Is your personality getting in the way of you getting health & fitness results?

Are you an Analyst, Diplomat, Sentinal or Explorer?  How can you use that insight to transform your habits?

I recently blogged about Gretchen Rubin’s 4 habit tendencies, but can we find similar insights that will help us change our habits by looking at personality types?

While I don’t buy in to the idea of personality “types”, the 100 billion neurons in our brains are not that easily labeled, they provide at least a framework to test assumptions against.

Personality Types

Theres an entourage of personality type tests from Myers Briggs to the 4 colours of personality but I’ll use a 16 personality test (http://www.16personalities.com), very similar to Myers Briggs, as a way of exploring the likely motivations and beliefs of 16 possible personalities.

These tests try to observe the commonalities in the ways people prefer to use their perception (views) and judgement (how they interpret those views).

The four main areas these tests look at are:

  1. Where you focus and generate energy: Extrovert (the external world) or Introvert (inside my head)
  2. How you view new information: Sensing (seeing is believing ) or Intuition (reading “between the lines”)
  3. How you make decisions: Thinking (based on logic) or Feeling (based on values and people)
  4. How you view the world: Judging (through order and labels) or Perceiving (staying open or flexible)

So assuming these personality types were accurate, how could we as coaches utilise these personality type tools to help our clients form better habits?

I’ve found writing this blog to be quite fascinating and tried to summarize the 16 personality types below with suggestions on how I would approach the motivations, expectations and likely tendencies of each type…

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1 Analysts

The first four are grouped as “Analysts”.  They all are “Intuitive” (read “between the lines”) and “Thinking” (logic).

These personalities seem to have a common need to affirm their superiority, control of relationships and understand the facts.

That creates a few common tactics with influencing these types of people:

  • Let them feel in control
  • Give them the facts and let them make their own choices
  • Give them a challenge “worthy” of their reputation

magnifying-glass

INTJ (the Architect)

INTJ’s is head-strong, logical and a strategic thinker, with a plan for everything.

Estimated population: <1%

Famous INTJ’s: Lance Armstrong,  Rudy Giuliani and “Gregory House” from House M.D.

Core belief: “I’m always right so you should listen”

Motivations: Evidence proof and logic, control, success

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Persuade them that this habit is an important part of the “big plan”
  • Use data to prove your main arguments.  Let them draw their own conclusions
  • They’re less likely to want to socialise so just be their technical support

INTP (the Logician)

INTJ’s are inventors and great problem solvers that are always asking questions

Estimated population: 3%

Famous INTJ’s: Albert Einstein, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Isaac Newton

Core belief: “Life is a constant experiment. Never stop asking questions”

Motivations: Learning, curiosity and uncovering patterns

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Use data and technology to enable them to conduct their own experiments – let me them discover their own insights about themselves
  • Explain the reasons behind your suggestions – Why does it make sense?
  • They’re less likely to want to socialise so just be their technical support

ENTJ (the Commander)

ENTJ’s are bold, strong-willed leaders that are always finding a way – or making one.

Estimated population: 3%

Famous INTJ’s: Steve Jobs, Margaret Thatcher, Al Gore, Jim Carrey

Core belief:  “I know best. It’s my way or the highway”

Motivations: Challenges, competition, comparisons

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Set ambitious goals with achievable milestones
  • Suggest openly competitive apps like Fitocracy or Strava so they can compete and benchmark themselves against others
  • Show how they can get an edge – how can you make them more efficient?
  • Let them feel like they’re in charge with choices vs prescriptions

ENTP (the Debater)

ENTP’s are the ultimate devil’s advocates

Estimated population: 3%

Famous INTJ’s:   Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and “Tyrion Lannister” from GOT

Core belief:  “Testing people is fun.”

Motivations: Winning, feeling that have got the upper hand, choice

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Keep them entertained because they resist routine
  • Play to their humour and be direct but don’t try to tell them what to do
  • Let them feel like they’re in charge by offering choices vs prescriptions

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 2 Diplomats

The second four are grouped as “Diplomats”.  They all are “Intuitive” (read “between the lines”) and “Feeling” (people-centric).

