In Featured, Growth, Home Featured, Models of Development, Personality Development, Personality Hacker Blog, Personality Psychology, Questions from Readers

questions from readers

I recently received a question in the comments section of our podcast Personality Types in Personal Development:

“I never quite thought of the auxiliary function (the co-pilot) as growth state, or at least in those words, but moreso as implementer of the primary function (the driver), which at the end of the day is actually growth! Would you elaborate a bit more on how you see growth from the co-pilot standpoint? Do you see it as merely the implementer of the Driver or as something more, or a combination of the two?”

– Julian

[If you’re not familiar with the Car Model yet, please read this post for a more complete picture.]


In order to be a well-rounded person, we need to be able to do four things successfully:

1. We need to be able to get in touch with our ‘inner world’.
2. We need to be able to get ‘outer world’ feedback.


3. We need a way to take in new information.
4. We need a way to evaluate that information and make decisions.

If we’re missing any of those four things, we end up being lopsided. If we can’t get in touch with our inner world, we become overly reactionary to outside stimuli. If we’re out of touch with the ‘outer world’, then we ignore vital feedback that keeps us in touch with ‘reality’.

Similarly, if we don’t take in new information we become highly prejudice. And, alternatively, if we can’t evaluate new information to make decisions we do nothing but tread water.

Awesomely, our Driver and Co-Pilot processes help use perform all four, since each of 8 cognitive functions are either Extraverted or Introverted as well as being either info-gathering or decision-making.

If your Driver process is Introverted, your Co-Pilot will automatically be Extraverted (and vice versa). And if your Driver process gathers new information, then your Co-Pilot automatically evaluates to make decisions (and vice versa).



(If you use the graphic for reference, remember that all the Sensor and Intuitive processes learn new information and all of the Thinking and Feeling processes evaluate information to make decisions.)

This is why we call the combination of the Driver and Co-Pilot your ‘genius’ – you can’t be in your genius if you’re missing two necessary components of personality. The stronger your Co-Pilot process, the more balanced you become as a person and the more in your genius you are.

As an aside – It’s not uncommon for people to assume that if you’re, say, an Intuitive you need to focus more on your Sensory process, or if you’re a Feeler you need to become more Thinker. It feels like a common sense approach to becoming ‘balanced’. Unfortunately, this only ends up diluting the talents of your Driver and Co-Pilot.

It’s called the ‘cost of specialization’ – you are going to, by definition, become stronger at the things you place your attention on and weaker at anything not within that sphere of attention. Since time on this planet is short, if you try to be good at everything you become good at nothing. My observation has been that the people at the top of their game haven’t tried to be more Intuitive if they’re Sensor or more feeler if they’re a Thinker. They’ve, instead, focused on developing that Co-Pilot process (whether they realize it or not!).

Back to the point.

Each personality type LOVES their Driver process. If you ask someone to describe themselves, even if they know nothing about personality types they’ll end up spending about 80% of their time describing that process. Using our Driver process is a pleasure, often puts us in a flow state, and we naturally allocate a lot of time to it. We clock our ‘10,000 hours’ using the Driver process because we just like it so much.

The Co-Pilot process… not so much. For a couple of reasons.

First, it will be in the opposite attitude of our Driver process. “Attitude” is in-speak for “Introversion or Extraversion.” Meaning, if our Driver process is Introverted, then our Co-Pilot is Extraverted (and vice versa, as mentioned before). The world in the opposite attitude of our Driver is a less comfortable place for most of us.

As an Extravert, I can attest to the ‘inner world’ being far less easy for me to manage than the outer one. And I’ve yet to meet an Introvert that doesn’t regularly need alone time to recover from the outer world.

So, our Co-Pilot process forces us to visit that ‘other’ world. This is GOOD for us, but not always comfortable.

Second, it will also require us to either be more thoughtful about our decisions or it will require us to make a decision. For those that have a decision-making process as their Driver, it’s sometimes difficult for them to slow down enough to take in more information. And for those who have information gathering as their Driver, feeling pressured to make a decision can be torture.

personalityhacker_comfort-zone-graphicAgain, this discomfort is good for us. All growth happens out of our comfort zone.

