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The place of the SJ in a start-up

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I love SJs.  They are the “Sensory Judgers” on the Myers/Briggs Personality Indicator and make up 40% of the American population. I’m a dreamer and need people who can take the dreams and turn them into reality, which usually means SJs. They are practical, concerned with today’s reality a…
By Seth Barnes

wordsI love SJs.  They are the “Sensory Judgers” on the Myers/Briggs Personality Indicator and make up 40% of the American population.

I’m a dreamer and need people who can take the dreams and turn them into reality, which usually means SJs. They are practical, concerned with today’s reality as opposed to tomorrow’s possibility.
 
Also known as the conscientious temperament on the DISC or the “Beaver” in Leading from Your Strengths test, SJs are the ones who tend to roll their eyes when a salesperson makes promises.
Now, I’m going to bring up an issue, but want to do so in a way that doesn’t convey judgment. Sometimes, SJs want to apply their standard of integrity to everyone else. They can seem hyper-critical if they aren’t self-aware. I’ve seen SJs  who are engineers drive their wives to drink with their black-and-white opinions.

Jesus had to deal with people’s temperament-based issues all the time. Would-be disciples would come to Jesus, proclaim their loyalty, but insist on the priority of their prior commitments. Jesus wasn’t impressed. When Jesus asked how they were going to feed the crowd, Phillip (probably an SJ) did the calculations and gave the realistic response that was the opposite of the one Jesus was looking for.

The world wouldn’t work without SJs. They are guardians of systems that make the world go round. They make great teachers, bankers, and bureaucrats. But there is one place that should be a no-fly zone for most SJs: a new start-up. 
 
Start-ups are messy affairs. The typical entrepreneur perceives a need in the marketplace, scribbles a plan on the back of a napkin, recruits his team, and begins to create something out of nothing. For an extreme SJ, this is crazy behavior.

In all my start-ups, I’m sure I’ve frustrated the SJs involved. When I started AIM, my SJ teammates regularly wanted to quit. Each time I’ve launched ministries, I’ve had SJs involved, but have watched them struggle with all of the changes. Sometimes only their sense of integrity and commitment keeps them going.

Currently, I have a couple of SJs in a start-up who are struggling to get over the messiness of the development phase. My mistake was not giving a clear understanding of the ambiguity involved in the launch. I should have posted a sign, “WARNING: Life will change all the time around here. Learn to love it.”

Can SJs thrive in a start-up? Yes, if they’ve had good clear conversations in advance and a good leader to call them on their tendency to become critical or to whine. And it helps if they’ve seen a few start-ups before.

Otherwise, it may be better to invite them to the table only after more of their questions can be answered.

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