Training for a physically demanding athletic competition. Taking on a complex new project at school or work. Seeing your family through a tough financial situation. Challenges, although they can bring out the best in us, are not always welcomed. While many people go out of their way to challenge themselves on a regular basis, others may avoid challenges when possible, viewing them as impediments on the path to their goals.
Every personality type is capable of conquering challenges, but we wanted to find out which types truly relish this experience.
We asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You enjoy tackling difficult challenges.” A strong majority (79%) agreed, indicating that, for the most part, our community does not shy away from the obstacles in their lives. The personality aspects that determine our Strategies – Mind and Identity – proved to play the biggest role in how enthusiastic we are about taking on tough challenges.
Which personalities love a good challenge? Let’s find out.
Analysts (85% agreeing)
Of the four Roles, Analysts were the ones who most enjoyed a challenge. Thinking and Intuitive personality types were both more likely than their Feeling and Observant counterparts to agree with our statement.
For Analysts, it’s just natural to apply the cool logic of their Thinking trait to any obstacle that might come their way, and their Intuitive trait drives them to keep pushing for more innovative and effective methods and solutions. For many Analysts, solving problems that would stymie others is their reason for being. In the absence of such difficulties, it can be easy for them to lose interest in the mundane affairs of day-to-day life.
Assertive Commanders (ENTJ-A), the personality type that agreed with our statement at the highest rate (96%), are an excellent example of this attitude. Commanders live to challenge not only themselves, but also the people around them, and they have both the vision and the leadership skills to back up their bold aspirations. The stronger their Assertiveness, the more confident they are in their ability to defeat challenges, push limits, and achieve their goals – and the more they enjoy it.
Diplomats and Sentinels (78% each)
Diplomats and Sentinels may not be as drawn to difficulty for difficulty’s sake as Analysts are, but they each have their own reasons for appreciating a challenge.
Diplomats are generally idealistic and empathetic, thanks to their Feeling personality trait. When they encounter conflicts or situations where their personal values are in jeopardy, their impulse is to bring people together to achieve harmony and equality – something that can be extremely challenging but gives them a sense of purpose that might otherwise be lacking. Like Analysts, Intuitive Diplomats also enjoy the creativity involved in coming up with the right solution.
With their core Judging personality trait, Sentinels have a strong preference for structure, organization, and predictability. They have the practical know-how to bring order to challenging, chaotic environments and the discipline to keep things running smoothly. In their view, tackling tough challenges (especially in the name of the greater good) is not just enjoyable and rewarding, but also a serious responsibility.
When it comes to taking on challenges, Explorers’ combination of Observant and Prospecting personality traits can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Their pragmatic approach and quick thinking make them well-equipped to handle problems – including emergencies and crises – as they arise, and they often thrive in such situations.
But many Explorers don’t necessarily enjoy the difficulties themselves, which can look like hard work. Especially if it appears that a challenge will require a long-term commitment to resolve, Explorers may prefer to avoid it and take an easier, faster route to their end goals.
Turbulent Adventurers (ISFP-T) were the least likely of all personality types to agree with our statement (51%). Adventurers like to explore and test boundaries, which can make them creative, effective problem-solvers. But in order to really enjoy challenges, they often need to be able to approach them on their own terms. They may try to resist challenges that restrict them with factors like hard-and-fast rules, long-term planning, or arduous tasks. Turbulent Adventurers, who are more vulnerable to stress and doubt, are especially likely to feel frustrated or overwhelmed by difficult challenges.
People Mastery (90% agreeing)
The most notable gaps in this study were between the Mind and Identity traits that determine our personality Strategies. Extraverts were more likely than Introverts to say they enjoy tackling difficult challenges (84% vs. 71%, respectively), and Assertive types were more likely than Turbulent types to agree (87% vs. 71%).
As Extraverted, Assertive personalities, People Masters are confident in their abilities and eager to demonstrate them to others. Their communication skills are a key strength, and they have no qualms about pulling in others to help them with a problem if need be. People Masters may find even defeat to be less unpleasant than the prospect of having no worthy challenges to face.
Confident Individualism (83%)
Like People Masters, Confident Individualists are quite secure in their ability not just to succeed at significant challenges, but also to enjoy them. These Assertive personalities, however, prefer to find their own, more private ways of proving their capabilities, at least to themselves, if not to others.
Their Introversion accounts for their slightly lower agreement. If a challenge is large or complex enough that they have to work with others to conquer it, Confident Individualists will still get the job done, but they probably won’t enjoy the process as much.
Social Engagement (79%)
Not far behind Confident Individualists were Social Engagers. These Turbulent personalities worry more than Assertive types and have stronger emotional reactions, which can sometimes make challenges feel less enjoyable. They might especially fear the agony of a public failure.
Still, as Extraverts, they see plenty of appeal in a tough challenge – the chance to collaborate and develop relationships with others, the prospect of victory, and the potential for a rise in social status – that may be too much to resist.
Constant Improvement (66%)
Despite agreeing in a majority, Constant Improvers were significantly less likely than the other three Strategies to say they enjoy tackling difficult challenges, showing the influence of their Introverted and Turbulent personality traits.
Their continual focus on improvement and personal growth may make Constant Improvers uniquely positioned to overcome a particular problem, but wavering self-esteem and a hesitance to reach out and ask others for help can become barriers to success. The stress and worry that many Constant Improvers experience while working on a challenge may outweigh the eventual happiness and satisfaction of solving it. Still, two-thirds did indicate that they like facing hard challenges.
Although this study demonstrated that a majority of all personality types are enthusiastic about tackling difficult challenges, there are clearly some who really do live for these situations, like Analysts and People Masters. Many of these individuals intentionally seek out challenges and find life dull and intolerable without them.
Those personalities who tend to find difficult challenges less appealing, like Explorers and Constant Improvers, may be more interested in the results than the process. Some Explorers may take the path of least resistance in order to resolve a challenge quickly and move on to the next opportunity, while some Introverts and Turbulent types may be pleased to achieve success but simply find the process too stressful and exhausting to genuinely enjoy it.
Which is better: to embrace a challenge, or to avoid it? Our personalities may dictate the answer as much as our circumstances do. Share your thoughts in the comments below.