • A mental toughness which makes them extremely hard to beat. In any contest, the ESTP will almost always be the last man standing.
  • A strong, "get after it" mentality that causes them to get things done.
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    ESTPs who have developed their Introverted Thinking to the extent that they consider what their perceptions mean to them and discriminate carefully between the options available rather than simply flowing with the process of the moment, will enjoy these special gifts:
     
  • The ability to recognize when others are uncomfortable or in trouble and deal with their problems.
  • The ability to realize that there is value in meeting other people's needs in a real way.
  • An understanding that other people may have a different perspective on life, and that other perspectives may be useful and valid.
  • An ability to make the most of their winning capabilities over a long term.
  • A special talent for showing others how to make the most of situations. Such ESTPs can be extraordinary teachers of positive life skills.
  • A knack for showing not only how certain things can be done, but how they can be done in a far more valuable or efficient way. Such ESTPs are an asset to any company involved in manufacturing.
  • A skill for understanding the behavior of people and predicting patterns.
  • ESTPs can make very good detectives or analysts.
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    Potential Problem Areas

    With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. Without "bad", there would be no "good". Without "difficult", there would be no "easy". We value our strengths, but we often curse or simply ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must certainly exploit our strengths, but we must also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at the potential problem areas in our personality type.

    It is important to realize that type weaknesses are just the blind spots behind our stronger character traits, and that the more undesirable characteristics specific to a type are usually limited to those people whose type is heavily expressed, and then only if circumstances have combined to narrow or circumvent that person's natural development. So in reading what follows, it is worth remembering that, in describing these typical tendencies and the negative patterns of behavior which can flow from them, we are building an understanding for positive development. Every person is differently made, and we must always remember that these so called "weaknesses" are the unavoidable, understandable and natural characteristics of our type.

    Most of the weaker characteristics found in ESTPs result from Extraverted Sensing dominating their personality and co-opting the usefulness of their other functions, whilst some other difficulties stem directly from the ESTP's inability to use their less adapted functions of Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Intuition. Either singly or in combination, these ESTP traits cause most or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:

  • Can become morose or even antagonistic in situations offering little promise of advantage or the possibility to "do something."
  • May be manipulative, taking advantage of other people's weaknesses for their own gain.
  • May be unwilling or unable to plan anything in advance themselves, or to follow other's careful plans.
  • Can be overconfident of their own cunning or ability, ignoring problems which eventually catch up with them on their blind side.
  • May find it difficult or be actually unwilling to follow through where an ongoing commitment is expected.
  • In relationship situations may be overbearing, demanding and/or uncaring of the feelings of their partner.
  • When alone or in reduced circumstances may be subject to dark or morbid feelings about themselves.
  • May be unable to maintain employment for any length of time, losing credibility with potential employers or clients by job hopping.
  • May become so engrossed in challenging activities that they lose all sense of proportion, neglecting themselves and their relationships.
  • Without challenges of their own, may become focused on the behavior of others, particularly that of family or employees, insisting that they live up to what the ESTP sees as the proper code or level of accomplishment.
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    Explanation of Problems

    Because the ESTP is driven to experience the world through concrete sensation, their need for sensual experience combines with the possibilities of the moment to provide everything they feel is necessary to life. Using Introverted Thinking only to justify or enhance their sensual needs, the ESTP can easily flow with the world in a reckless manner, their own behavior mapped and justified by a ruling grid locked only to the objective action of the moment. Many of the difficulties described above flow from this common ESTP trait of attending only to the world and the people around them for the sake of satisfying their constant need for fresh experiences and new conquests. For the ESTP who lacks the support of a well adapted rational, judging function, the objective world remains an endlessly fascinating playground, where the constantly changing rules of the game often provide the only real codes of conduct they live by.

    Without a well developed Introverted Thinking function enabling the ESTP to reflect upon the consequences of their actions and desires, the feelings and needs of others can seem of little concern to them. Often, those who cannot match the ESTP round for round are considered persons of little consequence, or valued only as useful pawns in an endless game of one-upmanship where the gratification of the ESTPs needs is the only object. In addition to this, because Feeling is the ESTP's tertiary function, its judgments tend to be colored by the unconscious background, which means that it is often used negatively. In responding to the ESTP's sense driven thinking assessments, such a feeling function plays down empathy and enhances the maintenance of negative feelings about others, particularly when they do not "go along" with the ESTP's primary function driven ways and needs.