Maybe that’s why these personalities seem to have a common sense of duty to others and tendency to maintain harmony

That creates a few common tactics with influencing these types of people:

  • Connect their sense of duty to others to the habit they want to change
  • Be careful of criticism and instead focus on encouraging their gradual progress
  • Involve them in groups

mediator

INFJ (the Advocate)

INFJ’s are quiet tireless idealists.

Estimated population: <1%

Famous INTP’s: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi

Core Belief: “My purpose comes first. All other needs come second.”

Motivations: Purpose

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Refocus their attention on how this habit helps them achieve their purpose better
  • Get them to commit and then help them stick to that commitment
  • Ask them to lead a group to help others

INFP (the Mediator)

INFP’s are idealists that have a talent for self-expression.

Estimated population: 4%

Famous INFP’s: William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien

Beliefs: “Harmony is more important than being right”

Motivations: Self-expression, connecting with others.

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • How can they use their creative talents to deepen their connection with the habit the want to change
  • Keep them focused on positives and be careful of “constructive criticsim”
  • They’re less likely to want compete or track data

ENFJ (the Protagonist)

ENFJ’s are charismatic and inspiring leaders

Estimated population: 2%

Famous INFP’s: Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan

Core belief: “Believe the best in people and stand up for what’s right”

Motivations: Leadership, helping others

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Make the connection between sticking to a habit and being a role model
  • Can you make them team leader of a group?

ENFP (the Campaigner)

ENFP’s are charming, enthusiastic, creative and sociable free spirits

Estimated population: 7%

Famous INFP’s: Robert Downey, Jr., Robin Williams, Sandra Bullock

Core beliefs: “Everything is everything” and “Security and stability is boring”

Motivations: Leading, helping others

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Keep things new, fresh and interesting
  • Show how this habit helps them in other areas of their life

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3 Sentinals

The next four are grouped as “Sentinals”.

They all are “Sensing” (seeing is believing) and “Judging” (like order).

These personalities seem to have a common desire to be seen as role models, protect order and keep up appearances.

That creates a few common tactics with influencing these types of people:

  • Connect their desire to be a role model to the habit they want to change
  • Be more structured and systemised in your approach
  • They are scared of losing face in front of people they are about so be careful what you say in public

Note: This is by far the most “popular” personality group

rules-pillar-sentinal

ISTJ (the Logician)

ISTJ’s are practical, fact-minded and very reliable

Estimated population: 13%

Famous ISTJ’s: Natalie Portman, Angela Merkel and “Hermione Granger” from Harry Potter series

Core beliefs: “Rules are there for a reason” and “My word is my bond”

Motivations: Commitments, order, structure

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Create a comprehensive plan and don’t be afraid to suggest rules
  • Get them to clearly commit to it
  • Get them to track their habit (because very unlikely to cheat)

ISFJ (the Defender)

ISFJ’s are very dedicated, kind and warm protectors that are always ready to defend their loved ones.

Estimated population: 13%

Famous ISFJ’s: Queen Elizabeth II, Halle Berry and “Samwise Gamgee” from The Lord of the Rings

Core beliefs: “I will do anything to protect and support the people I care about” and “The needs of my loved ones come before mine”

Motivations: Caring for others, plans, structure

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Get them to make the connection that looking after themselves, is looking after others better
  • Get them to diarise in their calendar (have a system)
  • Peer them with people they can help and want support
  • Support them. They are their own biggest critics.

ESTJ (the Executive)

ESTJ’s are excellent administrators, meticulous and can manage anyone or anything

Estimated population: 11%

Famous ESTJ’s: John D. Rockefeller, Alec Baldwin, Judge Judy

Beliefs: “A place for everything and everything in its place”

Motivations: Challenges, plans, structure

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Encourage them to be role-models to their family and colleagues
  • Get them to diarise in their calendar (have a system)
  • Just give them direction and facts (they are pretty stubborn and opionated)
  • Help them with habits to de-stress

ESFJ (the Consul)

ESFJ’s are very social, popular people and always enjoy organising others

Estimated population: 12%

Famous ESFJ’s: Bill Clinton, Jennifer Garner, “Monica” from Friends

Core belief: “I love bringing people together”

Motivations: Social status and appearances

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Make a connection between health and looks, not just looks
  • Get them to organise a group around the habit they want to encourage
  • Avoid criticism and help them blend into the crowd (unless they’re leading it)

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4 Explorers

Finally “Explorers” are all are “Sensing” (seeing is believing) and “Perceiving” (open to new ideas).

