In a guest post on David Johnson’s Crossing the Threshold, I explore about whether introversion might help us avoid burnout. What do you think? Take a moment to read it and share your thoughts over at Crossing the Threshold:
David Johnson has written a much-needed piece called “I Used To Be An Introvert, But” about people claiming to be former introverts. The bottom line: there is no such thing as getting over introversion and why would we want to anyway? We would give up the many traits that set introverts apart: strong abilities for idea synthesis, compelling leadership abilities that harness the skills of the entire team, or the enjoyment of both substantial conversation and quiet contemplation.
David eloquently explores possible motivations for fleeing from introversion. An underlying theme is a misunderstanding of what introversion actually is. So let’s bust some myths with four quick introversion essentials:
1. Introverts are not broken. There is nothing to fix. Introversion is one expression of a personality trait, no more a pathology than extroversion.
2. Introversion is not the same as shyness. There are shy extroverts and there are social introverts. While there is some overlap in the characteristics of introversion and shyness, they are different phenomena.
3. Introverts get saturated differently than extroverts. While extroverts tend to have little endurance for solitude, introverts have lower endurance for social stimulation. Both need to recharge in their preferred environments.
4. Introversion is worse than extroversion. Over the past 100 years, US culture has idealized extroversion, but remember three important things. (1) Before that, an introverted nature was as socially accepted as extroversion is now. Or more. (2) In many cultures around the world, introversion is the preferred personality type. And (3) some of the most effective business leaders in United States history have been introverts.
Introversion is not something we grow out of. It is simply a personality characteristic. We can choose to feel victimized by being an introvert, decide we are broken and give up on our dreams. Or we can embrace who we are, build skills on top of this one personality characteristic and change the world by being our ourselves.
My coach, Ann Betz, and I were talking yesterday about vocal range in coaching. As an introvert, one of the things I’ve noticed about coaching training is that when range is mentioned, the training is toward going big. Being louder. Being more animated. Being crazier. What’s missing is equal emphasis on the companion lesson of being more quiet, more still, more grounded. Challenging territory for an introvert – and ripe with growth opportunities. Not as challenging territory for extroverts, and the omission of stillness deprives them of a chance to expand…or is that condense?