OK, MBTI fans. Here’s a real-life example of the “big picture” (N – iNtuitive) vs. “here and now” (S – Sensing) approach to bringing in information. On a much-needed long weekend in early April a few years ago, my husband Charlie and I decided to take a scenic two-mile hike through the woods to “Chipmunk Point.” (And yes, there were scads of chipmunks scampering about, some so tiny I was amazed they weren’t still curled up in a nest, eyes tightly shut. Oh, by the way, it was my iNtuitive style that noticed their size and dreamed up the whole nest thing; Charlie’s Sensing noticed their existence.)
So, I’m busy scouting out the return trail when I notice that the direction, slope and scope of the path will split about 25 yards ahead. Of course, I’m trying to decide on the high road or the low road. Coursing through my mind are all the possibilities of the two routes. The high road contains possibilities – unknown territory, potential discoveries, possible treasures – but steeper terrain. The low road offers a gentler slope, but total familiarity (translation: old news; ho-hum). The low road offers vistas of the lake, with which we are familiar (not to mention a return visit to Chipmunk Point); the high road promises a deep woods exploration, new views and, well, who knows what we’d find?
Suddenly, Charlie grabs my sleeve. “Watch out for the mud.” Oh, yeah. That would be the mud into which my foot, encased in a brand new trail shoe, was poised to drop.
And there you have it: a perfect example of the difference between iNtuition and Sensing, between those who focus on the big picture (iNtuition) vs. those who focus on details (Sensing).
Here’s my N self, moving along a path that’s unfolding in my mind as I fit together the patterns and possibilities of its meandering direction, trying to intuitively decide which branch of the trail we should take. And there’s my S husband, fully present in the details, making his way mud-free over terrain that’s present and real right then and there at that place and in that moment.
Left to my iNtuitive bent, I’d have had muddy new shoes – a bummer, for sure, but maybe of small consequence when contemplating possibilities. My Sensing husband would have had cleaner shoes but might not have put together all the new possibilities of that alternate route back.
Together, however, we accomplished both. And that may be the best example of all – Sensing and iNtuition work best when they complement one another, balancing both styles of gathering information so we get the best experience possible: in this case, to emerge from the woods with relatively clean shoes after a walk spent exploring new possibilities. Nothing could be finer!