Know The Enemy And Know Yourself

and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) For all the historical, technological, and Bitcoin-related readings that I do, trying to give context to our endlessly fascinating and complex world, I also enjoy learning about my own internal machinations.i When I first encounter someone new, either online or IRL, they’re an unknown quantity to me. Their reputation may precede them, but that doesn’t give away much in terms of what makes them tick. I don’t know their backgrounds, their goals, and their fears, and likewise, they don’t know me. As social interactions are an inevitable aspect of our time on this planet, knowing how we work internally helps us to better navigate the world, allowing us to articulate what we want so that we can more readily obtain it, as well as working to work to our strengths and improving upon our weaknesses.

Personality tests are useful tools towards achieving these objective.ii As both have been around for a while, perhaps you’ve tried the Myers-Briggs testiii or the Enneagram test.iv A newer one that seems to be popularv is called StrengthsFinder.vi Based on a 35-minute online test where you select an answer on a 5-point scale between two seemingly unconnected priorities or preferences, your top 5 strengths are calculated.

In order of strongest to weakest, with highlights, my Strength Themes are:

1. Strategic:

By nature, you characteristically find the right words to express whatever you are thinking. You offer explanations, discuss ideas, give examples, or share stories.vii You effectively use the spoken word. Instinctively, you are innovative, inventive, original, and resourceful. Your mind allows you to venture beyond the commonplace, the familiar, or the obvious. First, you think of alternatives. Then you choose the best option. It’s very likely that you can reconfigure factual information or data in ways that reveal trends, raise issues, identify opportunities, or offer solutions. You bring an added dimension to discussions. You make sense out of seemingly unrelated information. You are likely to generate multiple action plans before you choose the best one. Chances are good that you normally find just the right words at the right moment to express whatever you are thinking and feeling. Many people are likely to appreciate your fine speaking abilities.viii You can present your ideas in a reasonable, sequential, and methodical way. Moreover, you generate lots of options for others to consider. Driven by your talents, you are much more innovative when you have ample time to process ideas. As long as you are not pressured to think fast, you can generate many original proposals, alternatives, or tactics for the coming months, years, or decades.

2. Ideation:

Instinctively, you have a rich vocabulary upon which to draw. The words you choose often expand and challenge your listeners’ or readers’ thinking.ix It’s very likely that you usually have more innovative ideas or original suggestions than others in the group. You are delighted to participate in forums where you can present your creative concepts.x Others are likely to share your desire to improve things. This explains why many individuals welcome your suggestions. Driven by your talents, you usually find novel and fresh ways to do things. People turn to you when they find themselves struggling to generate ideas. By nature, you spontaneously tune in to what others think of you as a person and as a professional. As a result, you intentionally commit to memory complicated and intricate words as well as specialized terminology. You use language to your advantage in situations when you desire to influence, confront, make demands of, or issue orders to people.xi Your vocabulary allows you to speak with authority. Because of your strengths, you typically decide to move at an even and carefully measured tempo. You methodically take apart mechanisms, ideas, plans, processes, problems, or data. You resist being pressured to draw conclusions before you have systematically studied the basic components. To rush your thinking is foolhardy, in your opinion.

3. Context:

By nature, you periodically expand your knowledge base to deepen your expertise about the historical rivalries or the global influences that have ignited major wars. Driven by your talents, you are devoted to the studying the past. This is one way you make sense of the present. It probably explains why you can predict how people will behave, how problems will be solved, how decisions will be made, or how events will unfold.xii Chances are good that you spontaneously pick up books and publications that focus on past events and the people involved in them.xiii  Your desire to read about days gone by causes you to gather important information that individuals who are more interested in the present or the future typically overlook. You can be a valuable resource for these people. Because of your strengths, you create a vision of the future by unraveling what happened in the past.xiv You strive to understand the what, when, who, where, how, and why of events. You are determined to create a framework of facts so you can put things in perspective. Instinctively, you really like to read about past events and the key people involved. By accumulating lots of knowledge regarding days gone by, you regularly anticipate the opportunities and pitfalls you are apt to face in the coming months, years, or decades. 

