Introvert Success — Your Quiet Best is More Than Enough
An introvert can’t be a leader. They just don’t have what it takes. Introvert success depends on forcing yourself to be more outgoing, more competitive, more like Richard Branson than yourself.
Do you believe that? If I was to ask you to draw a scale or spectrum with extroversion on one end and introversion on the other, which would you place at the high end? Did you automatically place introversion as the downside of extroversion? You’re not alone. Many people do.
Just to put the record straight, I don’t believe the first paragraph I wrote. I believe that neither extroversion or introversion makes you a more capable leader; they’re just different ways of being. Either an extrovert or an introvert can be a leader, or not, depending if they develop leadership qualities, which anyone can do. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
So it doesn’t make sense to force yourself to be an extrovert. (Here’s a thought to ponder: Why don’t more people try to force themselves to be introverts?) In fact, forcing yourself to become something you’re not can create long-term harm to your emotional and physical well-being. It can create a disharmony of Parts that reverberates throughout your whole life.
Labeling and judging people isn’t helpful because we all can change and strengthen aspects about ourselves. We are not locked into a label, unless we choose to impose that limiting label upon ourselves.
Do you think of yourself as an introvert?
People think of introverts as shy, self-conscious around people or literally not liking people. While shyness and introversion can be traits that one person holds, they are not the same. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, while introversion is a preference for quiet, less-stimulating environments. Of course, an introvert can be shy and anxious or calm and resourceful…just the same as an extrovert can be, too!
Studies have discovered that the main difference between introverts and extroverts is how they recharge their batteries. Extroverts tend to want to recharge with people, introverts recharge by spending time alone. Both introverts and extroverts have important roles to play within the family, community and business world.
The important thing is to know yourself well. Then, if you want, you can enhance skills or modify behaviors that aren’t in harmony with the unique person that you want to be. But take notice…if you’re trying to squeeze yourself into a persona that’s out of character, you’re going to suffer.
Let me tell you a story about Olivia that epitomizes introvert success…
Olivia grew up in a big Italian family. She is the youngest of eight children. Her grandmother and aunt lived in the same household. She remembers being 7 and hiding in her closet with her book to get some quiet time. Her family started to tease her, which quickly started to feel more like a judgment. She would hear her mother describe her as shy, a bit antisocial, withdrawn and timid. Her parents made her see a psychologist because they were worried there was something wrong with their child – something that needed to be fixed.
Olivia was just an introverted child trapped in a big loud family. A child that required a lot of time alone. Nothing was wrong, but all those messages started to override her true nature. As a teen she pushed herself to be more social, overriding her need for quiet time to recharge.
When she came to see me at age 45 she felt depressed, anxious and had started to experience panic attacks. She had buried her true self and developed a persona that was not real. Our work became that of letting the real Olivia come through. This took a lot of trust and acceptance and resulted in a lot of grief about the time lost being someone else.
Today, Olivia is happier. She is learning to appreciate who she really is and has created a personal and professional life that caters to that. For example, she wakes up at least an hour before her family – she jogs for 20 minutes and then sips her coffee while doing her morning pages. She doesn’t start work before 10am. One weekend a month her husband agreed to take the kids on an adventure so that she can relax at home. She has learned to opt out of most invitations for outings and says yes to only a few. When she gathers with a big group, she makes sure to schedule some alone time to recharge. Date nights are usually quiet and romantic and as a family they chose destinations without crowds. Olivia has not only learned to accept her true nature but she enlists her entire family in taking care of her needs – modelling resourcefulness and deep self-care.
If you’re a quiet, introspective person, don’t dismiss your gifts or downplay them. Use your skills of observation and carefulness to your advantage. If you need time to think before responding, there’s nothing wrong with asking for time to think. If you need more alone-time than others in your family, make your needs known.
For more tips, here are some articles others have written about introvert success that I really appreciated:
- Are You An Introvert? 8 Ways To Make Introversion Your Superpower by Vanessa Van Edwards
- What Kind of Introvert Are You? by Scott Barry Kaufman
- Are You Shy, Introverted, Both, or Neither (and Why Does It Matter)? by Susan Cain
Whatever personality type you have, you have something valuable to offer. If something feels “off” right now, try to identify what it is so you can Step Forward into your most fulfilling life possible. Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, success depends on what YOU make of your life.
I started paying attention to how I’ve created the greatest impact in my life. As a result, I’ve discovered a road map for Stepping Forward that everyone can use. You can now download an Introduction to The Stepping Forward Program. I invite you to get your sneak peek today!
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