Teenagers – exciting, exuberant, exhausting and exasperating! All of these things and, of course many more. For those of us who live and/or work with this age group we know so well the highs and lows; the expectations followed by achievement and the expectations followed by disappointment. It is indeed a tricky age. So how can we help, especially when they may appear so disinterested in being helped and dismissive of our abilities as adults to understand?
As Type professionals we have a golden key that unlocks an important door, however, unless it is our profession, we can be very hesitant to use it. There’s something about teenagers that can be just a tiny bit scary. My advice – please be bold. There is no better time to engage with these emerging young adults and help them on their way. One of my favourite quotes from Oscar Wilde is “I am not young enough to know everything.” So true. Our young people can appear so confident and yet we know there is so much more to know. Age and experience tells us so.
Those who do spend time with teenagers are endlessly rewarded by the results. Whilst evaluating and testing the Personality Puzzle Type for Teens resource I have had some great moments and I am delighted to say that so have many others.
My good friend Nicky Gumbrell hosted an event which, for me at least, was a critical point in discovering just how much we can serve this age group. Her 15 year old daughter, Kate, created a Facebook event (I have to confess, I didn’t know what that was!) and invited her class to come round to her place to find out about personality type stuff and then go to the beach. Fifteen fifteen year olds turned up. Yay! (OK, perhaps it was the beach trip that enticed them but, hey, whatever!)
I gave a very brief introduction and then let them loose on the cards in small groups to work out their preferences. They came to Nicky or I when they were done, and we gave them their whole type description card and also the careers card to see if the ideas they had suited them or to give them some ideas to kick off with. They could ask questions of either of us along the way.
It was an enjoyable and valuable morning. After an hour and a half they were all sorted. There were many light bulb moments but here are a few of my favourites.
An ISFJ worked out that her mum and sister were both ENTPs and could see clearly where things were going wrong between them. Her Dad was more like her, which was a relief, now she knew why. En ENFP had wanted to be a fire fighter. Not a bad choice really, but with a small reality check she could see that this wasn’t a perfect fit. An ISTP wanted to be a psychologist (because his uncle was one and he admired him greatly) or a pilot. Both good choices. With some guiding questions he could see that his second choice may be a better fit. “Keep thinking though!” we said. Two ENTPs turned up late, within five minutes they worked out they shared the same preferences, were quite happy with that, and were ready for the beach. Why are we not surprised?!
(Before I alienate all the careers practitioners who are reading this, yes I know that your role is much more in-depth and that it is a wise investment to get more advice, in fact, it says this clearly on each of the careers cards. I hope I am let off the hook!)
Here’s what the teens had to say:
“Career path wise I thought it was amazingly accurate in job paths that may suit me.” (ISTP)
“It has made me realise the reasons I do things and that maybe I’m not as different from everyone as I thought I was. “ (ENTP)
“It has made me understand how I react to different situations, what sort of careers I would suit, what types my friends are and how we get along.” (ESFJ)
“It helped me understand some of the career paths I should take which were extremely accurate.” (INFP)
“It’s great to understand why friends and classmates are the way that they are, and how they’re different from me”. (ISTJ)
“I was able to discover way more about me than I knew.” (ENFP)
“This will help me with identifying my strengths and improving on my weaknesses, particularly at school and figuring out what career I might want to follow. (ISTP)
“Now I feel I know myself more and I know what is suited to my personality in regards to a career.” (INTP)
If you have teenagers in your world, whether personally or professionally, as Type professionals we have the ability, skills and knowledge to help them. So let’s give it a try. Working with youth in any capacity is great work, whether they are thriving, striving or troubled they still need our support. The Myers-Briggs® model we all love so much needs to have a younger generation who are excited by it and are convinced that it works. If we can create opportunities for this learning to happen I believe we will be serving our families and communities well.
My thanks to Nicky, Kate and all her friends for providing this learning opportunity.
Alison Laurie – Career Consultant, AUT