In a society where, above all, sociability and openness are valued, it can be quite difficult, if not embarrassing, to be an introvert. But Susan Kane explains to us that introverts can possess extraordinary talents and abilities that need to be respected and celebrated.
In the following text, “Introvert – from another angle”, read a different view of people who are labeled and misunderstood and misunderstood.
I first went to summer school when I was nine years old. My mother packed a suitcase full of books, which I considered a completely natural act because reading is the main joint activity in my family. It may sound antisocial, but it’s really just a different way of socializing. You are surrounded by the warmth of a family home, they are all around you, and at the same time, you can wander in your thoughts into your adventure. I had the idea that summer school is the same, only better. I imagined ten girls reading in a room, comfortably accommodated, dressed in similar nightgowns.
The summer school was more like a wild party without alcohol. On the first day, the educator gathered us all in one place and taught us a greeting that she explained to us that we will repeat every day, until the end of the summer, in order to strengthen the spirit of the summer school. These are the words: N-O-I-S-Y, that’s how we say it out loud. But I participated in it. I sang it together with others. I did my best. I was waiting for the moment when I could retire and read books.
When I first took the book out of the suitcase, the most popular girl in the group approached me and asked, “Why are you so withdrawn?” – withdrawn is of course the complete opposite of b-u-č-m-o-m. The second time I tried, the camp leader approached me with a worried expression on her face and reiterated to me how important the spirit of the camp is and how important it is to try to be open.
I put my books away, put them in a suitcase, under the bed, and they spent the whole summer there. I felt guilty about it. I felt I needed books, and they called me, and I let them down. And I let them down, I didn’t open the suitcase until I got back to my family, at the end of the summer.
I told you a story about summer school. I could tell you another 50 of them, every time I was told that my quiet and introverted way of existence is not necessary and the right approach to life, so I should try to be more extroverted. I always felt deep down that it was wrong, and that introverts are great as they are. For years, I suppressed that premonition, so I became a lawyer on Wall Street, not a writer, which I always wanted to be, partly because I had to prove to myself that I can also be fearless and confident. I went out to crowded bars, and I actually wanted to go to dinner with friends. I reflexively made decisions that were not in line with me, and I was not even aware that I was making them.
Many introverts do that, it is certainly a loss, but it is also a loss for our associates, for our community.
It may sound dramatic, but it is a loss for the world as well. In creativity and management, it is essential that introverts do what they do best. One-third to one-half of the population is introverted, one-third to half! So we’re talking about one in two or three people you know. Even if you are extroverted, think of your colleagues, partners, and children, of the person sitting next to you right now, this image that is quite rooted in our society applies to all of them. We all adopt it very early in life before we can even verbalize what we do.
To see the problem clearly, you need to understand what introversion is. That is not shyness. Shame is associated with fear of social condemnation. Introversion refers to the way you respond to stimuli, including social stimuli. Extroverts look for a lot of stimuli, while introverts feel the best, most alert, most productive when they are in a quiet environment. Not all the time, it is not an absolute thing, but very often. The key thing in getting the most out of our talents is that we all find ourselves in an environment that pleases us.
At this point, we encounter prejudice. The most important institutions of our society, schools, and jobs, are designed for extroverts, and according to their needs for a lot of stimulation. We are also currently celebrating a belief system that I call the new collective thinking, which means that all creativity and creation come from some strange social place.
Imagine a classic classroom today: when I went to school we sat on benches. We sat on benches lined up in rows and did most of the tasks independently. But today, in a classic classroom, desks are connected, four, five, six, or seven children sit together. Children work on countless group tasks. Even in the case of mathematics and creative writing, which you would think to depend on individual thinking, we expect children today to function as a group. And children who prefer to be alone or work alone, we perceive as exceptions or even worse, as problematic people.
Most teachers believe that the ideal students are extroverts, not introverts, although research has shown that introverted students have better grades and more knowledge.