They appear to have common tendencies to live in the moment and want to be involved in “hacking” their own habits.

That creates a few common tactics with influencing these types of people:

  • Be careful with too much structure…provide the frame, with facts, and let them experiment
  • Keep mixing it up to keep them interested
  • Try games or help them find a group

explorer-diver-astronaut

ISTP (the Virtuoso)

ISTP’s are bold, practical experimenters and makers

Estimated population: 5%

Famous ISTP’s: Clint Eastwood, Milla Jovovich and “Indiana Jones”

Beliefs: “I’m fascinated by how things work”

Motivations: Learning, experimenting

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Explain the anatomy of a habit to them
  • They’ll be interested in the bio-mechanics. Bodies are like a machine. Explain how it works in terms.
  • Present their lifestyle as a puzzle they can “hack”
  • Use data and technology to enable them to conduct their own experiments – let me them discover their own insights about themselves
  • Get them playing with small experiments rather than forcing them to think too big

ISFP (the Adventurer)

ISFP’s are flexible and charming artists, always ready to explore and experience something new.

Estimated population: ~7%

Core beliefs: “Don’t box me in” and  “Live the moment”

Motivations:  Living the now, staying independent, experimenting with design

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Encourage them to experiment with different tactics so long as they stick with the habit
  • Mix it up regularly to keep their attention
  • They may want something now but what do they want more?

ESTP (the Entrepreneur)

ESTP’s are smart, energetic and very perceptive people, who truly enjoy living on the edge.

Estimated population: 4%

Famous ESTP’s: Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Eddie Murphy

Beliefs: “Doing is more important than thinking” and “Rules were made to be broken”

Motivations:  Breaking rules, exploring

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Gamify their habits and keep it fun
  • Mix it up regularly to keep their attention because they resist too much structure
  • Present habits as a way of them achieving more with less
  • Try more alternative options because they pride themselves on being early adopters

ESFP (the Entertainer)

ESFP’s are spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic people – life is never boring around them.

Estimated population: ~12%

Famous ESTP’s: Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Oliver

Core beliefs: “Enjoy the moment and have fun”

Motivations:  Living the now, staying independent

Suggestions for health & fitness coaches:

  • Keep it social and keep it fun
  • Don’t go to deep or serious or long term
  • Data won’t be motivating
  • Focus is friends, create the link with FOMO

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I’ve found the easiest way to make sense of these personality types is to zone in on the core beliefs.  That will help you understand the right approach to take.

analyst, diplomat, sentinal or explorer

I think the four top level categories (analysts, diplomats, sentinals and explorers) more helpful to identify the overall motivations of people.  Analysts want support to stay in control, diplomats want support to help them help others, sentinals want support to understand the rules and explorers want support to keep things fresh and interesting.

This actually links very closely to Gretchen Rubin’s habit tendencies assuming you can trust personality typing…

Analysts are more likely to be rebels or questioners with their own tendencies to “read between the lines” and apply cool logic to situations.

Diplomats are more likely to be upholders or obligers with a tendency to be people-centric and look into deeper meanings behind things.

Sentinals (the biggest group) are more likely to be upholders or obligers with a tendency to react better to order and facts.

Explorers are more likely to be rebels or questioners (the second biggest group) with a tendency to be more open to new ideas.

To go one step further, according to 16 personalites (where I have sourced the approximate percentages), 66% of people focus on tangible rather than abstract new information (facts that they can relate to) and 59% of people are people centric vs logic centric.

One great thing about investigating personalities is that you realize our different world views and motivations. As coaches we need to empathise and communicate with others on their terms because there’s a good chance that what’s worked for you, may not work for your clients, friends and family.

Enjoy the challenge and keep learning.

PS: I found this article challenging and actually quite complicated to draw conclusions so tell me… How do you think your personality impact your motivations?

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