OKA’s Type Development Series, Volume 4–The Possibilites of Sensing

OKA’s Focus is Type Development

Too much energy is devoted to simple MBTI testing and not enough to individual Type validation—independent of what the assessment reports, what is your true Type?  But less energy still is spent on the most important effort at hand, which is the development of my Type—in light of my preferences, how do I gain greater awareness and then even comfort and skill with all the functions—even those I don’t prefer?

OKA’s primary focus regarding Type has become training and supporting the development of Type—not only discovering what your Type is but how you can be more effective in your life, work and relationships using Type.

What is Type Development?

Jung said that Sensing tells us that something IS, Thinking tells us WHAT it is, Feeling gives it value, and iNtuition gives it meaning.

So much surrounding Type emphasizes the preference for one end of a dichotomy over its opposite, but Type theory is actually a holistic theory of human cognitive development that illuminates the path we are each most likely to follow as we experience, develop, and ultimately build toward comfort and skill with all four cognitive functions (S, N, T and F). Type theory suggests that our Type preferences are hard-wired and unchanging, but our Type development—the degree to which we can access and the skill with which we use all the elements of Type—is continually changing, and hopefully increasing.

Sometimes an individual or organization’s Type development—good or bad—leads to predictable outcomes and observable behaviors that can signify Type development successes and challenges. It is important to note the positive—indeed essential—qualities for effective individual and organizational life that each function provides. Sometimes the underdevelopment of a function can block us from even seeing the value or even the existence of that function. A great first step in any Type development effort is to establish the existence and the value of each of the functions and their respective, unique contributions.

What are the possibilities of Sensing?

The Sensing function helps us face the facts and be realistic. It tells us exactly what the situation is and what is being done about it. Sensing works against wishful thinking or sentiment that may obscure what is. It can tell us what is happening right now or what has happened in the past. Sensing is concrete, realistic, practical, and experiential.

Individuals with well-developed Sensing tend to be:

  • Attentive to and energized by sensate, immediate experience
  • History aware, data-rich, and informed
  • Curious about what has happened and what is going on now
  • Practical and realistic
  • Detailed, literal and specific when they speak

Organizations with well-developed Sensing tend to have:

  • Realistic, practical, and historically informed policies and procedures
  • A steadying sense of tradition (if introverted Sensing)
  • An attentive and adaptable practical engagement to streaming problems and ever-changing client or project demands (if extraverted Sensing)
  • A concern for tactics and process (the how’s of a project or effort)
  • Vision and strategy—assuming they have them at all—kept within the boundaries of reality and an implementable check-list

Individuals with under-developed Sensing tend to be:

  • Unobservant
  • Generally ignorant of detail, specifics, and chronology
  • Uncomfortable with real world, sensual experience
  • Unrealistic and impractical
  • Disconnected from their physical bodies and the realities of pain, discomfort, hunger, et cetera—unnecessarily diminishing or overplaying these events

Organizations with under-developed Sensing tend to have:

  • Decisions and policies ignorant—or even disdainful—of history and past experience
  • General inattention to detail
  • A lack of care/concern for the specifics of deals, agreements, and contracts
  • Unrealistic or impractical goals and strategies
  • An inability to shift from high level strategy and vision to tactical action

The following are ideas to use in helping individuals improve access and skill with the Sensing function:

  • Describe in detail the facts of various situations
  • List the unshakable facts, the realities that are beyond dispute
  • Be specific about the data you have, such as sales or production figures, costs, market share, verbal reports, and your own observations
  • Balance you checkbook and/or pull a detailed report together
  • Reflect on the chronology of an event or project
  • Take a walk and focus specifically on the temperature, the smells in the air, the sounds—how many different animal sounds, machine sounds, sounds you make can you identify (the exercise is the experience, not the counting or cataloging)
  • Eat a meal and focus on the different tastes—can you discern the specific ingredients and spices?


Next Steps:

To learn more about Type Development and the willful activation of all your type preferences, take OKA’s Type Development for the Professional Practitioner. OKA’s new experiential two-day course, designed and delivered by Hile Rutledge, is perfect for anyone interested in putting Type or the MBTI to practical use. In addition, in the spring of 2014 OKA will publish Hile Rutledge’s new Type Development Workbook, the latest in OKA’s series of trainer and practitioner support tools.

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