ESTJ personal growth

Personal Growth for an ESTJ

What does Success mean to an ESTJ?

People with the ESTJ personality type have a high value for social order and structure. Throughout his or her life, the ESTJ develops a set of judgement standards that they use to order events and impressions that exist in the world. These standards are essentially social principles. The ESTJ believes very strongly in their principles, and strongly disapproves of any violation. The ESTJ believes that their principles define appropriate behavior and attitudes, and therefore should be followed unconditionally. Just as they naturally create rules, and are therefore natural leaders, ESTJs also believe in following existing social rules. They often lead, but can follow easily if they trust the authority of the system they're following. The ESTJ can be quite harsh about the violation of a principle. It is more important to the ESTJ that the principle is honored than that they consider the position or feelings of the individual who transgressed against the principle. Their harshness of manner may damage personal relationships, until the ESTJ incorporates standards for behavior within personal relationships into their system of social rules. The ESTJ truly enjoys being around other people, and wants to promote traditional relationships. An ESTJ may feel successful if they are able to live their lives within their defined system of principles, but their true and lasting success will come from the ability to create and sustain good and lasting principles, and thus to address all situations in their life adequately and consistently.

Allowing your ESTJ strengths to flourish

As an ESTJ, 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 ESTJs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:

They believe strongly in doing their duty, and perform out of a sense of duty, rather than an expectation of getting something in return. They usually have an extremely good memory for details. They're natural leaders. They are good strategists and game players. They are generally law-abiding and hard working. They are Loyal -- to their family, friends, country, and company.

ESTJs who have developed their Introverted Sensing to the extent that they regularly use their tremendous inner stores of data when forming their principles for behavior enjoy these special gifts:

They understand and create effective and fair principles that are unconditional, and in so doing, they perform a great social service. They may make outstanding Judges and Politicians. They live their life in a highly ethical and moral manner. They are great strategists, and may make great military commanders. They're able to create systems for behavior to meet all of the needs that they encounter in life. In such a way, they are satisfied because their world is organized in a principle-centric way that is effective and enduring.

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 and ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at our personality type's potential problem areas.

Most of the weaker characteristics that are found in ESTJs are due to Extraverted Thinking taking over the personality to the extent that other functions work only to serve Extraverted Thinking's agenda. In such cases, an ESTJ may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:

  • May be unaware or uncaring of how they come across to others.
  • May deliberately bully people into behaving a certain way (with the justification that they're enforcing a principle.)
  • May quickly dismiss input from others without really considering it.
  • May have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings to others.
  • Maybe have difficulty understanding the importance of considering people's feelings, and trying to meet their emotional needs.
  • May hold grudges, and have difficulty forgiving people.
  • May have an intense and quick temper.
  • May be highly controlling towards others.
  • May be unable to place value on individual life.
  • May be unable to see the long-term impact of their behavior.

Explanation of problems

Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed to the common problem of Extraverted Thinking overtaking the ESTJ personality to the point that all other personality functions exist only to serve Thinking's needs. A healthy and successful personality needs to have a good balance between its dominant and auxiliary functions. For an ESTJ, dominant Extraverted Thinking needs to be well-supported by the auxiliary Introverted Sensing function. If Introverted Sensing exists only to support the agenda of Extraverted Thinking, then neither function is living up to its potential, and the subject ESTJ is not reaching their potential in their job or their personal relationships.

In the case where auxilary Sensing is underused, the ESTJ will live entirely within the boundaries of their existing principles. They will hold up their own set of principles as an inalienable representation of the Right Thing To Do, and apply everything they encounter in life to this principle system. If they perceive behavior that does not fit into their set of principles, they will ruthlessly judge it and shut down any alternative view of the violation. In being so tied to their Extraverted Thinking process, they lose the ability to truly consider incoming information, and therefore lose the ability to synergize with other people and solve problems in an effective way. Perhaps most importantly, the ESTJ loses the ability to connect with their own Self. They become out of touch with their own personal needs, and dissociated from their core Self. The net effect of these happenings is an ESTJ leader who expects absolute adherence to his or her demands; who lacks the ability to see long-range implications associated with these demands; who is unwilling to consider alternate solutions or plans; and who is dissociated from any personal priorities or value system. Such a leader is unlikely to be effective and successful in their job or personal life, although are likely unaware of the reasons for their problems.

It is quite common for people to allow their dominant function to overrule their personality. In the case of the Extraverted Thinker, allowing Thinking to dominate without counter-balance can have great impact on the social interactions of the ESTJ. Female ESTJs may be viewed as overbearing, controlling, or masculine, and may not be as readily accepted by social standards. This may cause low self- esteem in the female ESTJ. Male ESTJs are somewhat worse off, because social stereotypes may encourage them that they are entitled to be domineering. They may have no interest in growing beyond their limited outlook.

Extraverted Thinking is a personality function that creates structure by identifying and adhering to logical principles. It is a social form of judgement, in that it is defined by the external world, rather than by an inner sense of right and wrong. The true strength of Extraverted Thinking is its highly ethical nature. It is not swayed by individual appeals -- it believes wholeheartedly in the merit of the Principle. If the Principle exists, then it should be followed. Once the Extraverted Thinking type has identified the principle, it is their business to enforce that principle. The Extraverted Thinker does not expect anything back for living by that principle. It expects that the principle should be respected without condition. In other words, the ESTJ believes that you should do what's right because it is what's right, rather than doing what's right because you want something in return. In this ideal sense, Extraverted Thinking judgement is the cornerstone of laws and legal systems. Extraverted Thinking has much to offer our society, in its purety of intention.

