I recently finished a book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Have you ever read a book that was written for you? Now I have.
I’ve long known that I’m an introvert, and for just as long, thought it was a weakness, something that I needed to work on. Why? I figured out early on in life that those who made the most noise generally got what they wanted.
Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.
The book discusses how introverts struggle to be heard in a country that heavily promotes the Extrovert Ideal, which directly affects how we educate our children, position our workplaces and gauge success. There’s pros and cons to both personality types, so it makes sense to have a mix in your workplace and social circle. Why?
Bill Gates named “The Power of Introverts” as one of his all-time favorite TED Talks.
First, based upon studies, one third to one half of Americans are introverts, whether you realize it or not. “If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one,” says Susan Cain. So it’s helpful to understand this personality type to have more harmonious relationships, manage employees more effectively and tap into the positives of an introvert’s personality to apply to your own life.
Second, research has shown that introverts and extroverts can make a great team. In fact, introverted leaders are generally a better match for proactive employees while extroverted leaders are better coupled with more passive workers. Depending on your industry, you can gauge how your workforce leans and what type of managers would be more effective. Remember that you likely have both introverts and extroverts represented, so it’s a good idea to seek feedback from all types of employees.
Buzz is JFK’s Camelot, but it’s also the Kennedy Curse.
Interestingly enough, research has shown that effective CEOs, not necessarily the most well known, often have little or no charisma and have little use for it. While charismatic leaders may be effective, their charm may also be hiding the fact they’re not performing.
Face it: where would we be without some of these introverts?
- Rosa Parks
- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
- Albert Einstein
- Bill Gates
- Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss
As some of the aforementioned successful people know, you can stretch yourself to fit a certain situation, but only so far. For example, an introverted college professor can handle (and appear quite fluent) at delivering lively, enthusiastic lectures on a subject close to his heart. However, if he spends his entire day lecturing, socializing and networking, he won’t have any down time to recharge his batteries and will eventually burn out.
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.
That’s why it’s so important to figure out what you love and do it as much as possible. You’ll be happy and ideally situated in the comfort of your personality. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary (and exciting) to step out of your comfort zone, but there’s a reason it’s your comfort zone. If you live outside of it, you can burn out quickly and affect those around you.
We all write our life stories as if we were novelists, with beginnings, conflicts, turning points and endings.
Understand who you are, so you can write the best life story for you.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Does your life fit your personality or are you constantly stretching to be someone else? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image credits: Quiet book cover, Theodor Geisel
An introvert (who’s finally comfortable in her own shoes),
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