A lot of people have asked me what the “most ambitious” Myers-Briggs® personality types are. And, as with many questions I get about type, my answer is always “it depends.” What is the ambition geared towards? Everyone is ambitious. Some people are just ambitious about creating community and connection while others are ambitious about getting the next promotion at work.
While there isn’t a single “most ambitious” personality type, each of the 16 Myers-Briggs (MBTI®) types has its own unique brand of ambition, shaped by their preferences and cognitive functions. In this article, we’re going to delve into the ambitious nature of each personality type and how they pursue their goals with passion and determination.
The Ambitious Nature of Each Myers-Briggs Type
ISTJ – The Practical Planner
Mental Wiring: Preserver (Introverted Sensing) & Manager (Extraverted Thinking)
ISTJs are logical, practical, and goal-oriented. Like most Sensing-Judging personality types, they strongly believe in their responsibility to their communities, families, and traditions. Through hard work and logistical planning, they hope to create a sense of security and stability in the world. For the ISTJ, ambition is about having a place of expertise to contribute and being useful and reliable in a community they value.
Secret Side: While on the outside ISTJs appear dutiful, reserved, and pragmatic, they have a sentimental inner core. They have rich inner emotions that they will often push to the side when a task needs to be done. But when they’re alone, they often delve into their emotions and consider their values; what matters to them on a big-picture level. When motivated by their values, they have a deep drive to make the world a better place and set up foundations for traditions that are meaningful to them.
Find out more about ISTJs: 21 Hobbies That ISTJs Love
ISFJ – The Compassionate Goal-Setter
Mental Wiring: Preserver (Introverted Sensing) & Harmonizer (Extraverted Feeling)
ISFJs are driven by their deep sense of responsibility to others and a desire to make a positive impact in their communities. Their ambition manifests in their devotion to providing support and emotional care for those around them, as well as striving for stability and a sense of home and hearth. Friendliness and sympathy characterize ISFJs’ ambition, which is motivated by a desire to create more nurturing and supportive communities.
Inner Core: Behind the ISFJ’s altruistic, gentle demeanor is an analytical core. ISFJs enjoy figuring out the in’s and out’s of how people work and often know everything about the inner workings of a specific skill set. It’s not uncommon to find an ISFJ who knows all about the components of a psychological theory, the categorization of plants, or the technical aspects of a craft.
INFJ – The Visionary Dreamer
Mental Wiring: Visionary (Introverted Intuition) and Harmonizer (Extraverted Feeling)
INFJs are driven by their desire to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the world. They are passionate about their ideals, and dream of a future where meaning matters more than material wealth. Their ambition lies in their relentless pursuit to translate their far-reaching insights into practical solutions that can bring about real change and inspire others. INFJs are often seen as highly idealistic, but they have a fierce determination to manifest their visions into reality. Through cooperation and empathy, they strive to bring out the best in themselves and the people around them.
Inner Core: While INFJs may appear dreamy and distant, they actually have an incredibly analytical mind. They take in information from the world around them and store it away for later analysis. This helps them form well-thought-out plans and depth of understanding. It’s fairly common for people to get distracted by the warmth and empathy of the INFJ and not realize that they have a deep well of knowledge about very specific theories or spiritual truths.
Find out more about INFJs: 24 Signs You’re an INFJ, the Mystic Personality Type
INTJ – The Strategic Mastermind
Mental Wiring: Visionary (Introverted Intuition) and Manager (Extraverted Thinking)
INTJs are goal-oriented and analytical, with a strong drive for continuous improvement. Their ambition is fueled by their love of knowledge and their desire to apply their intellect to create long-lasting, efficient systems and strategies that stand the test of time. Their worst fear is to be incompetent, and so they don’t take failure lightly. They want to master whatever they set their minds to and strive to have control over their own lives and resources.
Inner Core: Somewhat paradoxically, INTJs have an inner sentimental core. Although they appear logical and stoic on the outside, they carry a deep emotional well of creativity, conviction, and deep-seated values that drive them. They are rarely dissuaded from their convictions and are often outspoken for causes that are dear to their heart.
Find out more about INTJs: The Childhood Struggles of INTJs
ISTP – The Self-Sufficient Problem Solver
Mental Wiring: Engineer (Ti) and Experiencer (Se)
Ambition for the ISTP is often found in the pursuit of freedom, mental clarity, and independence. These types want the space to react to whatever is going on in the moment while being able to analyze and understand the physical world and have mastery over it. ISTPs need mental room to piece apart ideas or understand how things work; but they also need physical room to seize opportunities, be spontaneous, and experience the raw beauty and wonder of life.
Secret Side: ISTPs crave autonomy and independence, but they also crave a few long-standing relationships. While they may appear ruggedly individualistic on the surface, deep down ISTPs want friendships and may feel uncertain when trying to establish these relationships. They have a powerful inner core of caring and loyalty that often gets overlooked because of their outward expression of stoicism.
