The Courageous Adventurer (ISFP) | 16Personalities (2023)

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”

Bravery in Its Many Guises

The definition of bravery is not as easy to nail down as one might imagine. As we’ll discover, Adventurers (ISFPs) can be particularly hard to define through that lens, and their courage and fears make them complex and, in some ways, fragile.

In this exploration of Adventurer personalities, we’re starting with some basic ideas, which you can find more fully discussed at the beginning of our “Courageous Advocate (INFJ)” article. Courage is the product of fear. Without fear to overcome, we don’t need courage. Bravery and fear are two sides of the same coin.

Nobody has a fixed amount of courage. Bravery is always in flux and situational. Like a muscle in the human body, we can bulk up our courage with proper exercise. Each act of bravery, theoretically, works the courage muscle and allows it to grow. Courage can also atrophy when we don’t occasionally push against some strenuous challenges.

To become braver, we must first be brave more often – which sounds obvious but has some potentially perplexing chicken-and-egg qualities. Which comes first?

The Adventurer Stereotype

Typically, we perceive Adventurer personality types as unconventional people who often turn traditional concepts on their head. We include the likes of Frida Kahlo and Michael Jackson in this group, neither of whom toed the line of tradition in their cultures. Both stepped out audaciously, almost defiantly. However, all that defiance seemed to carry with it a great deal of vulnerability and fear as well. Of course, Adventurers are not all artists and pop stars. Few of them likely are, but unconventional behavior doesn’t only belong to those with fame and a performance platform.

In our research, Adventurers are the least likely personality type to say they consider themselves brave. Adventurers may appear fearless to those who live more conventional lives, but to those audacious Adventurers, it could be simply another Tuesday. In other words, self-perception may not always be accurate or in line with how others view us. The possibility exists that many Adventurers are braver than they suppose.

Adventurers may experience a conflict between their sensitivity and their bolder impulses. Or perhaps this dynamic is more of a paradox than a conflict – both characteristics take up space simultaneously within the Adventurer. Could it be possible that the tension between the two attitudes is the ingredient that shapes their lives in such compelling ways?

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The view that most of us have of Adventurer personalities may be somewhat romanticized. Who doesn’t love the idea of a creative bohemian wandering about expressing themselves exactly as they wish? Depending on your perspective, the practical implications of the bohemian lifestyle may or may not be attractive. Still, on a romantic level, the journey of a free-spirited life makes an appealing story.

The truth is, while some Adventurers wander further from the norm than others, none escape their human fears, worries, and problems entirely. We may put too much of a burden on the Adventurer personality type with images that are more the product of legend than reality.

Adventurers’ traits likely make them freer and more willing to attempt creative approaches, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that these personalities aren’t afraid of being abandoned or that they don’t fear the consequences of a risky move gone bad. Their sensitivity may even magnify these fears.

But the mention of magnified apprehension may make this a good place to remember that courage can only exist in the presence of fear.

Courage, Research, and Adventurers

The survey results from our research tend to highlight the more cautious aspects of Adventurers. They were the least likely of all Prospecting personality types to say they take risks without thinking about consequences, placing well below the average of all 16 types. While considering what might happen if a person takes a risk is probably a good quality to have, the degree to which this is true might also measure how much caution is involved in the decision. (That said, the research suggests that this result is likely more about being an Introvertthan an Adventurer.)

Adventurers share the top spot in saying they prefer short-term risks with low rewards (64% agreeing, compared to an average of 47%) over long-term risks with high rewards (36% agreeing, compared to an average of 53%).

Many of Adventurers’ fears are linked directly or indirectly with social concerns. Like most Introverted personalities with the Feeling trait, these warm individuals are concerned with the quality of their relationships – those being rare and precious commodities to them. Adventurers are more likely to worry about whether the people in their lives will remain and whether the quality of their relationships will continue to be high.

Are the influences of others holding you back? How much is under your control? Take our Locus of Control Test to find out.

Adventurers were also significantly above average in saying that the fear of failure is the biggest thing that stops them from acting (80% agreeing, compared to an average of 67%). It may be interesting to note that a majority of respondents, from all 16 personality types, indicated that they were hindered by the fear of failure, making it a common problem. Despite that perspective, the percentage of Adventurers agreeing easily exceeded most other types in this poll. Also, Adventurers are more likely than most to admit that they have fears that they know are irrational. So it’s reasonable to question whether at least some of their fear of failure lacks a realistic foundation.

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So, does this negate the portrayal of Adventurers as free spirits? As we often do when discussing personality types, we must think in terms of degrees and tendencies. In the chart above, we see that Adventurers are among the most likely personalities to say that their last major risk was within the last 30 days. That would seem to indicate that they lean toward taking risks more often than most. But it wouldn’t be accurate to say that they throw caution to the wind.

Some Adventurers express themselves more freely than others. For many, a hint of the unconventional, suppressed perhaps by a stricter culture or other factors, may be evident. These Adventurers may be known for something as tame as occasional off-the-wall quips around the workplace. Then, other Adventurers grow up to become Britney Spears or Avril Lavigne.

The research also gives a few clues into the areas where Adventurers may be willing to take more risks. For example, they’re slightly more likely than average to describe themselves as adrenaline junkies. Only one other Introverted personality type – Virtuosos (ISTPs) – tends to agree at a comparable rate.

(Those Adventurers who describe themselves as adrenaline junkies remain well below the majority of Adventurers who took the survey, suggesting a tendency rather than a standard characteristic of this personality type.)

These hints about where Adventurers are more willing to take risks involve activities that might be considered “optional.” Extreme sports or visits to a casino, unless they become uncontrollable habits, don’t often disrupt the more practical parts of a person’s life. In some sense, these optional risks are different from practical, everyday risks that can impact a person’s life more regularly and, consequently, impact how the risk-taker is perceived by the people they care about.

