ENFPs are charming, energetic and imaginative. They draw people to themselves like bees to honey. It is rare to find an ENFP who is not surrounded by people hanging on their every word. They are the life of the party. They have a natural charisma that puts people at ease and makes even the most lonely, or damaged, among us feel like we are understood and valued as human beings.
Perhaps that is their greatest super power. As someone who constantly doubts myself, I find the enthusiastic optimism of the average ENFP contagious. Five minutes in their company and I feel I can conquer the world. They see everyone in terms of potential – not shortcomings. It’s hard to not feel empowered in their company.
In a recent survey of ENFPs, we asked them 4 questions:
- What are their top 3 challenges;
- What 3 things do they wish others knew about them;
- What 3 books/movies/courses/events have impacted their lives the most;
- What do they wish they had known as a 15 year old adolescent?
Their answers were many and varied, and gave us an interesting insight into the inner workings of the ENFP mind.
In reading the ENFP survey, I tried to find some common themes among their disparate stories. I have broken them all down to 5 items ENFPs wish they had known when they were 15 years old, in order of frequency. I am including direct quotes from the survey so we can all appreciate the variety of ways ENFPs have of expressing themselves.
#1 You’re Different – And That Is Your Greatest Strength
In the survey, 26% of ENFPs wished they could tell their younger selves that it is not only okay to be different, it is their path to awesomeness!
- “You’re kind of weird and that’s cool. People are envious of how clear your dream for a healthier planet is at your age. Your fearlessness to be quirky and hyper all the time because that’s how you feel at the moment is admirable. Don’t let anyone shush you into blending in. Do not play yourself down in fear of making other people jealous, or sorry for themselves. Your pursuit of your personal truth will inspire them to do the same for theirs. Your adherence to your personal values and dreams is a sign of strength, even when tears stream down your face. Your vulnerability allows others to feel safe with you, and provides a haven for letting it out.”
- “You don’t have to be tough or a gangster to fit in. You don’t have to fight just to prove that you are down with the homies. You will end up making more money than those guys anyway. There is no such thing as ‘acting white.’”
- “It’s gonna be okay. You are not crazy and do not have to feel ostracized because your ideas are so different. They are your greatest strength and you are going to change the world one day.”
#2 Don’t Wait To Discover Your Greatness
This next category was a sobering one. ENFPs may appear to be the life of the party, but they carry a lot of inner wounding due to past decisions. Decisions that continue to impact their present. 24% of ENFPs wish they had done things differently when they still had unlimited options.
- “Whatever you do, do not get married immediately out of high school. Finish college first for God’s sake. Be serious every now and then.”
- “Wait longer to have sex.”
- ”Don’t sell yourself short in a relationship. You do not need someone to love you and you have horrible taste! You need to be more independent – you think you are already, but you’re not. You’re spoiled and have no real sense of reality. Your parents are setting a wonderful example for you – even though you don’t get along with your mom – and you need to knock off the crap. Don’t work so hard to buck the system. You can be independent without being a pain in the ass. The sooner you figure that you, the better off you’ll be in the long run. NEVER let anyone make you feel like you’re less than you are…not girls, not boys, not men, not bosses. Stand firm and never let anyone take advantage of you.”
- “Cry more in front of others.”
- “Don’t get pregnant at 18.”
- “Love yourself so much that when someone treats you wrong you’ll recognise it. Don’t get on that plane, go to Hawaii instead and work as a check-out chick until you meet and marry Keanu Reeves. Learn karate and how to shoot a gun. Fall in love with weight lifting, exercising and healthy eating. Invest and save your money – buy that house FIRST.”
- “You’re depressed because you have a desire deep down inside to do something great with your life. You’re greater than what everyone else thinks and if you don’t do something right now to start believing in yourself and unleash that greatness inside of you, you’re going to end up wasting more than 30 years of your life.”
- “Keep up the good work. Keep playing sports. Who cares what people say. They will talk anyway. Live your dream for in the future. You will regret not following your passion every day. Stay sincere. But prepare your heart to bear the consequences of your life decisions. Even if your decisions are wholesome be prepared for your heart to break. But keep going. For the breaking of the heart is what opens it to the light of God.”
