Welcome back to the The Mastermind Toolkit series, part 3. If you missed the previous posts you can check out part 1 here, part 2.0 here, and part 2.5 here. As always, I would love to know your thoughts on this, and any other, blog post. It also seems appropriate to remind our beloved readers that my views are theoretical in nature, though I do research. In his book, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, author and MIT lecturer, Peter Senge, defines theory as follows: “A fundamental set of propositions about how the world works, which has been subjected to repeated tests and in which we have gained some confidence.” While I’m not a trained psychologist, nor am I certified to administer any type of personality test, as a former business analyst and management consultant, I have been exposed to a broad range of ideas and various systems of management theory. It is this body of expertise that I have relied on to form my theories regarding mastering the INTJ mastermind. If you feel that I’m waaaay off base in regard to the ideas presented here, please sound off in the comments. You can share love in the comments too. As always, these ideas are not fully developed, they are really nothing more than theory . . . INTJ Mastermind Theory! Now let’s get to the good stuff!
In article 2.5 of this series, we discussed the three disciplines, or practices, of the INTJ mastermind.
- An INTJ mastermind practices mastery of thinking
- An INTJ mastermind practices mastery of systemization
- An INTJ mastermind practices mastery of Uchi-soto (The ability to be both an insider and an outsider at the same time).
Today, we are going to dig deeper into these practices and discuss a few tools that you can use to grow and reach your full mastermind potential.
The Mastermind Toolkit
While we will be discussing the different tools that can be utilized to achieve mastermind mastery, let’s start with this important reminder: for any self-improvement tool to be effective, you have to begin at the beginning. Knowing who you are, and understanding the individual aspects of your cognitive style, will enable you to determine which tools will be of most benefit to you. As Jane Austen writes in Mansfield Park, “We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” Self-knowledge is that foundation that supports any self-actualization effort, because when you know who you are and what you want, then you are better able to identify the tools and practices that will help you hold your mastermind focus, so that you can overcome the inevitable challenges that arise as you move toward your goals.
Tool one: Master Your Thinking by . . . Thinking!
Mastering your thinking is the first step in becoming a mastermind. It may also be one of the most difficult things to do. If you are interested in self-actualization, as many INTJs are, I’m sure you’ve heard of metacognition, or analyzing your thinking patterns. Metacognition first became popular in the early 2000s, the result of work by Stanford researcher, John Flavell, who discovered that what he first called meta-memory (and later changed to metacognition), improves learning outcomes in students. Metacognition is often recommended as an effective strategy in management literature. However, many management theorists go no further than recommending metacognition. Yet, cognitive science did not stop with thinking about thinking. It has been over 40 years since Flavell first introduced the concept of meta-memory. In that time, cognitive science has grown as a field, with many others adding their research insights to the study of the human mind. With metacognition as a basis, additional strategies have been identified for improving the effectiveness of cognitive development. For the INTJ (and other cognitive styles), these insights can be used as a reference in developing our own mastermind skills.
The Power of the Intangible
In 1997, marketing guru Harry Beckwith published a book called, Selling the Invisible. At the time, it was revolutionary — a harbinger of a future where platforms like WordPress, Instagram, Twitter, and others, would allow people to share their ideas, recommendations, and/or self-actualization strategies as though they were tangible products. Of course, self-help books have always been the ultimate proof of the power of the intangible, but Beckwith’s book was the first hint that the invisible, or the intangible, could power a vast marketplace. It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking that when we talk about tools, we are talking about something tangible, like a wrench, or a crowbar, or a book. Yet, when it comes to mastering thinking, physical tools aren’t as helpful as mental ones. Many in cognitive science bemoan the modern day practice of off-loading once common memory practices to supplemental apps because using our memory strengthens memory (and, presumably, thinking strengthens thinking).
In addition to using metacognition as a development tool to hone thinking, INTJs can use other forms of metacognition to identify, analyze, and manage INTJ cognition.
Metacognitive Knowledge Metacognitive Knowledge focuses on what you know about how cognition works. This is why a tool like MBTI can be so effective as part of a personal development strategy. When you know that you are an INTJ, you understand that the Ni (your data collection tool and possibilities generator), and the Te, form the foundation of your choices and decision-making (Extraverted thinking allows you to categorize the data you’ve collected, analyze it against other external models, and identify effective solutions).
Use it: Any time you think about strategies or facts that will make you more effective, and or productive, you are using metacognitive knowledge. An example from Metacognition: An Overview by Jennifer A. Livingston is, “you may be aware that your study session will be more productive if you work in the quiet library rather than at home where there are many distractions.” Identifying this type of knowledge utilizes metacognitive knowledge.