Introverted Sensing, the auxiliary function of the ESTJ, is the means of observing data and storing it for future reference. Introverted Sensing is capable of considering and storing huge amounts of data. When this data is fed into the dominant Thinking function, the personality uses real data to form principles and enforce structure upon the world. In the case where the ESTJ has an overly-dominant Thinking function, the importance of the auxilliary Sensing function is reduced. Data cannot be seen outside of its context within a principle. The ESTJ will not be able to see beyond the fact that a principle has been violated. They will be unable to see the data objectively.


An ESTJ who is interested in coming into his or her own potential should consciously try to suspend judgement until all of the facts are known. An effective ESTJ is not afraid to redefine principles when information cannot be understood or dealt with effectively within their known systems. Practicing this sort of behavior will help auxilary Introverted Sensation to flourish, and thereby allow the entire personality to become a more effective and positive force.

For example, an ESTJ friend recently told me that he was convinced that his mother's cleaning lady was a con-artist. I asked him why he thought so, and he said "because she takes money and does absolutely nothing." Apparently the house was not being cleaned to his standards. He believed that the cleaning lady was paid to do a certain job, and he expected that it would be completed to a certain standard for a certain fee. This was his principle. She violated that principle by not doing the job well enough. The fact that she took money for a job that she didn't do was nothing less than criminal behavior to him. When I asked him if the cleaning lady had been given directions on what specifically to clean, he said he didn't know, but that she was a cleaning lady so she should know what to do (another principle.) We soon discovered that the cleaning lady was paid about half the going rate for her job. When I explored this situation a bit futher (out of concern for my friend's mother) I discovered that the cleaning lady had almost no guidance on what to clean, but that she was busy the entire time that she hired, and that she was perhaps not the cleanest of cleaning ladies. When she was given more direction, she performed to a better standard. My assertion that the cleaning lady kept busy the whole time that she was hired was flatly rejected by my ESTJ friend. He would not consider that piece of information, nor would he consider the fact that she was paid much less than the standard rate for cleaning ladies. Within his principle system, she was a con-artist, and he did not consider data that might offer an alternate explanation.

Rather than simply rejecting the new information that became available, my ESTJ friend could have altered his principles slightly to allow for differences in personal capabilities and results amongst individuals, and to allow for the fact that the cleaning lady getting a lower rate of pay did offset the lower quality of service at some level. Using the new data (made available by Introverted Sensing) to tweak and redefine his principles would allow him to create a more effective system of principles that would be better able to handle similar future challenges.

In general, developing Introverted Sensing is the ESTJ's key to optimizing the effectiveness and resiliency of their principles. It will also improve their general balance of character, and therefore open the door to growth within other aspects of their psyche.

Living Happily in our World as an ESTJ

Some ESTJs have difficulty fitting into our society. Their problems are often associated with being controlling of others, having unreasonable expectations for others' behaviors, failing to consider others' needs and ideas, and generally coming across too strongly. These issues stem primarily from the common ESTJ habit of using Extraverted Thinking in a mode in which it quickly and automatically applies existing principles against the external world, rather than taking the time to weigh their inner data against their principles for behavior. ESTJs need to be able to use their rich store of internal data to feed their principles. Insisting on adherence to steadfast principles while ignoring factual information is a recipe for trouble, such as we have seen with various dictatorships throughout history. In order to flourish in a healthy way, the ESTJ has to recognize the importance of their inner data stores, and needs to use all available data to form good principles. In order to accomplish this, the ESTJ needs to recognize the importance of Introversion, and develop the use of their highest introverted function, Introverted Sensing.

Specific suggestions:

Ten rules to live by to achieve ESTJ success

  1. Feed your strengths! You have been given the great ability to create logical, ethical principles that transcend personal experience. Allow these principles to be as good as they can be by creating them with consideration for all available data.
  2. Face your weaknesses! See your weaknesses for what they are, and seek to overcome them. Especially, resist the tendency to judge too quickly, and remember the importance of considering other people's feelings.
  3. Talk through the facts. or write them down. You need to step through the facts in order to define good principles to live by. Verbalizing them or putting them down on paper may be a valuable tool for you.
  4. Take in everything. Don't dismiss ideas prematurely because you think you already know the answer. Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
  5. When you get angry, you lose. Your passion for your principles is admirable, but becomes destructive when you fall into the "Anger Trap." Remember that Anger is destructive to personal relationships, and can be extremely hurtful to others. Work through your anger before you unleash it upon others. Disagreements and disappointments can only be handled effectively in a non-personal and dispassionate manner.
  6. Be yourself in relationships. Don't expect yourself to be a "touchy-feely" or "warm fuzzy" person. Realize that your most ardent bonds start with the head, rather than the heart. You expect your actions to speak for themselves to your loved ones. This may not be enough for some. Be aware of other's emotional needs, and express your genuine love and respect for them in terms that are real to YOU. Be yourself.
  7. Be accountable for yourself. Don't blame the problems in your life on other people. Look inwardly for solutions. No one has more control over your life than you have.
  8. Be humble. Judge yourself at least as harshly as you judge others.
  9. Resist the urge to control others. You can't force others to adhere to your ways of thinking. You may think that you know what's best for others, but you really only know how they can best act according to your ideas of what is right. Just as you are entitled to live as you see fit, so are they. Instead of judging and controlling others, focus on using your judgement to create better impartial principles.
  10. Spend some time alone. Encourage the development of your introverted side. You'll find many tangible benefits to becoming a more well-rounded person.

More resources