|S = Sensing Types - SJ & SP||N = iNtuitive Types - NF & NT|
|TRADITIONALISTS (SJ)||EXPERIENCERS (SP)||IDEALISTS (NF)||CONCEPTUALISTS (NT)|
Like their fellow SPs, ISTPs are fundamentally Performers (note the capital 'P' :-)), but as Ts their areas of interest tend to be mechanical rather than artistic like those of ISFPs, and unlike most SPs they do not present an impression of constant activity. On the contrary, they lie dormant, saving their energy until a project or an adventure worthy of their time comes along--and then they launch themselves at it. The apparently frenzied state that inevitably ensues is actually much more controlled than it appears--ISTPs always seem to know what they're doing when it comes to physical or mechanical obstacles--but the whole chain of events presents a confusing and paradoxical picture to an outsider.
ISTPs are often fearless, risking themselves more than other types, despite (even frequently) injury. Of all the types, ISTPs ar most likely to pit themselves, or their technique, against chance, odds, or fate. They thrive on excitement; they crave some excitement each day, in the form of fast motion - racing, sky diving, or surfing, for instance. This hunger for action makes them more subject to boredom than any other type, their urge driving them to faster pace. Strangely, however, they are not bored while doing their thing, even though there may be long stretches when nothing happens, as during travel, surfing, hunting, or fishing.
The ISPT nature is most easily seen in their mastery of tools, tools of any kind, from microscopic drill to supersonic jet. From an early age, they are drawn to tools as to a magnet; they must manipulate them, and tools fall into their hands demanding use. Many pilots by the age of five knew that they were going to be pilots. ISTPs tend to take up activities thta allow them to use tools: driving, steering, operating. And if a given tool, whether scalpel or earthmover, is operated with a precision that defies belief, that operator is likely an ISTP. Others, use tools, of course, but not with the virtuosity of the ISTP. Indeed, we must call ISTPs the tool artisans, for they above all others command the tool and bend it to their impulse. But again, ISTPs work with their tools on personal impulse and not on schedule. If an externally imposed schedule coincides with impulse, fine; if not, so much the worse for the schedule.
One tool especially attractive to the ISTP is the weapon. The hit man of today, the gunslinger of the American West, and the duelist of the 18th Century Europe, may be seen as virtuosos of precision homicide. They all took pride in their prowness. Fortunately the face their own kind in battle, the good warriors of the land: soldier, marshal, police, firefighter, intelligence agent. This is not to say that all warriors, good or bad, are ISTPs, or that ISTPs are all weapons experts; rather that the weapon virtuoso is more frequently ISTP than not.
ISTPs also play on impulse, taking off at any time just because they "feel like it". [We are advised not to try to stop the ISTP who "feels like" doing something]. The neurosurgeon does crop dusting on the side and rides a motorcycle to the airport, and the financier goes on a hunting trip in the middle of an audit (i.e., SJ scrutiny). There can be no end to the ways ISTPs seek thrills in play. Although they may have the appearance of loners in their work, they nonetheless hang around their own kind in play. The climbers, racers, flyers, hunters, and in general, movers, flock together. The companionship is mediated through the tool, and conversation is sparce and terse.
ISTPs are equally difficult to understand in their need for personal space, which in turn has an impact on their relationships with others. They need to be able to "spread out"--both physically and psychologically--which generally implies encroaching to some degree on others, especially if they decide that something of someone else's is going to become their next project. (They are generally quite comfortable, however, with being treated the same way they treat others--at least in this respect.) But because they need such a lot of flexibility to be as spontaneous as they feel they must be, they tend to become as inflexible as the most rigid J when someone seems to be threatening their lifestyle (although they usually respond with a classic SP rage which is yet another vivid contrast to their "dormant," impassive, detached mode). These territorial considerations are usually critical in relationships with ISTPs; communication also tends to be a key issue, since they generally express themselves non-verbally. When they do actually verbalize, ISTPs are masters of the one-liner, often showing flashes of humor in the most tense situations; this can result in their being seen as thick-skinned or tasteless.
Despite their egalitarianism, insubordination, and love of freedom, the can be leaders, even great ones. But they must be "up front", sword in hand, leading the charge. That is to say, ISTPs can be very successful as battle leaders, for instance, no matter how large or small the forces under their command. Their supreme realism, timing, and sense of expediency allows them to seize the moment and fully exploit whatever resources can be gotten (theirs or others) and capitalize on deficits and mistakes of their opponent. Theirs is an expediency and exploitative leadership, based on a special kind of intelligence, a tactical intelligence. Yes, for the ISTP battle leader, combat is an art, an intellectual game, not in the sense of strategy (that is for NTs), but rather using whatever is at hand to defeat the other with the least injury.
Behaviorally the ISTP is more like the ESTP than any other type, and the oder they get, the greater the resemblance.
Like most SPs, ISTPs may have trouble with rote and abstract classroom learning, which tend not to be good measures of their actual intelligence. They tend, sometimes with good reason, to be highly skeptical of its practical value, and often gravitate towards classes in industrial arts; part-time vocational/ technical programs can be useful to even the college-bound ISTP. In terms of careers, mechanics and any of the skilled trades are traditional choices, and those ISTPs with strong numerical as well mechanical gifts tend to do extremely well in most areas of engineering. Working as paramedics or firefighters can fulfill the ISTP need to live on the edge; they are at their best in a crisis, where their natural disregard for rules and authority structures allows them to focus on and tackle the emergency at hand in the most effective way.
ISTPs with more sedate careers usually take on high-risk avocations like racing, skydiving, and motorcycling. While aware of the dangers involved, they are so in touch with the physical world that they know they can get away with much smaller safety margins than other types.
Still, the most important thing about ISTPs is their communality with the other SPs. We might think that there would be some resemblance to the ISTJ, having as they, "IST" in common. But no, their behavior is anti-ethical in almost every dimension of comparison. The ISTJ is pessimistic while the ISTP is optimistic, the ISTJ is parenteral, the ISTP is fraternal; one saves, the other spends, one believes in rules, the other is instinctually insubordinate and recalcitrant to rules; and so on. ISTPs have infinitely more in common with the very different ESFP than they do with any NT or SJ; besides the above, their mood is one of good cheer, they are loyal to their equals, they want no obligations, duties, or confining promises, are uncomplicated in their desires, and are trusting, receptive and generous.