The Virtues Of Digging Down The Wrong Rabbit Hole

In the personality hacker’s game, misjudging your strengths and trajectory is a slippery slope to a life so out of alignment you cannot fathom the desperation til it’s upon you. If you find yourself deep in the downward spiral, pay attention! You are within reach of your life’s greatest treasure.

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All of my INTJ aspirations crashed like windshield glass across my forehead as my profiler’s warmly rational voice repeated the letters: I… N… F… P…

The previous 3 years raced through my mind.

So much inner turmoil. So much perplexing strain.

Suddenly, it all made sense.

I had aligned my life to realize my full potential… as an INTJ.

My business, my lifestyle, and relationships all looked great on Facebook, but I’d been riding on rails with my wheels out of alignment.

The faster I went, the more sparks flew to catch my attention. But as a die-hard member of the American-entrepreneurial just-do-it culture, I was determined to “push through my resistance.”

“Just Do It.”

~Gary Gilmore (murderer who insisted on his own death sentence… yeah)

It’s funny, looking back, how all the dots connect.

Three years prior, my girlfriend and I partnered to build a business that quickly grew to over 7-figures in revenue, with 22 employees.

On top of a monthly flight east, to connect with my daughter, our lifestyle involved monthly travel for ‘tribal gatherings’ like Burning Man, invitation-only TED-style talks, mastermind meetings, and smaller, more intimate workshops.

The business, the lifestyle, the travel… was a lot to keep up with. I burned out my adrenals and spent the second year recovering from our first wild year.

I had no idea at the time, but the burnout activated my inferior (3-year-old) cognitive function: “Effectiveness” or Extraverted Thinking.

Effectiveness is the co-pilot or growth edge for an INTJ.

It’s the perfect expression of entrepreneurial culture. I leaned into this grossly underdeveloped part of me believing it was my key to success and everything that comes with it – everything I thought I wanted since I became an entrepreneur in my early twenties.

Like a good INTJ, I doubled down on systemizing my life, reading voraciously, attending seminars and workshops, hiring coaches and growing a team to maximize my efficiency as a business leader, partner, and father.

If you’re familiar with the Personality Hacker Car Model, you’ll recognize the irony of letting my 3-year-old drive the proverbial bus. Personality psychologists call this being ‘in the grip.’

But, it worked! For a while…

By our third year, my girlfriend and I had achieved everything we’d aimed for together. As the business slipped into a nice groove, we hired a CEO to take over. Our focus became growing to the next plateau.

But stretching to new heights revealed an undercurrent of tension eroding our foundation.The more we succeeded, the more turbulent things got… until it became unbearable.

We needed insight.

Mutual friends of ours raved about Personality Hacker, so we paid for a couple of profiling sessions.

Our Profiler nailed the source of our tension and gave us words to describe it. She revealed that I was an INFP, and my partner an ENTJ (not an ENFP, as believed).

We were, in fact, poetically opposite one another. Opposite our mutual understandings of ourselves… and each other.

We had built our lives completely out of alignment.

No one with “Authenticity” (Introverted Feeling) as their dominant cognitive function (Driver) can sustain a misaligned life very long. My world promptly turned upside down. Inside out.

Getting accurately re-typed brought our unconscious struggles to the light. Seeing each other more clearly explained why things felt so terribly off. Seeing our challenges objectively relieved some of the sting and made it all feel less personal.

Within a month we had graciously parted ways.

I moved permanently back to upstate New York to be with my daughter… and get back to my center. Winding down so much momentum was challenging. Mostly, I just crashed and burned.

Desperately seeking relief, I dove deep with the help of an exceptional therapist. In the map of the Hero’s Journey, I had begun my descent to the underworld.

Poring over 20 years of personality profiles, the insights began overlapping. Everything in my life that wasn’t a genuine HELL YES! became plain. And painful.

I started saying “no” …a lot.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah! …it’s a No.”

~Derek Sivers

By year end, I’d let go of nearly all my relationships and walked away from the business, too.

With no savings, no income and no desire to live as I had been, I turned to face my dragons — the dark, often shameful consequences of living so out of alignment. It was brutal.

I found myself out for a walk Christmas day, wondering why I was still sucking oxygen.

Suicidal ideation is no joke.

In that moment, touching bottom, I saw my narcissism in sharp relief. It dawned on me that if a teenage girl needs anything, she needs a strong father.

Deciding to stick around for my daughter was the first, authentic, full-bodied Hell Yes! I had felt in a long, long time. I had no clue how I’d support us financially, but I committed to sorting it out.

“Every adversity contains the seeds of an equivalent or greater benefit.”

-Napoleon Hill

Another Hell Yes! came a month later.

Sitting by the wood stove in a snowy mountain cabin north of Vermont, re-reading (and burning) 12 years of journals leading up to this point, I realized I had compiled a highly effective success formula.

But due to my gross misalignment, the very success I’d created tore me apart.

In a flash, I could see my path forward.

Over the course of 3 months, I aligned my life (“Authenticity”) by connecting the dots (“Exploration”) from my personality profiles and journals (“Memory”) and set my course for sustainable success (“Effectiveness”).

Activating my INFP superpowers felt amazing.

The dots all pointed me in the direction of coaching. So I started sharing the hard-won insights from my entrepreneurial journey. First with friends, then referrals.

