When one hears the word “protagonist,” the first definition that comes to mind is the lead actor/character of a film, novel, or story, and a simple Google search will concur with this. However, the protagonist’s personality is a bit more complex than this. The work of the highly influential Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung provided the foundation for the mother-daughter duo Kathereine Briggs and Isabel Myer’s personality test, commonly known as the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) (Kennerly, 2021).
The purpose of the MBTI is to help individuals assess and understand their personality, achieve a deeper understanding of themselves, and ultimately, provide a helping hand for individuals to self-actualize (Kennerly, 2012). Myers-Briggs identifies four main personality types, which are further subdivided into four sub-types, totaling sixteen different personality types. For the sake of this article, let us focus on the protagonist ENFJ personality type, delve deeper into the values and motivations of a typical protagonist, explore strengths and weaknesses, as well as finding what career possibilities exist out there for this specific personality type.
ENFJ or Protagonist Personality Type
The acronym ENFJ translates to extraversion, intuition, feeling, and judgment as described by Myers-Briggs as an individual who, essentially is a social butterfly with a “big-picture” focused mind, makes decisions based on emotions and value systems, and who prefers order over disorder (Boring-Bray, 2021). ENFJ’s typically enjoy socializing and interacting with others, so it is more likely that they would have a wide circle of friends. Their intuition allows them to see things in their entirety and, in turn, motivates them to honestly try to bring about change in this world. Due to their strong intuitive nature, ENFJ’s tend to be creative, abstract thinkers who are less concerned with the “here and now” and more concerned with the future. Due to their ability to intuitively sense the emotions of others surrounding them, they can intelligently read through any social situation they may find themselves in.
This personality type usually considers the feelings of others before making decisions out of fear of social tension, rather than using cold logic to determine their decisions, as ENFJ’s are sensitive to the emotions of others and therefore tend to be highly empathetic. When it comes to judgment, ENFJ’s act quickly and swiftly as they are always prepared planners who enjoy control. Only about two-five percent of the world’s population fit this personality type, making the protagonist personality a real rare breed (Boring-Bray, 2021).
Combining their unique character traits allows the protagonists to be deeply insightful and have a good sense of social intelligence. Their ability to place themselves in the shoes of others allows them to understand the perspective of others clearly. In turn, this allows them to handle a situation with the necessary caution/ sensitivity that it may require. This, alongside the fact that they can intuitively sense the emotions of others, allows the protagonist’s personality to respond/ communicate more effectively.
Protagonists are also quite persuasive too when it comes to the things they are passionate about, and this is due to their constant “big picture” kind of thinking. Since they are very likable characters, it is easier for them to win over a crowd or sway public opinion. Overall they are fun beings to be around since they usually have a great sense of humor and enjoy interacting with others, making the protagonist the perfect leader. Get it? They are the main characters, after all!
The Values and Motivations of Protagonists
This personality type is typically altruistic and empathetic, which allows them to feel genuine concern for the people around them and motivates them to become the drivers of change (Owens, 2021). Since they are emotionally sensitive beings due to their intuitive nature, they tend to assume a compassionate humanitarian stance and, therefore, further compelling them to act on the suffering of others surrounding them (Owens, 2021). They may have a large number of friends. However, protagonists highly value close and deep connections between themselves and others since they believe that actual change can be brought about through a collective voice rather than their own standalone voice (Owens, 2021). Hence, this personality type will tend to work exceptionally hard at maintaining and nurturing close relationships and, in turn, become valuable members of the lives of those whom they associate with.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Protagonists
Protagonists tend to be tolerant, reliable, organized, charismatic, and natural leaders (16Personalities, 2021). Their tolerance comes from them being able to listen and accept the opinions of others and, more importantly, being able to recognize and rectify their wrongs and contradictions, making them true team players. They are reliable in the sense that they dislike disappointing the people they value and, as far as possible, will always strive to honor their word. The protagonist personality type expends a lot of time planning and preparing everything in their lives, and this is due to their need to control as much as possible. This also plays into their confidence. The confidence in knowing that everything is under control. Their charisma comes from their social intelligence and general love for socializing, so it is no surprise that the protagonist would dominate the social arena.
However, due to the nature of their being, they do fall short in some noticeable areas. Protagonists tend to be at the extreme ends of idealism, selflessness, and sensitivity (16Personalities, 2021). EFNJ’s also tend to struggle with self-esteem fluctuations and making tough decisions (16Personalities, 2021). They tend to be overly idealistic in terms of their expectations regarding the change they are motivated to achieve. This could result from their deep feelings of empathy and compassion they can feel for those around them or their focus on achieving large-scale change.
Protagonists can also become too selfless, to the point of neglecting themselves to put the needs and wants of others first. They are also highly sensitive to the opinions and feedback are given to them by others, whether it may be good or bad, as they are always striving towards becoming the best versions of themselves and therefore can become “too obsessed” with what others think of them. For this specific reason, protagonists also suffer from fluctuating self-esteem since they tend to base their personal values on whether or not they can live up to the expectations and opinions of others around them. Although protagonists are usually quick and confident in their decisions, unfortunately, they do not fare well when making tough decisions.