    Under such conditions the strongly expressing ESTP, whose auxiliary Introverted Thinking function serves only to make biased, supportive, "correct" judgments about their own behavior, will often "stand outside the circle", their biased judgments reducing others to a mere audience, expected to support the ESTPs notions without question. In relationships this can be a danger, for it means the ESTP will rarely accede to the feeling based demands of others, nor give credit to those ideas which arise from an intuitive outlook on life. Their behavior in this regard often borders on outright contempt or a sullen refusal to accept anything outside their own purview.

    Such strongly expressing ESTPs can sometimes find themselves without any truly close relationships, for their behavior often provides a strong signal to others, who sense that "here be dragons", and consequently offer as little as possible of their personal feelings or worldly knowledge as grist to the ESTPs one-upmanship mill. Under these circumstances, whilst the ESTP may have lots of acquaintances and partners in fun, there will be very few who will befriend them at any truly supportive, emotional level.

    Apart from the reasons given above, some narrowly expressing ESTPs can sometimes find themselves isolated because of the unusual things they believe about people and the world - particularly in regard to the reasons they believe certain things happen. The ESTP is extremely familiar with the workings of the immediate, rational world of the senses, but because their Intuition is a virtually unconscious function, their ideas about things outside their ken can quite often be extraordinarily quaint, superstitious or just downright bizarre, and their thinking can weave some amazing logic to support these beliefs. This rarely affects their day to day life, for these ideas and superstitions quite often support their keenness and abilities, but in a situation where truly intuitive or theoretical notions are considered relevant and important, the ESTP can find themself very much the odd man out.

    Of all the personality types, the strongly expressing ESTP can be the hardest to convince that their world view is not the only valid one; that it does not necessarily spring from the best and only way to be; that everyone else in the world who is "normal" does not approach life in the same way as the ESTP.

    Solutions

    To grow as an individual, the ESTP needs to focus on freeing their thinking from the control of Extraverted Sensing and allow themself the space to make careful, rational judgments. Not only about the immediate, external situation, but also about the ways in which it can be managed to create a more valuable, long term result. The ESTP's capacity to do this is innate; it hides just beneath the surface and takes only a few deliberate moments to allow it to work. All the ESTP needs to do is to recognize the difference between thinking with the moment, with the subject of their immediate sense impressions, and the thinking they do when nothing else grasps their attention. The ESTP needs to recognize that the second kind of thinking, this "alone with self" space, is full of potential for careful judgment of their actions and consideration of the best course for the future. Introverted Thinking is in truth the ESTP secret weapon. It is Introverted Thinking working in the background of their life which makes the ESTP such a potent personality. Bringing it into the foreground, allowing its power to be no longer a secret to them is the key to ESTP development.

    I want to offer the ESTP some specific suggestions and advice here, for bringing the value of introspection into focus it isn't just a matter of flipping a switch in the head. One of the reasons for this is that, when uncoupled from the fascinations of the outer world and reality, the ESTP's Introverted Thinking tends to get caught up in the negative judgments and images which flow from their feeling and intuitive functions; all too easily falling into a cloudy, uncertain world of anxieties and sinister implications. The ESTP's inner space needs to be cleared of this often childish and ill-informed miasma of negativity. So it is necessary to reassure yourself, to calmly and decisively insist upon quiet in your inner mind, and have faith that all concerns will be taken care of by the "adult of the household" (the mature version of Introverted Thinking.)

    Turning off the world and getting into your own space can be difficult at the beginning, but it provides the greatest rewards. For the ESTP doesn't need to learn how to think, they already do it extremely well - they just need to turn their thinking upon themselves. They need to measure and evaluate their usefulness, their actions, their relationships in ways that look for quality, and in ways to offer value to all things and people in their lives.