So, while our Co-Pilot is a natural gift and preference, the exercising of this process can represent discomfort. If we’re used to indulging ourselves psychologically and emotionally, we just won’t go there.

I should probably make a note about the difference betweenย using andย exercising a process. It’s easiest to do so with an illustration.

If you pick up a golf club and hit a golf ball with it, that’s using a golf club. If you dig a 4.25 inch hole and attempt to get the golf ball into that hole from 290 yards… now you’reย exercising that usage. You’ve set a measurable goal and can observe improvement. Exercise isn’t simply usage, it’s increasing skill and competency.

We’re all going to use both our Driver and Co-Pilot processes. And unless we’re very unhealthy, we’ll exercise the Driver process because it’s fun to give it challenges and watch it improve. However, our Co-Pilot isn’t as intrinsically rewarding to push toward excellence, so it often is in a diminished ‘supporter’ role.

As I mentioned before, the people at the top of their game – gymnasts, musicians, mathematicians, engineers, etc… – are sometimes so balanced you can’t tell which process is their Driver and which is their Co-Pilot!

(There are some that are so unhealthy you can’t tell their Driver process, either, but this isn’t due to Co-Pilot development. They’re usually too invested in their 10 Year Old process or ‘forced’ into their 3 Year Old process synthetically.)

So, to answer your question: YES. The Co-Pilot process is the key to the whole enchilada. The more developed it is, the more a person actively exercises the process, the more they’re in their Zone of Genius. (I’d copyright that, but it’s not that good.)

Hope that helps – thanks for the question!



Want to learn more?

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Showing 21 comments
  • Deborah Dahl

    You seem to prefer to keep presentation materials brief, but your value proposition is all about tailoring personal growth goals to your particular personality type. In that respect, this would be much more satisfying & meaningful for clients if the conceptual framework were developed to provide specific examples and illustrations of how this lesson module plays out in real time with my type.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I’d recommend finding your type on the site and reading the articles, listening to the podcasts and watching the videos. This article is intended to support a concept, those resources are intended to be more targeted. It would be kind of silly to address all 16 types in a single article.

      That would make sense, right?


  • Helen Thomas

    INFJ – this is so crystal clear in terms of how to grow and move outside of my comfort zone. So, I need to focus more energy on extroversion and on Harmony decision making. Feels very challenging because I SO love my comfort zone!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Salt Young

    Very elegant system, the way the driver and co-pilot balance each other out and how overdeveloping the back seat passengers interferes “with the cost of specialization”. Now I’m beginning to question my balance with the functions even more…

  • Ali

    Interesting Article… I am an INTJ, can you tell me what is my co-pilot??? And some tips for that???

    • Charis Branson

      Hey Ali! Your co-pilot is Extraverted Thinking. We call it Effectiveness. We have a lot of resources for developing this cognitive function. Here is a resource page for your type where you can find all the resources we have for you: Cheers!

  • Abby Eagle

    Excellent article. I am a creator type personality – INTJ. So easy to get into the flow on the creation side but then i have to market the project, team up with people – so slow and challenging – or i have to learn how to use online marketing platforms —– tires me out. But even before i came across personality hacker i had come to understand that i need to work hard at implementing systems and procedures. And to give the 10 year old enough love and attention to build self esteem and then power along the highway to success. Also i suffer from CFS – chronic fatigue syndrome which relates back to overwork in my 20’s – the 3 year old Sensation. Giving myself enough sensory based activities in the day can be a bit challenging. But just cleaning my apartment gets me out of my head and more grounded in my body and creates a sense of well being. As long as i can create structure and systems – and implement them, then i make progress.

  • julieta Arias

    Thank you so much for the article, it helps me a lot!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Denzel Mensah

    This is very true. It’s actually fascinating to see people who don’t know anything about typology that have somehow developed their co-pilot so much so that you can’t even tell which one they lead with between their co-pilot and driver. I personally think that’s one of the ultimate signs of a healthy person. Being capable of even being mistaken for your introverted/extroverted sibling type. Thanks for this!