Guiding others to accurate self-knowledge became my daily practice. Coaching them to authentic success became my greatest contribution. Watching their lives transform became my greatest joy.

I began to experience flow every day.

Eventually, the money started flowing, too. And just when I thought I was in the clear… my daughter’s teenage rebellion drew me into the trials and ordeal of my next Hero’s Journey.

“I think a good life is one Hero’s Journey after another.”

~Joseph Campbell

Nobody consciously chooses descent into the underworld. But if you find yourself deep ‘in the grip,’ wondering what’s come over you, take heart, because the gold in your shadow is near.

Had I not super-charged my inferior, 3-year-old function (Effectiveness), the dots might still have connected, and I’d likely be fine… but I wouldn’t have codified my insights into a system that others could use for their own growth.  

The virtues of digging down the wrong rabbit hole are the discoveries you’ll make in the places you’d never dare look.

We can only lead others as deep as we’ve gone in ourselves.

In my own Hero’s Journey, I was unwittingly led to the underworld, the last place I wanted to go. And it nearly ended in my demise. Yet, I emerged with a magical gift — a process I now call Purpose Mapping — which has become my greatest contribution in the world.

If you find yourself wondering why life isn’t in flow for you, here are some steps you can take:

  1. “Triangulate” multiple personality profiles to clarify who you are and why you’re here.
  2. Set your sights on the highest potential you can envision for your life.
  3. Develop your winning formula by playing to your strengths and avoiding your downfall.
  4. Experiment, refining as you go… until you hit your flow state.
  5. Then mentor others to get their lives into alignment because, in your Hero’s Journey, the gold you retrieve from the underworld is not for YOU, it’s for you to contribute to others.
Showing 8 comments
  • Lyn
    Reply

    I’m an INFP who is aware I have misalignment in my career track and lifestyle due to my desire to strengthen my Te way back early adolescence period- believing that this is the pathway to success and thinking I could overcome those traits that the society think as “weak” – being emotional, being vulnerable, being too merciful. I even tried to expand myself to become more “extroverted”. I did make lots of adjustment and made some progress which I am greatly thankful of coz they are learning points.

    But at some point, I know something is off inside me. My energy is easily drained. my creative ideas are dropping. And I would find myself crying at night. I tried to convince myself that those are just the prices I had to pay to become a “successful and strong woman”. But I knew, I needed to make a U-turn.

    This year, I gave up leadership roles in the organizations I’ve been handling – I’m now trying to slowly dis-engage from all the highly Te and Extroverted activities I got myself into. I want to find that fine flow that I would usually feel and have whenever I spend my time on my own, doing my favorite “innie activities” – arts, crafts, music, loving people that are important to me and Spirituality.

    Thanks for this post, this is highly inspiring. I could relate to some of those situations you mentioned above. I’d like to activate my INFP superpowers too. Hopefully, I’ll find my flow. And thanks also to Personality Hacker-I’ve been reading and learning a lot from this site.

    • Craig Filek
      Reply

      Lyn, what a wonderful fork in the road you’ve taken – back toward your authentic self.

      I can’t speak for any other type, but coming home to authenticity feels like the most nourishing journey from an INFP standpoint. I think we all make mistakes based on childhood conditioning and what Personality Hacker is doing deeply inspires so many of us to reclaim who and what we’ve lost track of.

      Keep trusting yourself!

  • Stacy Egan
    Reply

    I loved reading this because I had the same confusion of my type! At a young age (4th grade, I remember the moment!) I decided to not let my emotions rule my behavior but instead value rational thinking. That set the course of my life and once I graduated college with my physics degree and got a science-related job for the government they gave me the MBTI test and I came out as INTJ. I went through decades thinking this was my type (with brief periods during my devouring of New Age books in my late 20’s thinking I might be INFJ). It wasn’t until recently that I came to understand that I am actually an INFP. I didn’t drive myself in my career as much as you did, but I always felt this discomfort that I wasn’t where I best fit. Fortunately, I was able to retire early from my engineering job and now I watercolor paint and have grown enough in proficiency to teach it. It’s so liberating to finally be able to rest into your own true type. I love how you talk about awakening your own INFP superpowers.

    • Craig Filek
      Reply

      Stacy, I loved reading this!

      It’s totally liberating to relax into who we are… especially as NFs who get so caught up in the ESTJ culture we’re swimming in.

      INFP super-powers, FTW!

  • Karen
    Reply

    Loved this. Glad you found yourself. I went through the same journey, although of course the details were completely different. I didn’t understand MBTI until after it was nearly over, but Personality Hacker gave me a really helpful lens to see what happened.

    It’s nice to be in flow.

    • Craig Filek
      Reply

      Glad to hear you found your flow, Karen!

  • Mufreddin
    Reply

    Inspiring article!

    I love the point about triangulating profiles for clarity and clues towards your purpose. I’m currently in the process of doing this as we speak. I know my MB type and I’m using the Enneagram, also.

    • Craig Filek
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it, Mufreddin.

      Using your MBTI and Enneagram will reveal powerful insights in the overlap.

      Once you’ve done that, keep going by adding something like Human Design or Jordan B Peterson’s version of the Big 5 Personality Traits.

      I’d love to hear what you come up with!

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