What Does a Healthy ENFP Personality Look Like?

robin-williams-enfp-personalityJoel and I have been discussing the tragedy of Robin William’s suicide, especially as it relates to his type as an ENFP personality – or, Exploration/Authenticity in the Genius System.

He was an amazing performer, but by all accounts when he wasn’t performing he was shy and had difficulty connecting with others.

A big question I keep seeing (or, rather, assertion I keep reading) is that people who are truly funny always balance it with a ‘dark side’, can’t connect with others authentically (that’s what the humor is for – to manufacture a feeling of relationship), and will almost always have lows as low as the highest high.

I’m not an expert on mental health, depression or suicide. An explanation of why Williams may have taken his life is being attempted by a lot of people right now, and I’ll leave it to others far more qualified than I to take on that task.

That said, I have observed often that the more time and effort we spend on truly developing and exercising our co-pilot process the heartier we are at dealing with some truly horrific things that life can throw at us.

I recently ran into the video below.

The comedian, Russell Brand, another ENFP personality (Exploration/Authenticity), has clearly spent a lot of time developing his Authenticity co-pilot process.

He’s a fantastic performer, very charismatic, and if given the right platform will often resemble Robin Williams in his energy and effusiveness.

He refers to himself as insane, but don’t let him fool you.

Instead of having difficulty connecting without the tool of performance, Brand appears far more responsive to people around him.

For example, in the situation in the video below there is no safe container for performance, so he instinctively understands it’s on him to create it.

In fact, as the people around him get more and more insecure, he gets more and more authentic and rests into himself.

There’s a connective element to his interaction, true concern in his voice toward the interviewers, which is quite disconcerting to them as they are fully in ‘performance’ mode.

It’s not easy to develop oneself when in the public eye, and it can be comforting to fall back on synthetic relationships when you’re really, really good at creating them.

For people of all types some of the hardest work is letting oneself recognize the difference between true development, and the illusion of growth based on accolades we may get for having talents others admire.

The litmus test is this: the former fills us to the brim with self-love, the latter always leaves us starving for more.

Read more about the Authenticity process here.



p.s. I’ve rarely seen such an amazing example of development in an performer. The closest is Jon Stewart, who is most likely an ENTP – Exploration/Accuracy.

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Showing 18 comments
  • Samira Khan

    I’ve read this twice now because it’s been recommended in the emails I’ve received, and I was hoping that this would have been updated through the lens of Robin Williams’ diagnosis and his brain lesions, both of which were revealed posthumously.

    With regard to Russel Brand, regardless of what has now come to light or what has already been an open secret, I always found that his style of verbal theatrics was a method of dominating and controlling the conversation to manipulate his interactions with others, even if it was entertaining or if he was getting at something real. In most casual situations, particularly with women, it was about dominance or control and not about having a sincere connection or conversation about concepts. However, I do believe that in the interview mentioned in this post (which can be found on YouTube), he shows a level of sincerity and authenticity, especially when he tries to go deeper into the meaning of the comedy show he was promoting and have a real conversation with the interviewees. He also, in the few episodes I’ve seen, showed this sincerity with guests on his podcast regardless of their gender.

    For analysis and educational purposes, after stating the broad idea of “there wasn’t a safe container for performance”, it would have been helpful if the author of this post described what they mean by safe container by either defining what they think it means or by giving an example of how or what part of the interview was not a safe container for performance. What is a container or a safe container? How was the interview not a safe container? I’m an ENFP so I can understand concepts, but as a reader an example would be useful to demonstrate which part of the interview or how the interview is not considered a safe container.

    I would really like to learn more about developing Authenticity, and I am curious about the how, so it would be insightful to have this post updated with other examples of underdeveloped Authenticity that have not been influenced by physiological abnormalities, particularly brain defects. It would also be helpful to have examples of developed Authenticity that do not have the manipulative and controlling parts of an ENFP.

    Personally, I think George Carlin, was an example of developed Authenticity. He believed his personal values (family and romantic love) were the only truly lasting values, and he understood that his performance wasn’t necessarily for a higher purpose but the part of his child-class-clown self that would be like, “watch this”.

