The Shark – ISTP

Sharks are the most active of the sixteen types, which, considering their blisteringly active Hunter siblings, is saying something. Few would mistake them for the equally laconic, yet gently 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 animal type to identify, their actions speaking louder than any words might.

The Specialist

Frida Kahlo

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. Therefore, they learn best when engaged kinesthetically. They want to touch things, manipulate them, 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 wielded by Bruce Lee. This virtuosity doesn’t come easy. Sharks will spend hours practicing until they fully master whatever tool they choose. It’s a phenomenal talent to have, but one that can easily wither away in an occupation that does not utilize it—put a Shark in a cubicle, assign them a stack of paperwork, and they are likely to smash one and burn the other.

For this same reason, Sharks commonly struggle in school. Forcing a Shark to sit and listen to a lecture on political upheaval in pre-Elizabethan England is like putting them on the torture rack itself; they don’t want to memorize facts about combat, they want to engage in it. For those Sharks who are academically gifted, school is tedious but doable, though even those few rarely choose to pursue postgraduate study. This could possibly explain the dearth of qualified surgeons in the world; surgeons are basically master tool-users—it’s not a coincidence many of them choose tool-based hobbies such as golf and fishing—making Sharks the type most equipped to excel in the job, and the type least likely to go through all the academic requirements to achieve it. School can be grueling for Sharks, and it is not out of the ordinary for them to misbehave. And unlike their Hunter siblings, the Fox and the Peacock, who also have a habit of disregarding rules, Sharks lack the requisite charm required to avoid punishment from their teachers. However, put a tool in their hands, whether it’s a ball, wrench, paintbrush, or scalpel, and watch them become a star.

The Hunter

Clint Eastwood

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. Yet, because of their penchant for reflexive action, these traits usually 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 merely a reflection of their ability to scan the environment and gather an incredible amount of information in the limited time before they feel they must react—Sharks do not sit idly by during times of action.

What seems like recklessness is more an indication of the Shark’s ability to react faster than others. More cautious types will view this lightning-fast decision-making as rash behavior brought on by immaturity and impatience. The truth is, the difference between an inexperienced Shark and an experienced one is not discretion. It’s ability level; immature Sharks haven’t misjudged the situation as much as they’ve misjudged their own ability to handle it. Mature Sharks, on the other hand, are keenly aware of their own skill level and the work it took to get there, with the speed at which they pounce on their prey only masking the hours spent hiding in the bushes.

The Aggressor


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 Smiths. However, whereas a Smith is often oblivious to the offense that might be taken due to their forthrightness, 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 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 allows them to get their way in most confrontations. Nevertheless, this approach can be problematic in situations that require more nuance and tact. It can also be disadvantageous when combating other aggressive types, as Sharks will frequently find their straight-line approach being outmaneuvered 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 make loyal friends and vicious enemies.

The Action Hero

Michael Jordan

[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. Nailing a shot at the buzzer? Got it. Scaling a rocky cliff sans harness? Piece of cake. Performing emergency transplant surgery? Scrub up. Sharks are addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with having to block out all other distractions, including family, friends, and teammates, to succeed at a singularly vital task. This ultra-focus can cause them to appear callous and arrogant, sometimes making it hard for them to lead colleagues and coworkers, even when the collective objective is clear.

They have very little patience for the weaker members of the team, and when push comes to shove, will prefer to do a task themselves rather than delegate it to a person of lesser ability. A Shark would argue it’s just them leading by example. Other types commonly view it as the actions of a prima donna. Either way, whether their teammates love them or hate them, there’s no one those same teammates would trust more to take the last shot.


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