4. Restorative:

Because of your strengths, you generally rely on your ability to reason when you are making decisions about what you could do better personally or professionally. Instinctively, you are sometimes particularly aware of what you could or should do better. Perhaps you invest a lot of time, effort, and energy in overcoming your limitations. Maybe you have decided to let your natural abilities — your talents — grow on their own, while you attend to problem areas. Chances are good that you usually have ideas for ridding the environment of any temptations that make it easy for people to take things that are not rightfully theirs.xv You pinpoint areas where security upgrades need to be implemented to protect the organization’s resources.xvi You also figure out how to protect people from themselves. By nature, you might critique your results to decide what you need to do better in the future. When you are planning for the future, you sometimes spend much more time thinking about your limitations than your talents. Driven by your talents, you realize that you are quite capable of accomplishing more than you have. This awareness probably spurs you to make improvements, corrections, or upgrades. 

5. Command:

Driven by your talents, you urge people to attain their goals by pressing ahead without stopping. Some people feel threatened by your forceful messages.xvii You probably use this technique with individuals who are slow to start or who are inclined to quit before the work is finished. Chances are good that you routinely gamble on whether to engage outsiders or newcomers in conversations. When you take your chances and succeed, you probably gain confidence. You usually become more assertive when you have to make inquiries, give directions, or issue orders to your new acquaintances. Instinctively, you help people do more and better work by issuing demands. You tell them it is unacceptable to simply meet minimum requirements. You want to see proof they are accomplishing what you told them to do. By nature, you may help some individuals be stronger and tougher in the face of life’s challenges, difficulties, or adversities. It’s very likely that you may encourage people by accepting them just as they are. Maybe you thrive in environments where you are surrounded by people from different cultures or backgrounds. Sometimes you actively seek the company of people who speak a foreign language, wear native attire, or practice their culture’s customs.xviii 

So that’s a bit more about me. Feel free to leave your profiles and results in the comments section. And now I’ll leave you with Aldous Huxley:

If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion.

___ ___ ___

  1. Do you think that the “business” and “self-improvement” sections of the book store are malicious garbage sold to the retarded masses? Do you think personality tests are a waste of time and money? Do you think the whole “know yourself” shtick is an industrialized chumpatron to trick people into complacency and subservience because, as Goethe observed, that “never by reflection, but only by doing is self-knowledge possible to one?” Well fuck you I dun wanna hear it. I find this shit interesting. []
  2. Of course, personality tests are far from the only tool for understanding how and why we act the way we do. Literature, philosophy, and history are also essential in understanding the human condition in the context of its time and place. []
  3. I’m an INTP: “The Thinker” []
  4. I’m a 5: “The Investigator” []
  5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 is the #1 Best Seller in the Motivation and Self-Improvement section on Amazon. []
  6. If you’re interested, the book is C$30 at Chapters or $20 on Amazon but only US$14 for the eBook on Gallup’s website. If you go for the eBook, which I did, they’ll e-mail you the access code so you can take the online test. []
  7. Exhibit A: Contravex. []
  8. You should see me on stage. []
  9. See Exhibit A. []
  10. See IRC. []
  11. This is actually quite fun. []
  12. Prediction: La Serenissima will win while large, centralized nation states will lose. []
  13. Currently reading: Martin & Romano’s Venice Reconsidered, Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Shakespeare’s Othello, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and The Torah: A Modern Commentary. Also, starting later this month, I’m starting a 12-month experiment that will eliminate any books or movies produced or published before 1986. Gotta balance out that post-birth bias! []
  14. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” []
  15. Bitcoin and taxation, anyone? []
  16. See Mycelium’s Entropy USB dongle and high entropy paper wallets. []
  17. See Litecoiners, Fiaters, and general know-it-alls. []
  18. Which is entirely why I enjoy #bitcoin-assets so much. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan and enlightened corners of the globe. []

2 thoughts on “Know The Enemy And Know Yourself

  1. […] where we left off last time, this useful and thorough description of the Myers Briggs INTP profile comes to us from Paul […]

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