#3 Trust Your Instincts
ENFPs Copilot function is “Authenticity.” This is where some of their magnetism comes from. Authenticity tells them what to do by tapping into their internal convictions. It also helps them mirror the emotions of others as a form of communication.The Authenticity process can be slow in its decision-making abilities, however. So ENFPs sometimes struggle with giving themselves the time they need to tap into their inner convictions.
In the survey, 19% of ENFPs would counsel their younger selves to trust their instincts more.
- “You have the truth in your heart and miracles in your mouth. Your hands hold power and your feet spread beauty. Don’t listen to their rules and their fears. Don’t listen to their lies and their manipulation. Trust yourself and be yourself and follow your intuition and regret nothing.”
- “Only choose paths for yourself that feel really exciting to you. Not your parents or teachers, or anyone else. Just you. You can trust that feeling of excitement. It is valid, and it will never let you down. You don’t have to pick one path and stick to it for life. Just pick what interests you most for now and keep exploring new options along the way.”
- “It will all work out. What you believe is valid and ok. Don’t undermine your opinions, stand up for how you want to live. Don’t believe that those in authority are always right.”
- “Trust your instinct over other opinions, including experts. Pursue your passions with gusto, even if they aren’t practical. Take the road less traveled. When you move on, find ways to keep up with old friends. Treat yourself really, really well and don’t put up with anyone who doesn’t. Pay attention to the people (angels) who make a comment that is great advice in disguise.”
#4 Life is an Adventure
ENFPs primary cognitive function is “Exploration.” This is what gives an ENFP the gift of seeing possibility everywhere. It helps them learn quickly through experimentation and innovation. 12% of ENFPs surveyed wish they could’ve seen more potential for adventure when they were young.
- “Life is an adventure. Don’t spend it avoiding risk. Without risk, reward is bland. And never stop learning, no matter how boring life becomes. There is always something that will bring back that spark which makes life worth living. Your only job is to find that spark, the rest will come easy.”
- “Everything you explore with joy will either become a path to follow or a memory to warm your heart when you are sad. Your Dad is proud of you.”
- “Explore harder and faster. It’s okay to quit things, just be able to write a good rational full page essay on why you want to quit. Stop caring what other people think. Take one idea and just finish it. Work up to progressively bigger projects. Don’t try to copy other people’s paths, walk you own. Do not do operational work, stick with creative, innovative, people-facing work that has a visual and abstract element to it.”
ENFPs have the remarkable ability to inspire others to see their own potential. This makes them a gift to the rest of us. 9% of ENFPs said they find their greatest enjoyment from inspiring others.
- “Relax. Patience. Focus on authenticity. Understand your blind spots. Enjoy inspiring people and championing causes.”
- “You’re great! Don’t let people tell you otherwise! You have a compassionate heart that can be used for good!”
- “Your kindness and compassion are going to define your life. You may be tempted to pursue fame, but that’s not where your heart is. Your greatest gift is your ability to see others: both their beauty and their pain. You love and are loved so much.”
- “You are not invisible. The way you see the world is a gift. Learn that pain is not your enemy. Pain means you are alive and have survived. Every negative thing in your life is an opportunity for growth and to overcome. It is the fluid process of life. Wisdom is doing the wrong thing, correcting it, so you can help others navigate if they choose to.”
You Have Value
Some of the other common threads found within the survey were:
- Life gets better (8%)
- Maintaining the right connections is important (8%)
- Do what you love (7%)
- You have value (7%)
- Take better care of yourself (6%)
ENFPs comprise just 8% of the population, with women slightly outnumbering men. They are among the most academically talented, yet the most likely to have trouble conforming to the structure of the standard educational system. This often translates as a tendency to drop out or turn to substance abuse to cope with the boredom.
ENFPs are the least likely to get stressed out and because of this have lower than average rates of heart disease, hypertension, and chronic pain. They do have one achilles heel, however. The main thing ENFPs stress over is finances.
ENFPs energy, vision, and passion make them great for any team. The way they commit themselves to the growth of others makes me wish there were more of them. In fact, if everybody had an ENFP in their lives, the world would be a happier more productive place.
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We would love to hear in the comments below what advice you would give to yourself as an INFP teenager.