At my core, I’m a hardcore introvert. And I absolutely love it.
However, I have actually learned to be more balanced in the last several years, because of a lot of work I have done on myself, to become more social, and connect more.
Because connection with others and generosity is on the top of my hierarchy of what I value in life.
I really don’t like to say that I’ve learned to become more extroverted, because that’s not very probable. It’s more that I’ve learned to become more curious outwardly and more social person.
Connecting with people in my own style, that comes from being an introvert at heart. Psychological research (Myers Briggs type indicator or MBTI) has shown that introversion and extroversion is wired in as a primary type.
Not only that, but it’s on a sliding scale, most people are more one than the other, but really a mixture of both.
I am an INFP which stands for “Introvert Intuitive Feeling Perceiving” by the MBTI.
The simple definition of introvert vs. extrovert is this:
INTROVERTS recharge their energy when alone.
They need more down time than extroverts.
It’s overwhelming and draining when they don’t get it.
EXTROVERTS recharge their energy when around other people.
Being alone too much drives them insane.
Though I very much value connection with others and community, and have done a ton of work to go from being socially awkward to being social, I really value and appreciate the focus and clarity I get from my “introvert time” of focused work, research and exploration, creativity, contemplation/meditation and good ol’ fashioned daydreaming.
These all give me foundational strength and internal power to live with passion and purpose AND to be social as long as my primary introvert energy tanks are more than half full.
Even though extroverts are exalted to the status of successful and social beings in Western society, there are so many talented introverts out there it’s ridiculous.
Think of all the great actors and musicians alone that were introverts. Marlon Brando. Julia Roberts. Clint Eastwood. Michael Jackson. Bob Dylan. Meryl Streep. And the scientists, innovators and leaders. Albert Einstein. Mother Teresa. Warren Buffet. Ghandi.
As Susan Cain talks about in the video below, many introverts are often the best leaders.
This isn’t in any way meant to knock extroverts, believe me because there are plenty of great extrovert leaders as well.
However, introversion has been undervalued for so long, just because introverts don’t always have the appearance of having self confidence on the outside.
It’s time to stand up and appreciate that there are many great introvert leaders.
One key thing to note is – although it’s more likely an introvert will be shy due to more time spent alone…
Being shy DOES NOT equal being introverted.
I am not longer shy like I used to be, and while it took a lot of work, I’m now what I’d call a “social introvert”.
It’s important to know this, so that shy introverts can be supported in being more social, that is, if they want to be that way.
In the video below, the Cain talks about respecting the introvert, and the extrovert. But how just the outgoing sales person type shouldn’t be valued as better.
About how introverts can often be easily overstimulated, and that work environments are set up for extroverts (i.e. large open spaces with cubicles or open desks where everyone can be in their business).
Introverts often need to work alone to be their most creative, and not forced into group work situations all the time.
Some of her key solutions:
- Stop the madness of group work
- Teach kids to work together, and for extraverted children especially to work on their own. Contemplation.
- Go to the wilderness, get into nature. (Great alone time here, for sure)
Give the TED video a watch below and expand your brain.
This post is in no way meant to have introverts seen as victims that have a harder time controlling emotions.
It’s about awareness of the difference between the primary temperaments of introverts and extroverts, and that one isn’t better than the other, they have different strengths and preferences.
And different is beautiful.