Okay, the same thing is happening in our business. Most of us work in offices without walls, in open spaces, where we are exposed to constant noise and the views of associates. Introverts, for the most part, do not get top positions, although introverts are very careful, they are less likely to take big risks, which we should respect nowadays. Adam Grant conducted an interesting study at Wharton School that found that introverted leaders often get better results than extroverts because when they do business with proactive people, they are more likely to allow employees to follow their ideas, while extroverts are unintentional, so enthralled by things, that they just run everything at will, and other people’s ideas don’t come to the surface so easily.
The fact is that the leaders who led to the great changes were introverts. Here are some examples.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, described themselves as quiet and unobtrusive people, even shy. They all took the baton, even though every atom of their being told them not to do it. It turned out that it had special powers because people simply felt that they were leaders not because they enjoyed commanding others, not because they enjoyed being the center of events, but because they had no choice because she led them. thought they should do what they think is right.
I think it’s important to point out at this point that I like extroverts. I always emphasize that some of my best friends are extroverts, including my beloved husband. Of course, we are all somewhere on the scale between extroverts and extroverts. Even Carl Jung, the psychologist who popularized these terms, said that there is no exclusively introverted or exclusively extroverted person. He said that such a man should be in a madhouse if he existed at all. Some people are right in the middle of this spectrum, they are ambivert people. I often think about how they got the best of both worlds. Many consider themselves either one type or the other.
I want to say that we need a better cultural balance. We need more yin and yang relationships between these two types. This is especially important in the domain of creativity and creativity since psychologists tell us that many creative people successfully exchange and develop their ideas, but they have a pronounced introverted trait in them.
This happens because loneliness is often an integral part of creativity. Darwin used to go for long walks in the woods, and he kindly declined invitations to dinner. Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Sousse, imagined many of his amazing works in a lonely office in the attic of his house in La Jolla, California. He was afraid of meeting the children, his audience, because he was afraid that they would imagine him as a merry Santa Claus, and that they would be disappointed with his reserved attitude. Steve Wozniak invented the first Apple computer, while he was sitting alone in his office at the Hewitt-Packard company where he worked at the time. He explains how he would never have become such an expert if he had not been so withdrawn and left the house as a child.
Of course, all this does not mean that we should not cooperate, this is supported by the famous meeting of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who founded the Apple company. But it means that loneliness is important and that it is absolutely necessary for some people. The fact is that we have known the transcendental power of solitude for centuries. We have recently begun to forget that. If you analyze the world’s greatest religions, all the prophets, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, go to the wilderness, alone, where they experience deep enlightenment and revelations, which they then pass on to their community. So without wildlife, there is no discovery!
If you consider modern psychology, it is not surprising. It turns out that we cannot be part of a group without instinctively reflecting and imitating the opinions of others. Even when it comes to things that seem personal and essential, such as: who you like, you will begin to imitate the beliefs of the people around you, and not realize that you are doing it.
Groups traditionally follow the opinions of the most dominant and charismatic person, although there is no connection between good public speaking and good ideas, there really is none.
So you may be following a person who has the best ideas, but you may not. Do you really want to leave it to chance? It would be much better for everyone to be alone, come to their ideas when they are free from the pressure of the group, and then to gather and discuss ideas in a well-regulated environment and continue from that point.
If all this is true, why don’t we understand it? Why are schools and jobs organized that way? Why do we impose a sense of guilt on introverted people that sometimes they want to separate from others? Part of the answer is in the history of our culture. Western society, and especially the United States, has always praised people for their actions, to the detriment of thinkers and “thinkers.” But the early history of America is characterized by what historians call the culture of character – at that time we still valued the spirituality of people and their moral qualities. If you analyze the self-help books from that period, they all had titles like “Character, the greatest thing in the world”. Those books celebrated role models such as Abraham Lincoln, who was respected for his moderation and unpretentiousness. Ralph Waldo Emerson called him “a man who does not use his superiority”.
At the beginning of the 20th century, we entered a new era of culture, which historians call the culture of personality.