Discover more about ISTPs: 24 Signs That You’re an ISTP, the Vigilante Personality Type
ISFP – The Artistic Trailblazer
Mental Wiring: Authenticator (Introverted Feeling) and Experiencer (Extraverted Sensing)
ISFPs are motivated by a desire to express themselves and their ideas or values. As virtuosos, they seek to make an impact on the world through artistic endeavors and creative self-expression. They prefer to take a hands-on approach to life and often become deeply invested in the creative process, paying attention to every detail. Simultaneously, they enjoy exploring the natural beauties and wonders of life and often have an adventurous streak that shows up in their travel choices, personal style, or leisure activities.
Secret Side: What less people know about ISFPs is that they have a mystical or spiritual side that can show up in their fascination with spiritual practice, philosophy, or exploring the unknown. It’s not uncommon to find ISFPs who know everything about tarot cards, Eastern mysticism, or even stoic philosophies. What the ISFP is drawn to will largely depend on their personal values and beliefs.
Discover more about ISFPs: 24 Signs That You’re an ISFP, the Virtuoso Personality Type
INFP – The Idealistic Crusader
Mental Wiring: Authenticator (Fi) and Connector (Ne)
The INFP’s ambition lies in their unwavering belief in the power of individual action and their passion for creative self-expression. These types live with conviction and strive for meaning, purpose, and a unique identity. Many INFPs harness their rich imagination and inner emotional world to create art, write stories, or help out for a cause they believe in. Many of our best authors (George Orwell, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare) were INFPs!
The Secret Side: INFPs may seem primarily focused on future possibilities, but they also have a sentimental tie to the past that many people rarely talk about. They hold tightly to memories, rituals, and traditions that have made a special impact on them. Many INFPs are deeply attached to objects, songs, poems, or other sentimental items that remind them of very particular moments in time and keep those moments with them always.
Discover more about INFPs: 24 Signs That You’re an INFP, the Dreamer Personality Type
INTP – The Intellectual Architect
Mental Wiring: Engineer (Ti) and Connector (Ne)
INTPs are driven by their thirst for knowledge and a love of intellectual challenge. Their ambition is found in their pursuit of mastery over complex and abstract concepts. They are constantly pushing their boundaries of understanding and devising new and innovative ways of approaching challenges. INTPs have a love of truth and a hunger for progress and scientific inquiry; they often find themselves absorbed in a theory or some complex research that would be overwhelming to many other individuals.
The Secret Side: INTPs may seem detached and analytical, stuck in their own heads, but they also deeply crave connections with a few select others. INTPs love emotional warmth and connection once they reach a level of trust with someone; and they often are very sentimental about the people in their lives, holding onto mementos or special objects that remind them of their loved ones.
Find out more about INTPs: The Dark Side of the ENTP Personality Type
ESTP – The Energetic Entrepreneur
Mental Wiring: Experiencer (Se) and Engineer (Ti)
ESTPs are adventurous, analytical, and competitive. For them, ambition is about taking advantages of opportunities that arise in the moment. They are quick to key into a situation or conversation and leverage it for their own gain, be that financial, social, or physical. Tapping into the moment and experiencing all life has to offer in the “now” drives them. Whatever they do, they bring an element of fun into it. You only live once and ESTPs are going to make the most of it!
Secret Side: Although ESTPs can seem very blunt and straightforward, they are actually somewhat sensitive socially. They crave warm connections with others and can become very emotionally invested in those relationships. They like being helpers when a friend needs practical support, and they love being able to save the day when something goes awry.
ESFP – The Entertaining Achiever
Mental Wiring: Experiencer (Se) and Authenticator (Fi)
ESFPs are motivated by their love for liveliness, connection, and novel experiences. They are energetic and enthusiastic, with an ambition to soak in all the beauty and possibility of the moment. They have a special talent for connecting with others, reacting quickly to opportunities, and making their environment more immersive and enjoyable. Mindful of the moment, for ESFPs ambition is about staying present and doing something meaningful and personally gratifying with each minute.
The Secret Side: ESFPs are not just all about fun and games. They also possess a determined and capable side that allows them to make bursts of productivity in pursuit of their goals. They are not afraid to speak up against injustice and stand up for what they believe in. Additionally, they have a strong-willed and independent nature that drives them to do things in their own unique way.
ENFP – The Charismatic Visionary
Mental Wiring: Connector (Ne) and Authenticator (Fi)
ENFPs are driven by their insatiable curiosity, creative energy, and enthusiasm for possibility. They have a deep passion for ideas, people, and the potential futures they could create. Rather than sticking with the status quo, ENFPs are constantly innovating and creating groundbreaking ways to approach any challenge. They strive to make the world a better place by pursuing their creative visions and looking for meaning over money. Ambition for an ENFP means the freedom to be themselves, pursue their ideals, and live an authentic and purposeful life.
The Secret Side: Though ENFPs may appear outgoing and extroverted at first glance, they have an equally strong introspective side to them. ENFPs are driven by their values and personal beliefs, and they need time alone to reflect on who they are and what matters most to them. They crave meaningful relationships with a few select people where they can share deep conversations about life’s big questions. Additionally, ENFPs can become deeply invested in causes that evoke strong emotional reactions. They are often the champions for causes they believe in, fiercely determined to make a positive difference in the world.