  • Caty Lee

    Antonia–thank you for writing. this clarifies a lot of loose ends.

  • rani

    Thanks! I felt confuse. I got little point. Who can explain to me with simply? Is the conclude that we must balanced between our driver n co-pilot? I’m ISFJ.

  • Anna Luna

    Hi, I haven’t read the whole article yet, but I had to say something about your statement that one will not feel compelled to use their co-pilot process. For me, this is not true at all. I’m an ENFP and for as long as I can remember, I have had to be authentic with everything I do. I can’t not do it. And I very much feel compelled to use it.
    I’m very grateful for having found your site and now I know that I even need to further explore and hone it to feel more complete. Sometimes I wonder if it gets in my way of achieving my goals (my effectiveness questions it), but now I know that it’s absolutely crucial for my development.
    Thank you!

    • Anna Luna

      Maybe the key is the difference between using and exercising my co-pilot. I’ll have to look at that. Thanks for the insight.

  • Caroline

    Antonia, I’ve been following you guys for 3 months now and I have to say, thank you for being so smart and clear. Wow. I love the intention behind your work and the way you explain in ways that show both flexibility and strength in play with ideas. It’s a model in itself for how I’d like to hold my ideas. I’m just so happy that you found your way of expressing in this world because it has helped so many people already. I’ve learned a lot from hearing the way you approach problems and questions and Joel too ๐Ÿ™‚ — Just wanted to tell you that, because I’ve been geeking out like crazy since I found you guys. P.S. I’m an INFJ, so it’s probably to be expected that I would (lol).

    • Heather

      I’m an INFJ too! Finally someone who understands me, and what?! i’m normal?! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I still have no clue though what it “looks like” to have a healthy Driver/ Co-Pilot. Do I have a healthy balance? I think rather than the concept, I need specific examples to understand it better.

  • Ehsan

    It was really illustrative specially with your models and graphics.
    Your graphics and models along with explanations, are like systems which formulate and connect all my experiences and knowledge which seems to be quite apart and abstract. (I am an INTJ who have had lots of challenges in life and also a long time study in depth psychology and mysticism.) It is like your explanations link them and provide a tangible model where I can put different materials in their place and see the relation between them and hopefully make use of them in practice.

    I am wondering if you provide online sessions for personal consulting?

    Thanks so much.
    Best wishes for you all.

  • Kirk Tain

    As an INTJ I am interested to know how our 3 year olds or 10 year olds can sabotage or hijack our development in integrating our driver and co-pilot.

    Many thanks for your advice.

  • VL

    Thanks for information. As i push myself to my limits i find it more and more intresting but not really comfortable and drained my energy a lot. At the end of the day I always find myself playing with my 10 year old. Or maybe my 3 year old. But its fun.

  • Carly


    I’ve been devleved into your and Joel’s site and podcasts for a little over three years now, and Id like to say I work very hard to growth my personality daily and try to be aware of self as much as possible and listen to you guys speak for inspiration and tangible practices to impliment in my world, (you guys are unreal as to how much inspiration you’ve provided me and the work youre doing in the world right now) my question about this article is just on the decision making process that I believe is my co pilot (believe I show up as an ENFP). Recently Ive been doing so well Ive been happy and achieving things Ive set out and growing in ways that I had no idea would happen, but something happened with a relationship with someone new and I cant put my finger as to why its stopped me in my tracks and it kind of comes down to making a decision, as to whether to cut this person off, or just to remain friends.. and I guess Im just wondering if this would be an opportunity to grow my co pilot possibly…? or if instances like this fit the bit as to what to look for on a deeper level of growing a decision making co pilot process.

    hopefully that makes any sense at all to you! as Ive been trying to decipher things myself lately so I tried to put words as best i could. and provides enough context, I know you like your contextual details ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you so much,
    light and love

  • Mon

    If I remember correctly, I think you mentioned in one of your podcasts that strengthening the co-pilot automatically helps with the 3rd and 4th functions too. How so? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  • Mars

    very excerllent sharing. Thanks Antonia -Mars

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