    I usually engage with the content by Personality Hacker for educational and analytical purposes (I’ve bought the course on ENFP), and so I would love to see this blog post updated with examples of developed authentic and inauthentic ENFPs and concrete examples when describing concepts and situations, for the purpose of understanding how to develop my own Authenticity better.

    Also, I enjoy engaging with this type of content ?

  • Raquel

    Ok so here’s what my spidey sense tells me. As a feeler and a film director whose drug is to find authentic performances, I think Russell Brands self esteem is a100% dependant on the support and potentially numbers of his audience. His bravadery on calling out people’s truth is only ever as strong as the people who cheer him on. Take all that away and I reckon he would be a very confused and possibly angry man. I dont think he’s a good example of a healthy ENFP at all any more than Robin Williams. They just have/had different enneagrams.

    • Damion

      I sometimes notice that whenever someone around me is too shy, or scared, or juay feeling negatively about doing something that they want to do, I Instinctively become the total opposite of their emotions and feel i can and I will do whatever I feel like I. Those moments, which are usually helping my friend. But on the flip side, if my friend is the one who is not shy about anything or whatever. Then I again become the opposite..

  • Sara

    I totally get the interview…As an ENFP I can relate to his demeanor as I can tell he was searching for authenticity in his interactions with the anchors. He undoubtedly went there with the notion that he was going to be interviewed on his new comedy tour and asked “real questions” and was obviously caught off guard by the superficial anchors and their lack of genuine or intelligent interaction. ENFP’s don’t rehearse what they are going to talk about, it is all rather organic. I didn’t see him as being rude at all. I thought they were being extremely rude and judgmental; they obviously had only ever read about or seen him in tabloids and had no idea how to respond or converse with him at all. Which lead to him doing their job for them, because hey, why not, right? Somebody had to save the interview. It does go to show how superficial and rehearsed our media outlets are in America.

  • JP

    INTJ – I see through the facade and don’t like Russell Brand at all. I DO however, like Robin Williams. A lot.

  • Van

    I don’t think this Russell brand clip is the best example of a healthy enfp. I think a healthy enfp should not try to make fools of other people even if it means they are being authentic. Maybe this is just my value system but I often think that humour and performance should be collaborative. To me, Russel is using his status as a guest on the show AND his natural charisma to make other people look silly. Yeah maybe the people are facilitating their own demise but I think an enfp leader shouldn’t try to embarrass other people for not being confident but rather coax others authentic selves out of their shells to make for a more meaningful interaction.

    Brand is a complex character and he doesn’t always do this. But toying with people like this should not be applauded or championed as a healthy enfp. This actually is more like the underdeveloped and manipulating process of an enfp

  • Wlfhound

    Very interesting! As a female 47 year old ENFP I see this interview slightly differently.

    Yes…I love how he interacts with each person on a human level, not in their
    “role”. I love how he dresses authentically to his own style. I love how he addresses overarching issues and brings attention to what really is going on in these media interactions and spaces and how silly it all is,but in a humorous and kind way.

    At one point he asks a question, the male reporter starts to answer it, and Russell immediately has a “look, squirrel!” Moment and turns his back to ask about the people and computers behind him. They were allowing him to have his platform and “perform” but in real life people won’t put usually have the patience to put up with such frenetic energy and topic changes. Furthermore, a woman acting in such a way would be seen as an air headed ditz. So what I see here is an ENFP performing, being given the space and respect to go with their mental flow, and not an example of how an ENFP should conduct oneself in real life.

    But it was entertaining!

    • BB

      I found this comment extremely useful as I’m just learning about myself as an ENFP. I also agree with how a women doing this could be perceived, I’m a 30 year old actor and improviser.

      Yes I think the lovely Russell is definitely in turbo mode here… It’s amazing to see how much his behaviour has changed from all the inner work he has done over the years.

  • Erin

    Love me some Russell Brand! Oh that man. 🙂

  • Brent

    Thank you for this real life example.

    As an ENFP, I love finding those invisible bread crumb trails that others don’t see until they are brought to light. And when bolstered by your own convictions, the empowerment is amazing! Not that one should live for the feeling, it’s bringing truth to light for the benefit of those around you.

