Sharks are the most active of all the 16 types, which, considering their incredibly active SP siblings, is saying something. Few would mistake them for the equally quiet, yet gentle Butterfly, nor would the clever, bend-the-rules mentality they share with the Fox, ever be enough to confuse the Shark’s verbal conciseness with that of the Fox’s verbosity. The aggressive, physical nature of Sharks is so pronounced that it makes them the easiest temperament to identify, their actions speaking louder than any words might.
I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”
– Frida Kahlo
The most noticeable trait of Sharks is their unparalleled facility with tools. This is why Sharks learn best when engaged kinesthetically. They want to touch things, move things, and have an immediate impact on the world around them. In the hands of a Shark, a simple tool is elevated to its fullest potential: Picasso’s brush, Miles Davis’ trumpet, or nunchucks in the hands of Bruce Lee. This virtuosity doesn’t come easy. Sharks will spend hours and hours practicing until they can fully master whatever tool they choose. That being said, it is not a shock that Sharks wither away in occupations that don’t utilize this talent—put them in a cubicle, assign them a stack of paperwork, and they are likely to destroy one and burn the other. For this same reason, Sharks commonly struggle in school. Sitting around listening to a teacher lecture on history is torture to the active ISTP; Sharks don’t want to memorize facts about war, they want to engage in it. For those Sharks who are academically gifted, school is tedious, but doable, though even among those, few rarely choose to pursue postgraduate study. This might explain the dearth of surgeons in the world. A surgeon is essentially a master tool-user, albeit a highly educated one, thus it is an occupation that is rife with Sharks—is it any wonder that so many surgeons choose tool-based hobbies like golf and fishing as their go-to entertainment? Unfortunately, for those Sharks who lack those intellectual gifts, school can be grueling, and it is not out of the ordinary to see them misbehave. And unlike their SP siblings, the Fox and the Peacock, who also have a habit of disregarding the rules, Sharks lack the requisite charm required to avoid discipline from their, likely SJ, teachers. However, put a tool in their hands, whether it’s a ball, a wrench, a hammer, or a paintbrush, and watch them become a star.
I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement… I felt the less he said the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.
– Clint Eastwood
In words and actions, a Shark chooses carefully. There are neither extraneous sentences nor wasted movements, as a Shark, when focused, can be extremely precise and patient, like a predator waiting for the perfect time to strike. Nevertheless, because of their penchant for reflexive action, these traits might go unnoticed; there is a common misconception that Sharks are incapable of forethought. In actuality, a Shark’s tendency to throw themselves into a situation with reckless abandon is just a reflection of their ability to scan the environment and gather an incredible amount of information in the limited time before they must react—Sharks will not sit idly by during times of action. What seems like recklessness is more an indication of the Shark’s ability to think faster than others. More cautious types will view this lightning-fast decision-making as rash behavior brought on by immaturity. The truth is, the difference between an inexperienced Shark and an experienced one is not discretion; it’s ability level. And the speed at which a Shark pounces on its prey often masks the hours spent hiding in the bushes.
It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that, I’m sorry. But you can take my word for it; your mother had it coming. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.
– The Bride (“Kill Bill”)
There is absolutely no subtleness to the Shark. They will tell you what they think, when they think it. This bluntness is one of the few things they share with NTs. However, whereas the NT is frequently oblivious to the offense that might be taken due to their honesty, a Shark really doesn’t care if they hurt someone’s feelings. They hate when people mince words. It’s almost as if the Shark interprets verbal discretion as an expression of fear; and if it’s one thing that Sharks want everyone to know, it’s that they’re not afraid of anything. When problems arise, Sharks like to meet them head on and aggressively, favoring the “might makes right” approach that usually serves them well. This can cause problems in situations that require a more nuanced, tactful approach. It can also be disadvantageous when combating other aggressive types, as Sharks will often find their directness being out-maneuvered by wily Foxes, or strategically overwhelmed by Killer Whales. Regardless, Sharks are widely respected for their confident, attack-first mentality, and it would be wise to remember this: they’re great to have as a friend, and terrible to have as an enemy.
The Action Hero
[Jerry Krause] said organizations win championships. I said, “I didn’t see organizations playing with the flu in Utah.”
– Michael Jordan
Sharks live for the pressure. Whether it’s nailing a shot at the buzzer, scaling a rocky cliff sans climbing harness, or performing an emergency transplant surgery, Sharks are addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with having to block out all other distractions, including friends and teammates, in order to succeed at a singularly vital task. This ultra-focus can cause them to appear callous and arrogant, putting quite a dent in their leadership capabilities. They have very little patience for the weaker members of the group, and when push comes to shove, a Shark will prefer to do a task themselves rather than delegate it to a person of lesser ability. A Shark might argue that this is just them leading by example. Other types might view it as the actions of a lone wolf. Either way, whether their teammates or co-workers love them or hate them, there is no one they trust more to take the last shot.