Find out more about ENFPs: 24 Signs That You’re an ENFP, The Visionary Personality Type
ENTP – The Thinking Innovator
Mental Wiring: Connector (Ne) and Engineer (Ti)
ENTPs are intellectual adventurers, driven by ambitious curiosity. They have a passion for knowledge and exploring new concepts, ideas, and possibilities. Taking ideas and theories apart to understand how they work is a favorite pastime for ENTPs. Often they use their outside-the-box ideas to come up with business ventures or lifestyle changes that are revolutionary in nature. Ambition for ENTPs lies in intellectual freedom and the space to explore possibilities without being limited by narrow-minded, traditional, or illogical thinking.
The Secret Side: Although ENTPs may seem independent and self-sufficient, they actually need close relationships to thrive. They are very passionate about the people in their lives, and they cherish those connections deeply. They also have a knack for understanding other’s feelings, as well as their own. When it comes to talking about emotions, ENTPs can offer valuable insights and thoughtful perspectives. Additionally, ENTPs can be surprisingly sentimental when it comes to moments that stir up strong feelings.
ENFJ – The Charismatic Guardian
Mental Wiring: Harmonizer (Fe) and Visionary (Ni)
ENFJs are warm-hearted and empathetic people, driven by a strong desire to catalyze people towards their ultimate potential. They have an incredible ability to build deep connections with others, and they strive to create a positive environment where everyone can thrive. ENFJs are often mentors or counselors due to their knack for understanding people and providing them with the support they need to reach their goals. They have a deep sense of empathy that allows them to understand the innermost feelings of those around them, but also makes it hard for them to detach themselves from others’ pain. Ambition for the ENFJ is about finding fellow travelers to walk the road of life with and create potentials that would only be possible with those intimate companions. Ambition is about forging intimacy, fostering personal growth, and living according to deeply-held values.
The Secret Side: ENFJs may come off as social butterflies, but they also need plenty of alone time to reflect on insights, patterns, and implications. As intuitives, ENFJs can often sense the underlying meanings of conversations and events. But they need time alone to process those meanings as well as tune into their own individual thoughts and feelings. Often during alone time ENFJs delve into the more logical, analytical side of themselves, and this can help them to make more balanced decisions.
Discover more about ENFJs: A Look Inside the ENFJ Mind
ENTJ – The Strategic Director
Mental Wiring: Manager (Te) and Visionary (Ni)
ENTJs are natural-born strategists, with a desire to achieve far-reaching goals. They have an eye for spotting patterns and trends in their environment, and they don’t mind putting in the grit and hard work to trailblaze a new path. For ENTJs, ambition is about achieving goals quickly and managing resources well while staying aligned with convictions that matter to them. As competitive types, they are often drawn towards the next hurdle or the next benchmark that will require a greater deal of knowledge and competency to achieve. Life is a process of continual growth and they adore the challenge in it.
The Secret Side: Despite their reputation as strong-willed and independent, ENTJs are often driven by a sensitive inner core. It’s common for even the most calculating and tough-minded ENTJs to have a soft spot for some person or cause. They may be all about business and productivity in the workplace, but help out at a soup kitchen on the weekends or cry over movies where the dog dies (we’re looking at you, John Wick).
ESFJ – The Caring Contributor
Mental Wiring: Harmonizer (Fe) Preserver (Si)
ESFJs are deeply in tune with the emotions of those around them. They thrive on nurturing connections and providing support for others. ESFJs are often happiest when helping others to succeed, whether that’s a friend or coworker in need of advice, or someone looking for emotional support. Ambition for this type lies in preserving their communities, cultivating meaningful traditions, and creating a sense of harmony and unity.
The Secret Side: Despite their extroverted nature, ESFJs can become overwhelmed with too much input from the outside world. Lots of noise, chaos, and sensory overload can feel de-stabilizing to an ESFJ. When this happens, it’s important for them to step back and allow their minds to recuperate in solitude. During this time, an ESFJ can reconnect with their inner values and comforting pastimes, so that they come back with more energy and purpose.
ESTJ – The Practical Supervisor
Mental Wiring: Manager (Te) and Preserver (Si)
ESTJs are strong-willed, driven individuals who have a knack at being in charge and getting things done. They are highly organized and work hard to ensure that their teams have what they need to succeed. For the ESTJ, ambition is about achieving goals and preserving their communities and traditions. Sometimes this means taking on political roles for the betterment of their city, at other times it means managing logistics in a business setting to earn more money to provide for one’s family.
The Secret Side: Behind their tough, no-nonsense demeanor, ESTJs (like ENTJs) have a more sensitive inner core. They are especially touched by stories of underdogs or people who are overlooked. When they come across someone in genuine need of help or support, ESTJs often go out of their way to give them a hand, even when no one else is looking. While they may keep their feelings close to the chest, ESTJs are often compassionate people who show their affection through actions.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you resonate with the description of your type? Do you have any input or stories to share with other readers? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Understanding Yourself and Others™ Exploring Essential Motivators™ by Linda V. Berens, InterStrength Press (2019)
Understanding Yourself and Others™ An Introduction to the Personality Type Code by Linda V. Berens, InterStrength Press (2004)