    Conversely, when you have one of those hunches but lack the conviction or that nagging doubt holds you back (some of those hunches can have devastating results if true or false and you HAVE to be right before you express them), can suck the life out of you.

  • Ess

    oh my goodness. their reactions! is it really that hard to take an ENFP?! I just love him, he rules the place!

  • Melanie Black

    This was so amazing. As a Millennial ENFP not only am I inspired by Russell’s use of Authenticity and Exploration to remain calm, direct and yet warm- but I also love that he confronted MSNBC and media in general for sensationalizing the news and not taking important issues seriously and in a way that is helpful to people.

    I am happily a mental health professional and connect with and empathize with others by meeting them wherever they are and helping them see their own authenticity. I kind of do what Russell does but on a much more intimate 1 to 1 level. I’m also usually a bit more gentle about it. At the same time I tend not to have the patience in my personal life for people who are not willing to be authentic. My husband, doesn’t understand why I am so picky with my friendships. He is a ESFJ and could probably be friends with a rock. He tends to have layers of friends with varying degrees of familiarity and authenticity and he’s perfectly fine with that. We agree to disagree. (:

    With Robin Williams we have to continue to be careful not to simplify down and say that he committed suicide because of his personality gone wrong. Depression is a serious mental illness with multifaceted causes and triggers including brain chemistry, hormones and environmental factors. I like to think about personality theory as part of a holistic view of an individual. Life and biology throw different things our way. We just have to deal with it the best we can. It is helpful for us to know more about our patterns and challenges as ENFPs so that we can set ourselves up to thrive despite illness or difficult circumstances.

  • Rachel

    As an INFP, I admire his ability to make people laugh and understand while being authentic. As a Fi dominant, I often find my expressions of authenticity to be heavy and overbearing when expressed. It’s nice to see Fi filtered through Ne.

  • Scott

    Great article Antonia 🙂

    In the above video, Russel has mastered the power of answering questions with questions, a strategy ENFP’s must learn in order to stand their own in the public sphere of character attacks and identity shaming.

    As an ENFP I empathise with the emptiness/shallowness Authenticity people feel. Thanks to much of your material I have come to the realisation that many people just aren’t Authenticity types and its not their fault!

    I now make acceptance-space for those people, while really being intentional with my NFP friendships that I have (when I need those Authenticity ‘what is the point of life’ conversations).

    My INTP brother, also my best friend, amazingly happens to be very gracious with my need for verbal processing and constant value seeking.

    While I will never consider suicide, this never ending search for authenticity and meaning has lead to me committing suicide to my ego a few times. I often wonder if all the people considering suicide would just pull the plug on their ego and go do what their heart is screaming for, what would the world look like?

    To all the ENFP’s out there, commit suicide to your ego and go follow your heart Alchemist style.

    Much love Personality Hackers 🙂

  • Heather

    My father is an ENFP and Robin William’s doppelgänger, so that death disconcerted me for personal reasons. How much do (did) they really have in common? What motivated Robin Williams, and is my father at risk for that same line of thinking?

    My father often gets defensive from feeling invalidated and marginalized, but Russell Brand, with that very same treatment, reacts differently. So, when an ENFP is confident enough in their Fi, they can be at ease and sympathetic while expressing their convictions, despite lack of respect from others? I suppose it’s a matter of utilizing Fi instead their weaker Te where they might try (clumsily) to argue their way through. Wow. What an epiphany for me.

    Come to think of it, I just inspired another ENFP friend to follow her convictions, even though it meant disagreeing with domineering and disrespectful family members. It was like watching a butterfly emerge, a glorious awakening that was a privilege to witness. She tells me again and again how empowering it was for her to exude both kindness and conviction simultaneously.

    I love that you wrote this, and hope that every ENFP who reads this comprehends just what is possible for them when they bolster their authenticity.

  • G.M.

    Absolutely epic! Bravo, Mr. Brand!

  • kalani gilkerson

    Now that was some the purest form of authenticity I’ve seen and a great display of radical honesty. from the very beginning they were openly attacking his charecter, distorting his agenda and continually trying to objectify him. I love how he held his frame and agenda and was able to display his intended message through pure authenticity. Great example of showing the style of authenticity Antonia

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