In case you feel you are not perfect

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Mariner has mentioned a number of times that his father, a sociology professor, enjoyed collecting pop psychology tests and interpretations. He admitted that pop psychology was easily misinterpreted and provided insights that were entertaining conversation starters but quickly failed to measure a sound profile. In truth, he felt that general personality tests, even ones with serious scientific purpose, cause more trouble than knowledge gained. He had an especially poor opinion of the Myers-Briggs test that is widely used by businesses as a way to encourage compatibility and interaction, knowing that everyone is special but different.

Many readers have taken the Myers-Briggs test where they work. Test takers learn about all sixteen characteristics that make up humankind. When a new individual learns their four-letter description of themselves and has been enlightened as to how everyone is valuable but different, that individual should be sensitive to how others communicate and contribute to the common good – this is not what happens. Before the end of the day, the four-letter score becomes a condescending characteristic; it is a bat to belittle others – always implying incompetence. A typical conversation may be:

“So. What’s your type?”

“I’m an ISPF.” (artistic person)

“Oh, wow. Does your supervisor know? I mean, your job is awfully mechanical. I’m an ENTJ; that’s a corner score (the four scores at the four corners of the chart have special leadership talent).”

Another one mariner heard at one of his management training seminars:

“Never mind, you’re an ISFJ, you wouldn’t understand.”[1]

Nevertheless, the mariner’s father used his classes to try out various personality tests. He came to the conclusion that personality tests used for self improvement work much better if they aren’t public. The test should be introspective rather than comparative. He gave the following test to his classes many times. The questions are designed so that the question itself implies a standard to be approximated. Your score is determined by your deviation from the expectation of the question and, importantly, your own reaction to the deviation. The test triggers internal measurements which, if you reduce deviation, may help you be a happier and more confident person.

  1. What daily habit do you perform that makes you happy?
  2. What daily habit do you perform that clearly is one you would prefer not to do?
  3. On a typical day, do you have contact with at least three people you enjoy who are not in your family?
  4. With how many best friends do you still have regular contact from secondary school days?
  5. Each day, what important responsibility do you avoid?
  6. Do you participate in two civic/religious organizations each week?
  7. Do you meet with a group of eight active good friends each week?
  8. Do you have a job you enjoy?
  9. Do you spend one hour each week visiting non-family patients in a medical facility, retirement home or shut-in?
  10. Do you have a conversation with and touch or hug every family member each day?


  1. If applicable, do you have sufficient sex each week?
  2. Do you have physical activity that requires three aerobic hours each week?
  3. Do you take twenty minutes each day meditating or doing some restful activity?
  4. Do you think you’re fat?
  5. Have you had a physical examination in the last six months?
  6. Do you take a small trip every month to explore or participate in pleasurable activities?
  7. Have you taken at least a week’s vacation in the last six months or if retired, have you deliberately changed your daily routine to include new experiences and learning?
  8. Looking back on the questions so far, have you dismissed any question for any reason? Tell yourself why.
  9. Do you regularly play a musical instrument, sing in a choir or regularly attend music events or participate in performing arts?
  10. Has it been more than five years since you enrolled in an education, hobby, or trade skills class?


  1. Is debating with others more satisfying than being compatible?
  2. Do you feel others want to include you in your friend circle activities at every opportunity?
  3. Are you often skeptical of other people’s opinions and decisions?
  4. Do you receive two non-family calls or visits every day?
  5. Do you readily take charge even if not asked?
  6. Are you frequently slovenly when in public?
  7. Do others think you tend to talk incessantly? A clue is that others always end your conversations.
  8. Is it important for others to look up to you – or for you to look down on them?
  9. Do you watch the news on television every day or read a newspaper every day?
  10. Do you feel competent when you seek person-to-person contact with someone you’ve never met?

Having finished all the questions, return to each question. Without having a conversation with others, review your answers. More importantly, how did you feel about your answers? Note if you had a tinge of guilt, moral obligation, avoidance, or feeling a need to improve. The test is intended to help you improve your attitude, personal lifestyle, basic health, and your interpersonal qualities.

It seems an odd test but the mariner’s father said this test provoked more substantive discussion in class than any other – which he thought was a good sign that the test touched on self personality analysis in a non-threatening way.

Ancient Mariner

[1] See for a description of the 16 types.

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