It happened that we developed agroeconomics to the scale of world business. Suddenly, people start leaving small places and going to cities. Now people are proving themselves to a bunch of strangers, not working together with those they’ve known all their lives. So it is understandable that traits such as attractiveness and charisma have suddenly become very important. Of course, self-help books have changed their names to satisfy the desires of “How to win friends and influence people”. They promote truly successful traders as role models. That is the world we live in today. It is our cultural heritage.
I am not implying that social resourcefulness is unimportant, and I am not calling for the abolition of teamwork. Religions that sent their worshipers to the lonely peaks of the mountains teach us to love and trust. The problems we face in the science and technology of our time are of such proportions that armies of people who work together to solve them are necessary. I am simply saying that the more freedom we give to introverts, the more likely they are to come up with their own unique solutions to these problems.
I would now like to share what is in my suitcase today. Guess what? Books. My suitcase is full of books. “Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood. A novel by Milan Kundera. And Maimonides’ “Guide to the Confused”. But these are not really my books. I brought them because they were written by my grandfather’s favorite writers.
My grandfather was a rabbi, a widower, and lived alone in a small apartment in Brooklyn, and it was my favorite place as a child, partly because it was filled with his fine and worldly presence, and partly because it was filled with books. Indeed, literally, every table, every chair in the apartment, did not serve the original functions, but as a basis for piles of books. Like everyone in my family, my grandfather’s favorite activity was reading.
But he also loved his sermons and you could feel that love in his services every week for 62 years while he was a rabbi. He would weave the wisdom from the books he read every week, the complex layers of old and humanistic thought, in his sermons. People would come from all sides to listen to him.
But this is what my grandfather is up to.
Beneath that ceremonial shell, he was very modest and introverted, so much so that, during the service itself, it was not easy for him to establish eye contact with the same people he had held services for sixty-two years. Even outside the synagogue, he would end the conversations too quickly, because he did not want to take too much time away from anyone. When he died at the age of 94, the police had to stop the traffic in the neighborhood in order to accommodate all the people who came to see him off. I am trying in my own way to learn something from my grandfather.
I just published a book on introversion, it took me about seven years to write it. Those were blessed years for me, because I read, wrote, thought, and researched. It was my version of the day at my grandfather’s library. But, suddenly, my job is completely different, I need to give lectures, talk about introversion. It is much harder for me because as much as I am honored to be here with you, it is not my natural environment.
I prepared for performances like this as best I could. Last year, I practiced public appearances whenever the opportunity arose. This is my “year of dangerous lectures”. That helped me a lot. But what helps me, even more, is my feeling, my belief, my hope that our attitudes towards introversion, unobtrusive people, and loneliness are really on the verge of dramatic change. I really mean it. I will end my presentation with a call to share with those who have an attitude similar to mine.
Stop being preoccupied with teamwork. Just stop. I want to state my views clearly because I really believe that our work environment should promote cultures of casual conversations, a pleasant atmosphere, where people gather and spontaneously exchange ideas. That is great. This is pleasing to both introverts and extroverts. We need more privacy and freedom, and much, much more independence in our work. The same thing is copied in schools. It is necessary to teach children how to work together, but it is also important to teach them how to work alone. This is also very important for extroverted children. They have to work alone, because, in part, great thoughts are born that way.
Go to the wilderness! Be like the Buddha, come to your discoveries. I am not propagating the idea that we should all build huts in the woods and never talk to each other again, but I suggest that we should switch off and entertain our thoughts a little more often.
Think carefully about the things you put in the suitcase and why you put them there. Extroverts, maybe your suitcases are full of books too? Or maybe a champagne glass or a parachute? Whatever it is, I hope you deal with it whenever you can and honor us with your energy and joy. But, introverts, as you are, you probably need to keep the contents of your suitcases carefully. That’s okay. But, from time to time, only sometimes, I hope that you will open your suitcase so that other people can see it because this world needs you and the things you carry with you.
I wish you the best possible journey and the courage to speak quietly.
I hope you liked the content about introverts?
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
For more motivational stories, you can visit https://motivationbymarco.com/