Q: Dear Julie, I’m in charge of leading a class, and I’m freaking out over the details of setup and structure. My anxiety levels are through the roof and I can barely breathe. I’m scared people won’t take the class or will drop out. I’m scared I’ll have to badger people do to their work or my class will fail. I don’t want to keep being this tense. What can I do? ~INFP
A: As an INFP, your potential superpower comes from your combination of first and second (dominant and auxiliary) Functions, Fi (values) and Ne (creativity), which allows you to create new possibilities based on your strong moral compass. This combination helped you conceive the idea for your class and will help you be a great group leader, bringing out the potential for betterment in the students.
However, the structural Te needed to organize the group is in the inferior fourth position of your Function Family, so that part is stressing you out. It’s a very necessary part though! Proper structure and attention to details and preparation will help your class succeed. You will walk into the class feeling confident, and your students will see your organization and have confidence in you.
The trick to using an inferior Te is to approach it through your other functions. If you go straight to your inexperienced Te, she freaks out because she doesn’t know how to handle your request. She needs to take direction from the functions above her.
This is what I call the Function Flow. Using your functions in the order natural to your personality helps things run more smoothly. The order of your functions as an INFP is: Fi, Ne, Si, Te. Let’s look at how you might step through them one-by-one to get to “the details of setup and structure.”
Fi: Ask yourself: What are my values, what is the higher purpose and meaning of this class? Get clear on your greater purpose in teaching this class, and then always keep it in mind above all else.
Ne: Ask yourself: What are the positive possibilities I envision for this class? For example, the class starting up as smoothly as possible, everyone following through on their responsibilities and learning a lot, your own ability to adapt to the realities and inconveniences that come up.
Si: Now you can ask yourself: What details are required to make all of these possibilities unfold smoothly? Go through your envisioned possibilities from Ne, and make a list of every detail you can think of that might help or hinder the realization of your vision. Definitely reach out for help from others to think of things that you might be leaving out, especially if you’re working on a new sort of project. It’s best to engage Si at the very beginning of the process, when you first think of teaching a course. If you talk to her a few days before the course launches, she’s likely to punch you in the gut and walk away.
Te: Now you are clear on your values, your possibilities, and the details required to realize them. You can hand all this directly to Te and she’s set to go! With all this guidance, she’ll be able to jump into gear and design a structure and a plan for getting things done. She’ll want to get started right away and it’s best to listen to her. Delegate as much as possible, leave way more time for Te to do her thing than Ne thinks it should take, and ask others with Te higher in their function flow for guidance. Along the way, note what is working and what is helping for future use.
Your Fi/Ne like to engage in the flow of the experience as it unfolds, so they will absolutely put off details and structure till the last minute. Si/Te don’t work well at the last minute, especially when they are undeveloped and lack training. Waiting until the day/week before a big project guarantees unnecessary stress, urgency, and anxiety. Te will run around yelling that the sky is falling. Si will abandon you to your procrastination. Ne will start thinking worst case scenarios, and Fi will doubt herself.
Whenever it gets too stressful as you work with the lower functions, Si and Te, come back to your higher functions, Fi and Ne. Remind yourself, What is the higher purpose, What are the positive possibilities. Reset your thinking and create a space to allow your strong Fi/Ne to support your weaker Si/Te — then all of you will have room to breathe!