At 49, this ENFJ had been passionate about causes as long as he could remember. During college, it was fighting for peace and the end of the Vietnam War. Early on in his career as a lawyer, Jon opened a small practice that focused only on civil rights cases. Though he did not choose a lucrative field, (at times a source of stress in his marriage) he nevertheless made a name for himself. He was a powerful and persuasive speaker and fought hard to win his cases. He was very charismatic, and those around him were drawn to his ideals and vision. He wanted very much to make positive changes in the world. It was no surprise then when he began his political career at the age of 35; rather, it seemed exactly where he would logically go next.
The same skills that made him successful in his legal work were an asset in Jonathan’s political career as well. His speeches were articulate, persuasive, and inspiring to those who agreed with his political vision. He had no problem attracting campaign volunteers and donations. Having a strong preference for people and organization, he was a natural leader, and could easily mobilize others into action. When conflicts occurred within his campaign staff, he relied on his excellent interpersonal skills in order to smooth things over and maintain harmony.
Jon’s strong preferences for Intuition and Feeling gave him vision and passion. But it was the preferences for Extraversion and Judging that drove him to focus on the external world and on taking decisive action. Having a preference for Judging, it was easy to decide how he felt about issues and what he wanted to change. He had well-developed skills for planning and organization, and was disciplined and hard-working. Though campaigning was stressful and hard work, he never felt more energized and alive.
Jonathan was brilliant at brainstorming. In fact he developed his best ideas in the middle of noisy, chaotic midnight meetings. In addition, he was particularly talented at building consensus within groups. Being keenly aware of people’s feelings and motivation, he was able to show how new ideas or strategies fit their needs. For the most part, he was very sincere in his efforts to build agreement and direction. But from time to time, the stress of circumstances led him to use his awareness of others in order to manipulate them and ensure a desired outcome.
The road to political success was not without its problems. His campaign strategists were not always inspired by his vision of things. They were often concerned with his lack of interest in what they saw as hard data. They complained that he was not always realistic in new measures that he proposed, and that he risked losing votes as well as his credibility. Though Jon knew that his strategists were very skillful, and eventually he would have to listen to their advice, he could never understand their emphasis on facts and figures. Life and people were about values and feelings, not logic and data. In the end, they would agree to disagree. He believed so fiercely in his vision that he often underestimated the importance of logic and data. In the beginning of his political career, this weakness had cost him more than one election. He learned the hard way that he would only succeed in politics if he was willing to heed their advice.
His political aspirations made for a challenging personal life as well. Though his family admired his passion and supported his efforts, it was not without personal cost. Jon was often overcommitted and overwhelmed. He had a hard time saying no to anyone, and as a result, he was spread too thin. Though he loved his family deeply, they never felt that they had enough time with him. This was a source of great conflict with his wife, who felt that he had too many interests and too many other people in his life. In addition, being more Introverted, his wife found the excessive number of social events associated with political life tiring and hard work. However, she loved him very much and recognized that her husband would be restless and dulled by any simpler life.
This visionary and dedicated politician seems to have found exactly the right place for himself in the world. There will always be conflicts between Jon’s idealism and his ability to maneuver others around to his point of view, and between his public role and his family commitments, but overall he seems to be walking a pretty productive path through these minefields. Discovering the meaning of life, and their special identity or purpose, so essential to NFs, is less about spending quiet time reading self-help books and more about experiencing life with others for the ENFJ. It’s not that ENFJs don’t enjoy reading and learning about new ideas. They do. But the real learning and inspiration simply does not occur until these ideas are shared with others. As Extraverts, ENFJs will spend much less time reflecting on their private thoughts, ideas, and feelings and more time sharing these with others. The ultimate value of new ideas for them is the opportunity to turn these ideas into action in the external world, from new ways to parent, to running charitable organizations. Their unique identity will be defined by the work they do, the families they raise, and the relationships they have with others.
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