Protagonists usually struggle with tough decisions since they incorporate both logic and emotions into their decision-making, leading them to end up “between a rock and a hard place.” The reason for this, again, they would hate to disappoint a person of value to them and would hate it even more if their final decision impacts those around them negatively. In essence, being the ultimate humanitarian might be great to be around since they have the power to do great things; they are still, however, plagued by many things beyond their personal control. Additionally, due to the value the protagonists place on planning and preparing, they do not like being caught off guard or not knowing what to do in a particular situation. The uncertainty of not knowing what to do or how to act in a particular situation can cause the protagonist’s personality in an anxiety-fueled spiral. The reason for this is due to this personality type enjoying a sense of control.
Different Career Options for Protagonists
The best-suited options for protagonists are careers that involve working closely with others since they enjoy being social and are at their best when they can positively affect the lives of those surrounding them. Based on this, careers such as becoming a sales manager would be relatively easy for this personality type since they are individuals who will not have any issues with building a clientele base, making them highly competitive in this regard (Indeed, 2021). Since they value building relationships with others, there is no doubt that they will be able to fully adopt a customer-centric attitude when dealing with clients, allowing them to excel in a sales career.
Due to their diplomatic nature, they also flourish in leadership roles as well as mentorship roles. Therefore career roles such as teaching, guidance counseling, or even leading in the political/social sphere would be a great playing field for protagonists, as this role plays well to their strengths (Indeed, 2021). Since the protagonist values the opinions of others and is always looking to self-improve, they are better able to listen and understand others and translate knowledge to their specific audiences, therefore making them great teachers. Due to their ability to think abstractly, swift decision making, and their constant concern for the future, they would make great political and social leaders since they have individuals who can see things in their entirety, as well as taking into consideration all perspectives when making big decisions, making them perfect for this type of career. Additionally, it is easy for them to achieve unwavering support from the public since they are intuitively set to make the world a better place thanks to their empathy.
It is no secret that you will naturally excel in it once you are intrigued/admire something. This is true for the protagonist personality type in terms of their peculiar interest in the arts. Therefore protagonists should consider a career as an art director since they can interpret and understand the preferences of the masses (Indeed, 2021). The protagonist’s natural teaching and communication skills will also come in handy when pitching ideas to clients.
Protagonists are also charming and easy to relate to, making them the perfect candidates for a human resources director (Indeed, 2021). There is no doubt that protagonists will excel at tasks like making the workplace more comfortable and maintaining productivity since they are in tune with people’s needs and their intuitive feelings concerning the emotions of others and, in turn, makes them excellent communicators.
Protagonists are altruistic, socially warm, and attractive personalities focused on making the world a better place for all to enjoy. This, alongside the fact that they are charming, reliable, and great leaders, allows others who surround them to be inspired to be more like them. Their ability to correct themselves when they are wrong or change their perspective once they recognize self-contradiction allows them to be flexible in their opinions. It will always grow from strength to strength. The value they place on the opinions of others and how they are perceived ensures that they honor their word. . However, as much as these are the strengths of the protagonist personality, it could also cause their downfall since they are always susceptible to the trap of “caring too much,” often resulting in spreading themselves too thin for example. Their high sensitivity to the opinions of others can lead to negative emotions towards themselves, affecting their self-esteem. Their excessive selflessness attitude can prove detrimental and, to a certain extent, slightly self-destructive, all in the name of (consciously or unconsciously) striving to be the ultimate humanitarian.
In terms of career choices for the protagonist personality type, playing to their strengths such as their ability to relate to others easily, ability to be empathetic, their deep sense of altruism, and their ability to think abstractly would be most recommended, as these are the things they excel at and seem to have the natural capability for. Their diplomatic nature and need for order make them perfect candidates for leading in a public sphere. Their general caring, confidence, and loving nature play into their appeal of being the most attractive in the crowd, no matter the type of crowd they may find themselves in.
- BibliographyBoring-Bray, W., 2021. ENFJ Personality Type: The Protagonist | Betterhelp. [online] Betterhelp.com. Available at: <https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality/enfj-personality-type-the-protagonist/> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
- Dallas, M., 2021. How Psychologist Carl Jung Described Our Personality Types. [online] Truity. Available at: <https://www.truity.com/blog/how-psychologist-carl-jung-described-our-personality-types> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
- Kennerly, A., 2021. ENFJ “The Protagonist” Personality Type – Meaning, Traits, Functions. [online] The Career Project. Available at: <https://www.thecareerproject.org/blog/enfj/> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
- Owens, M., 2021. All About the ENFJ Personality Type. [online] Truity. Available at: <https://www.truity.com/personality-type/ENFJ> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
- Indeed.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/best-careers-for-enfj-personalities> [Accessed 20 April 2021].
- 16Personalities. 2021. Strengths & Weaknesses | Protagonist (ENFJ) Personality | 16Personalities. [online] Available at: <https://www.16personalities.com/enfj-strengths-and-weaknesses> [Accessed 20 April 2021].