"Expect the unexpected. And whenever possible, be the unexpected."
ISTPs as They Typically Are
Tolerant, flexible, and observant, ISTPs tend to take an easy-going approach to life. They will often engage people in a slightly confrontational manner, delighting in the reactions they can provoke. ISTPs can often gain a sense of energy and excitement through interacting physically with their environment. They tend to like activities that can give them a bit of an adrenaline rush or which are somewhat competitive in nature such as games or sports. They tend to have a well-developed spatial intelligence and a sense of presence where there is an immediacy to them and what they do. They appear very active yet self-contained to others, and tend to be very good at noticing and reacting to what is around them.
In social situations ISTPs can sometimes feel awkward and may respond to these feelings of awkwardness by adopting a self-image as a simple-natured person who dislikes drama and who doesn't see the value in a lot of social rituals and etiquette. They tend to prefer to just let people be and often strive for independence. Most ISTPs dislike having to rely on others or being entangled in social commitments where other people rely on them. The ISTP's inclination for independence at times can clash with the responsibilities they may have accumulated due to their life decisions. In their minds, many ISTPs see social responsibilities as tentative, and for this reason they may not always realize the lasting and unalterable nature of some of the obligations they are taking on.
ISTPs tend to value personal freedom and many are loath to accept changes and developments that may diminish their own. In this manner they can be quite stubborn and contrarian when they feel they are being unfairly restricted by busybodies and touchy-feely people who can't control their expectations and emotions.
ISTPs like to be free to experiment, change course, and do their own thing. Many find that enmeshing themselves too much in the advice, criticisms, and expectations of others merely hampers their ability to improvise and experiment and figure things out for themselves. While overall most ISTPs are easy-going and good company, their need for freedom and independence can often become a point of contention between them and others.
ISTPs tend to enjoy solving problems and tinkering with physical objects in depth. They often have a naturally scientific and logical mindset where they see the logical principles governing why a given process unfolds as it does or which parts of a process or object are essential and which are superfluous. As well as being scientific, ISTPs tend to be naturally technically minded in their thinking, and many enjoy honing in specific problems and tasks that are not working as well as they should in order to come up with a relentlessly clear-cut diagnosis of where the problem lies and what should be improved.
While many ISTPs are very intelligent and tend to think in terms of principles, ISTPs do not share the excessive fondness for abstractions so often found among INTP and ENTPtypes. They may understand the abstractions full well, but to ISTPs, abstractions are only valuable insofar as they further a more direct understanding of the problem at hand. In other words, most ISTPs tend to believe that abstractions must prove their own worth by being useful. Dry, repetitive, or overly academic situations may easily bore them and cause them to become agitated or fidgety. In the same way, hierarchies and work routines that specify a lot of formulaic procedures that the ISTP must adhere to before actually getting an opportunity to engage with the problem are likely to leave them frustrated. They tend to work better with projects where there is not too much distance between talking about the problem and actually solving the problem.
ISTPs tend to be very improvisational in nature. They tend not to like planning too far ahead and will prefer to use their skills to seize opportunities in the moment and figure things out on the fly. In chaotic or high-pressure situations, ISTPs are often the first to seize the initiative and act while others are still stifled and unsure of what to do. While ISTPs often come across as relaxed in everyday situations, many also have a second personality where they are capable of springing into action and addressing the problem at hand in bold and immediate strokes.
Younger ISTPs can sometimes seem a bit directionless, but as they grow older, most ISTPs tend to develop a strong internal sense of purpose which prompts them to realize that in order to be able to adapt to any situation, they're going to have to commit to obligate themselves in various ways, even if it means constricting themselves or definitively shutting certain possibilities out of their lives. More mature ISTPs who have managed to commit in this way may often evince a persistence, determination, and tenaciousness that their younger friends would never have expected of them. They set audacious goals for themselves and work persistently to achieve them.
Overall, ISTPs tend to be playful and curious people who have a keen resourcefulness and drive. They excel at thinking on their feet and springing to action when others are caught off-guard. Spirited and often sporty, they enjoy the thrill of the game and are not wont to shy away from a competition or challenge. They tend to be rugged individualists who don't like relying on people emotionally and who just want to do their own thing and let others do theirown thing without interfering in each other's business.