    Challenge yourself. Challenges are simple stuff for the ESTP, and all it really takes is a few moments of reflection each day. Ask yourself regularly: "What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Who benefits from it?" Ask these questions in every type of situation, and discover how the answers begin showing a path toward not only greater understanding of self and others, but also show ways to include others in a relationship with your whole self. Soon you will discover your feelings and intuitions coming on board with a more positive and inclusive force. Growing yourself soon becomes easy, because it just takes the simple routine of letting your innate power of considered thought work upon your own life, rather than only using it to support what's going on outside. Think about it.

    Living Happily in our World as an ESTP

    ESTPs usually have a strong group of supporters, both at work and socially. They are often popular, their appeal is magnetic and they attract those who would like to do the things they can do. The problems the ESTP has fitting into the world tend to be related to the flip side of this attractive and challenging exterior, for the deeper and more intimate side of people tends to avoid them, just as the ESTP tends to avoid the deeper connections. ESTPs have no trouble attracting lovers and admirers, they simply have trouble keeping them, for once relationships begin to demand constancy and deep, feeling based connections, the ESTP is often left wondering what the fuss was about. Their inadequacy in this regard can often make others feel they are lacking any real feelings or desire for commitment, whilst the truth is that they simply do not know the path to such things without a long and difficult learning period. They are more frightened of feelings rather than unable to feel, they are more timid of commitment rather than unable to commit. In relationships the ESTP needs reassurance, but all too often their needs are unspoken and interpreted as inabilities.

    Specific Suggestions:

    Ten Rules to Live By to Achieve ESTP Success

    1.     Feed Your Strengths! Give yourself every opportunity to show your innate skills. If you are not in a relationship or a job which allows this to happen, it might be time to discover ways to change this. Remember, your strengths derive from being able to deal with the world, with situations where getting things done, where opportunities to surmount difficulty exist.

    2.     Face Your Weaknesses. Try to be straight up with yourself. You have limitations others find as strengths. So what? You don't have to hide behind a curtain of fear just because you have difficulty with feelings or sorting out your inner perceptions. Allow yourself to be who you are and at the same time let others help you be more honest with your limitations.

    3.     Talk About Your Thoughts. Discussing your ideas and perceptions with others will help you to develop your separate, inner reality, make you a "real" person to them even without all that external activity. How well you use your auxiliary function is very important to your overall health and happiness.

    4.     Don't Be Afraid to Show Emotion. Your inferior functions want you to be still a child inside, and that makes you run, that makes you want to prove yourself even more. You don't have to prove anything to anyone in this regard. Everyone feel emotion and everyone is a little child inside. Find those people whose eyes tell you that you are not alone, and let them hear your child's voice.

    5.     Respect Your Need for Action. Understand that you need to be actively working with your environment to be "in the groove" with life. Don't chastise yourself for not being the sort to sit around and read a book or watch a movie. Choose a partner and companions who value active lifestyles, but remember to allow yourself time out to consider how their input into your life will change it. Don't just follow your nose - life is not an endless party or expedition.

    6.     Recognize the Differences in Others. Realize that everyone is different, not just a little different, but very different. Everyone has their place and value. You need to notice those values and places, places where you cannot easily fit. You can learn from these people, for they have gifts you can use, gifts they offer simply by being who they are. Try figuring out their psychological type for yourself and notice how certain types can lift you out of negative feelings just by being who they are.

    7.     It's OK to Get Out of your Comfort Zone. Understand that the only way to grow is to get outside of your comfort zone. If you're uncomfortable with an idea or situation because you're not sure how to act, that's good! That's an opportunity for growth.

    8.     Identify and Express Your Feelings. You may have a hard time figuring out exactly how you feel about someone that you're involved with. It's important that you do figure this out. Don't lead someone on with your ambivalence. If you determine that you value the person, tell them so every time you think of it. This is the best way to make them feel secure in your affections, and so to promote a long-lasting relationship.

    9.     Be Aware that You can Fail, and that it is OK. Not every mountain can be climbed, not every customer will be satisfied, no matter how hard you try or no matter what tricks you bring to bear. Getting beaten is an opportunity to reflect upon what is important, what really matters in life. Next time you will take up a challenge more worthy of your skills, and more valuable to others. You can be a champion, and it will be at your own game. Try to let it be a game of life, where everyone wins if you do.

    10. Assume the Best. Don't distress yourself with fear and dark imaginings. Expect the best, and the best will come.

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