In many ways, our modern society is biased against introverts, especially in Western culture. Our image of a successful person is essentially the “Man (or Woman) of Action!” This, of course, is an extrovert image. The social butterfly. The multitasker. The energizer. the people-pleaser. The champ. The larger-than-life Captain of Industry.
In other words, pretty much everything that the introvert is not.
“If you are an introvert, you are born with a temperament that craves to be alone, delights in meaningful connections, thinks before speaking and observes before approaching. If you are an introvert, you thrive in the inner sanctuary of the mind, heart and spirit, but shrink in the external world of noise, drama and chaos. As an introvert, you are sensitive, perceptive, gentle and reflective. You prefer to operate behind the scenes, preserve your precious energy and influence the world in a quiet, but powerful way.” By Alethia Luna, Quiet Strength: Embracing, Empowering and Honoring Yourself as an Introvert
Shy? No Way
Contrary to what you might believe, introverts aren’t shy or standoffish. They don’t have any special difficulty with making friends or going out in public. Honestly, the world around them doesn’t hold as much interest as the thoughts and musings inside their own heads.
Introverts are drawn to meaningful conversations. They don’t like small talk. But they will talk non-stop about something they are interested in. They tend to think…a lot. And thinking is generally best done in isolation.
Group Thinking vs. Out-Of-The-Box
Sure, sure, you can do the whole “design by committee” thing and use “groupthink” to reach a conclusion. But, if you want an out-of-the-box solution to a problem, first get outside the box. This means going off by yourself and ruminating about it. It’s spending your “time in the wilderness” for deep thought and inspiration. This is what introverts excel at.
They tend to spend more time “listening” rather than “talking” in a group environment. While some extroverts may be “complaining” about the problem, the introvert often is the one who offers “suggested solutions.”
Introverts like to march to the beat of their own drum. They normally don’t spend much time seeking approval. It’s great if they can get it, but approval is not a requirement to feel validated or valued. One could argue that an introvert is actually MORE self-confident than the average extrovert, who almost seems to have the constant NEED for approval and adoration of others. Generally, introverts couldn’t care less.
Acquaintance or Friend?
Whereas the extrovert often counts literally scores, or even hundreds of people as acquaintances, the introvert values quality than quantity. He or she may have only a handful of friends, but they’re all significant. You don’t normally get to choose introverts as “friends.” They choose you to be their friends. Once befriended, you’ve got a treasure indeed and a trusted confidant and ally for life.
The Corporate “Think Tank”
Introverts are good for business too. They’re frequently passed over for promotion because of misconceptions. However, being more cerebral, the introverted manager is less likely to make either strategic or tactical blunders. Why? Because she’s less likely to shoot from the hip. Each decision an introvert makes is grounded in careful thought.
A study shows that good introverted leaders listen to what their teams have to say and vice-versa.
Can Introverts Lead? Absolutely!
Based on the misconceptions, people might be thinking that introverts make terrible leaders. But, you’d be surprised. Again, it’s not that introverts can’t lead. It’s simply that they have a very different leadership style.
They “lead with quiet confidence,” said Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of “The Introverted Leader.”
Kahnweiler, a corporate consultant who has trained thousands of leaders through her work, found that introverts who are good leaders do four things very well. She calls them the “4 P’s Process”: Prepare, Present, Push (themselves) and Practice.
According to experts, examples of introverted leaders are Abraham Lincoln, Charles Schwab, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein, to name a few.
But I Prefer To Work Alone
Micropreneurship is an area where many introverts shine. Brightly. After all, if you’re an introvert, and you’d rather get away from the clutter and noise of the typical corporate cube farm, what better way to do that than to become a one man/woman show, working out of your own home? That way, you’ve got all the time in the world to think, ponder, plan and execute.
It’s not that introverts can’t make the professional (networking) connections that are critical to the success of an entrepreneurial start-up. It’s simply that their web of connections will be smaller and more carefully chosen.
It’s entirely possible to design your micropreneurial enterprise around your essential, introverted nature. After all, the kind of deep thinking you do is a marketable skill that not just anyone can replicate. And there is definitely considerable value in it.
So, Introvert, you’re the ultimate soloist. And that’s a very good thing.
All this is to say, if you’re an introverted soul, don’t try to fit into the extroverted mold. Be true to yourself. Whatever your career or business is, embrace your unique gifts and use them to your advantage!
“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.” By Susan Cain, Author, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.