Metacognitive Experience – Thinking does not occur in a vacuum, unrelated to anything else in your life. Perhaps more than any other aspect of your being, your brain determines who you are. Metacognitive Experience allows you to “externalize” or separate yourself from your thinking, enabling you to recognize factors that impact your cognition.
Use it: To access metacognitive experience, you must actively document and analyze your performance at a task and compare it to past experiences. With this analysis you can make judgements and quantify, if you will, your current state. See, The role of metacognitive experiences in the learning process, abstract or the previous link, Metacognition: an Overview.
Metacognitive Skills – Developing metacognitive skills allows you to connect your knowledge of how cognition works to your experience of cognition, and to identify solutions that could hinder the development of your mastermind.
Use it: This is where you come up with strategies and plans to make improvements and set future goals for tasks, using the previous metacognitive components. See, Metacognition: an Overview.
Cognitive science has also identified additional strategies that aid in cognitive development. These strategies, known as meta-affective strategies, are especially relevant to INTJs, as we often resist dealing with challenges, preferring instead to revise our strategy, or walk away. This becomes even more relevant when those challenges are tied to emotions. INTJs don’t like emotions clouding up our cognition. Nevertheless, cognition is often hijacked by emotions, which then impedes learning and development. When this happens, walking away from developing your mastermind should not be an option. Revising your strategy is an option. Maybe it’s not a popular option for INTJs, but it is an option. Learning and using meta-affective strategies can counter the hijacking of cognition by that worst of all terrors — emotion. Meta-affective strategies aren’t so different from meta-cognition, they are just focused on dealing with emotions, challenges, and roadblocks.
Meta-affective Knowledge– Meta-affective knowledge categorizes emotions, roadblocks, and/or challenges from the perspective of identification.
Use it: Similar to metacognitive knowledge, to use meta-affective knowledge, you must know what you are feeling about yourself, the task, and or situation.
Meta-affective Experience-analyzes affects and underlying causes of emotions, roadblocks, and/or challenges as they occur.
Use it: Similar to metacognitive experiences, you must analyze past and present emotions and potential causes to determine how the emotions you are feeling currently affect your current task.
Meta-affective Skills-takes the affecting factors, externalizes them into a broader context (like I can’t allow frustration to keep me from honing my mastermind), and gives us the power to identify an effective solution.
Use it: Creating effective strategies to bring emotions under control and manageable. This might be where you use more traditional self help tools such as keeping a journal or taking a walk.
These thinking strategies are intangible, which makes them sound easy. However, it may be easier thought, rather than practiced, especially on the emotional side of things. Using these thinking tools gets you closer to being an actual INTJ mastermind. Some of these things I think we already do naturally, but it can be nice to have a name and more defined theory for our natural cognition. It should be noted that I do not consider myself an INTJ mastermind. I’m on the path to learning more about these tools. For those of you who aren’t impressed with the power of the intangible, here are a few tangible resources to help you to learn about thinking. The list that follows is the perfect INTJ Reading Primer to get you started on your mastermind journey, if you’re still overthinking it:
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, By Steven Pinker (Or any of his books, but this is one of my personal faves)
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, By Daniel J. Levitin (Reading this one right now. Excellent so far.)
A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if you Flunked Algebra), By Barbara Oakley (As good as The Organized Mind. Full of cognitive development strategies.)
Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, By Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel (Pretty good, heavy on the anecdotes and stories though.)
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, By Peter M. Senge (This is a classic for organizations.)
Note: When I set out to create The Mastermind Toolkit with my writing partner and momager, Mechelle Avey, the goal was to offer introverts a brief overview of the cognitive functional stack (my area of interest) and to identify tools that could be used to increase effectiveness and productivity (her area of interest). As we worked to develop this post, we found ourselves wading in the deep waters of available research on the available tools to develop and master cognitive strengths. We also missed our first deadline. Then we missed a second deadline. This is uncommon for me, as an INTJ, and my Mom (INFJ) feels bad as well. In the end, we’ve decided that the post is too long (11 pages in Word) to keep to three parts. Unlike our original plan, this article will cover thinking only. Each Wednesday in November, we will analyze a set of tools that can be used to develop mastermind capabilities. This, we both feel, will give readers the opportunity to better absorb the information that we provide, and to assess the value of the information presented. To all of our readers, we apologize for the delay, and for the change in direction.
Check out part 4 of the Mastermind Series here!