The Myers-Briggs system is the brainchild of Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Cook Briggs. The system was originally designed to help the infamous surge of women who entered the workforce for the very first time during World War II. Most of these women had no experience at all in the industrial field, and Isabel and Katherine thought an understanding of personal preferences may help them make what was otherwise a blind choice in an unknown world.

What started out as an interest in Jungian typology and developed in the face of unprecedented need for self-understanding during WWII eventually turned into one of the most powerful self-understanding tools in modern psychology. As Isabel’s son Peter B. Myers says in the forward of her book Gifts Differing, “Her gift has been in repudiating the old, but too commonly held, idea that we are each in various ways a deviation from some ideal ‘normal person’. She replaced it with the recognition that each of us is born with different gifts, with unique imprints of how we prefer to use our minds and values and feelings in the business of living every day.”

Once you know your type within the Myers-Briggs system, a dump truck full of information becomes clear: how your mind processes information (which helps us optimize learning and problem-solving in business and school), how you best make decisions (helping guide you on the right paths to take romantically, secularly and personally), how you communicate, behave, live and love.

If you get good enough at it, you also have access to that information in others. The power of this information is endlessly applicable and never ceases to amaze me in its accuracy.

The Myers-Briggs system also gives us the one thing we don’t know we need until we get it: permission to be ourselves.