Note: I am a voracious reader. I often joke that one of my fears is that I won’t live long enough to read all of the books on my list. Many of the books I read have something to do with spiritual, emotional or physical health. Or leadership. Or hiking. Or coaching. Or…
I finally “get” me.
Many years ago, when I learned about Introverts and Extroverts I instinctively knew I was an Introvert. All I knew about the two types was this:
Introverts “recharge their batteries” by being alone; Extroverts recharge by being with others.
That was enough for me. But after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking I have a greater understanding of how people like me are hardwired and I picked up great tips for how to better live in a world that’s designed for Extroverts. Reading this book also made me feel sorry for the 10-year-old me, and the teenage me, and the college-aged me. Schools, churches, and most offices are not set up to help Introverts thrive.
I read about common misconceptions regarding many Introverts. Those misconceptions apply to me. Most people are surprised to learn that I’m an Introvert. I talk freely in meetings. I don’t have too much trouble meeting new people, especially when doing so is a part of my job. I’ve done a lot of public speaking and have received high marks for it. But after giving a one or two-hour presentation, I want to go back to my hotel room to decompress rather than going out to lunch or dinner with a group.
Yes, I’m classically Introverted. I don’t like parties, I loathe small talk, and I feel overwhelmed in crowded, noisy restaurants. I’ll overcome my dislike of crowds if the payoff is worth it to me, such as with football games and Rolling Stone concerts.
On the other hand I know to play to my Introvert strengths:
- I love in-depth conversations with one or two people. I enjoy learning what makes them tick. That makes me good at my career in fundraising because I really care about the donors. I want them to invest in programs within my agency that will give them the most joy. I can’t help them do that unless I take the time to get to know them and their interests.
- My coaching practice is primarily one on one. I enjoy those conversations and I get great satisfaction in making a difference in my clients’ lives. When I run a group coaching class, I keep the number of participants low. That way each of us on the call has the opportunity to dig deep and help ourselves and each other.
- Being an Introvert allows me to go on “lonely” three-hour training runs without becoming so bored I want to stab my eye with an ice pick. The alone time does me as much good mentally as it does physically.
One of the best take-aways from the book is that Introverts do not need to change. We are perfect just the way we are.
Here’s a link to Susan Cain’s TED Talk. If you are an Introvert or have them in your life, I encourage you to brew yourself a cup of tea and enjoy.