I have mentioned before that I was reading “Quiet” and how much I loved Susan Cain’s book. She talks about the Extrovert Ideal and how today it is seen as a virtue to be talkative and in the spotlight. If you think about it the notion we have of a successful person is an extrovert – someone who is comfortable speaking in public, someone who is charming, good with words or as Cain put it, a modern day salesman. These are the people who are seen as great employees and who will have a great career. Being an introvert is seen as a weakness.
But you know what? Rosa Parks and Steve Jobs were introverts. And so are Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. We tend to think of successful people as loud and extroverted but that is not always the case.
Here are a few things you need to know about being an introvert:
1. There is more to it than you think
People tend to think you can be either an introvert or an extrovert. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Introversion and extroversion are at complete opposite ends of the scale and people usually fall somewhere in between. There are people who are only introverted in certain situations and people who are only extroverted in others. In fact, people tend to be a bit of both or what is called an ambivert.
2. Being introverted is different to being shy
It is a common misconception to think that if you are an introvert you are shy. Not true. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are anti-social, afraid to talk or nervous to interact with other people. It simply means that you get your energy from spending time alone. Some introverts are extremely sociable but need to find a balance between that and spending time alone. Being a bit of an introvert myself (again, I don’t know where I fall on the scale but I guess it would be somewhere in between), I love socialising and spending time with friends but I need that time where I can enjoy a nice cup of tea and a book by myself. Maybe introverts just need some time alone to recharge!
3. Being an introvert or an extrovert doesn’t define who you are
Who you are is greatly defined by your character and your passion. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a good person, it doesn’t tell people what you like or who you like or if your smart or not. In fact, it doesn’t say much about you at all. So don’t sweat it, be yourself!
4. It is OK to be introverted
First, it is not a sickness and you are not weird! I think people tend to pity introverts and like to mother them. There is no need! Even though the Western culture has idolised people that are bold and loud and enjoy being in the spotlight, introverts play an important role in society. You don’t need to change or feel forced to pretend to be something you are not. There are just as many successful introverts as there are extroverts. Actually, introverts are usually thoughtful and persistent so they tend to make excellent leaders, which takes me to my last point…
5. Introverts DO make great leaders
They are in general great listeners which makes them great leaders. In fact, one of the best leaders I’ve had was an introvert and was incredible. She pushed us to work independently, which has been proven to result in having and developing great ideas, and supported us unconditionally. It’s all about your character and how you influence people to follow you. Anyone can be a great leader, no matter how extroverted or how introverted!
Lots of love,