Remember, Adventurers are more fearful around risks that might have a negative social impact. Their greater fear of more practical risks may have a lot to do with reputation or the effect on the people in their lives.

Courage Calisthenics for the Courageous Adventurer

Building Adventurer courage may be mostly a matter of building Adventurer confidence. As the chart below indicates, Adventurers are among the least likely personality types to say they have a high level of confidence. While closely related, courage and confidence are different in tone. Courage suggests a specific act, while confidence usually suggests a more generalized way of carrying oneself. As an Adventurer, you may want to boost general confidence as a starting place for building other types of courage.

Interested in measuring your self-confidence? Why not take our Confidence Test and find out more about your belief in your abilities?

Become Well Acquainted with Your Strengths

Confidence, which provides a solid foothold on the path to courage, is about having faith in your ability to accomplish things. One way to help you gain that faith is by knowing who you are when defined by your strengths.

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Write a list of your strengths and post it where you’ll see it often. Here are strengths common to Adventurer personality types to help you get started – but you are by no means limited to those we’ve listed. Each time you catch yourself applying one of your strengths to one of life’s situations, highlight it in your thinking. And don’t overlook some of the more forgettable strengths that many of us commonly treat as routine. Do you make a mean bed in the morning? Are you on time for work and appointments? Can you cook an enjoyable and nutritious meal? Make sure to place those strengths alongside your more noteworthy strengths.

Consistently noticing and nurturing your strengths is a sure way to help you build a sense of your competence. And building competence encourages you to use your assets more courageously.

Decide to know your strengths and to celebrate them in some form each time you see them come to life in the things you do.

Examine Your Fears

The combination of paralysis from fear of failure and the recognition among many Adventurers that some of their fears are irrational suggests that some of what you fear may simply be the product of your own thoughts. You’re not alone. We’re all guilty of letting our imagination get away from us. But just because this self-deception is so prevalent doesn’t mean that it isn’t problematic.

People mislead themselves with their inaccurate thoughts and self-talk, referred to as cognitive distortions, all the time. Fortunately, there are resources to help us challenge our erroneous beliefs. Learning the more common cognitive distortions gives you a language for exploring your faulty beliefs and ultimately shifting them to more realistic and helpful thoughts.

(For simpler, less intense fears, this can be used as self-help. For more complex, more pervasive, and more intense problems, a trained cognitive behavioral therapist may be needed. A more objective and trained ally can be extremely helpful.)

Decide to seek evidence to support the rationality of your fears. If there is no supporting proof, tell yourself the truth about your apprehension.

Let Curiosity Help You Practice Courage

Prospecting personalities are much more likely than Judging personalities to say they do many things out of sheer curiosity. Such curiosity is a gift. It can also be the basis for unusual and daring adventures that can flex the courage muscle like nothing else.

In many cultures, there are frequent reminders of the inherent dangers of curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat.” We use the phrase in modern times as a way to stifle inquiring minds. The original phrase from which our modern saying evolved suggests something different. The original saying was “Care killed the cat,” with “care” meaning worry or sorrow. Maybe worrying about the supposed dangers of curiosity is what did the frustrated feline of legend in. Perhaps the cat died of sheer boredom and fear because it would not follow its inquisitive nature.

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The Courageous Adventurer (ISFP) | 16Personalities (2)

Typical Adventurer personalities have something inside of them that begs them to move in the direction of the novel and the unique. It’s also likely that some important people in their lives have been (or are) uncomfortable with such curiosity. Many Adventurers have received spoken or unspoken messages from the people they care about that are intended to discourage their exploration of life. For many Adventurers, the road to a more courageous existence may be as simple as allowing their natural curiosity to take the lead more often.

For example, you’ve always wondered what the interior of that impressive house down the street looks like. Today, there’s a for-sale sign outside that says Open House. Here’s your chance. But you feel weird about going in, since you’re not in the market for a house – especially one at the price this house is probably going for.

But curiosity insists that you go inside. Such a step takes just a little courage. Consider, in the end, who cares if you do? What’s the worst that can happen? (See “Examine Your Fears” above.)

Audaciously sign the guest book and ask the eager realtor if it’s okay just to wander around a bit.

Decide to follow your curiosity more and give the spirit of exploration a chance to bulk up your bravery muscle.

Become Inspired by the Daring of Others

As an Adventurer, you likely connect powerfully with other people’s experiences. Take a deep dive into the legendary people you admire and note the types of courage that made them distinct. While everybody has different advantages and disadvantages in life, there is more about each of us that is the same than is different. On some basic level, you are just like the legendary people you admire, regardless of personality type.

Having a hero or heroes can be motivational, even if you aren’t involved with the same kind of heroic deeds as your idols are. Courage can take many forms, and each form can generalize across life’s activities and offer some encouragement in widely diverse situations. Who is the most courageous person you can think of? How can you emulate this person in your unique way?

Decide to become more like the brave people you admire. Turn their bravery into an example that adds courage to your life.

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Putting More Adventure into the Adventurer’s Life

For Adventurers, the realization of a courageous life involves balancing natural curiosity and the impulse to create against the sensitivity that might have these personalities second-guessing themselves. Mostly, courage is about being one’s best self and living life as fully as possible.

Where do you see courage in your life? Let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading

To continue your adventurous explorations, here a few articles that you may be interested in:

  • Wandering or Lost?: How Different Personality Types Approach Uncertainty
  • Assertive Adventurer (ISFP-A) vs. Turbulent Adventurer (ISFP-T)
  • Adventures with an Adventurer – Stories from the Real World
  • The Courageous Defender (ISFJ) and The Courageous Advocate (INFJ)


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