“Introversion is not a choice, not a lifestyle; it’s an orientation.”
– Susan Cain
New York Times bestselling author Susan Cain is my shero! She lifted a burden from my shoulders in her well-documented anthem to introversion.
Cain maintains that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world and should be encouraged and celebrated. Her book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” was published four years ago and instantly got introverts talking and mobilizing. It morphed into a movement that’s not so quiet! Today Cain is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution. The company’s mission is to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all.
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Just weeks ago, I went online and joined the revolution. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been quiet. Until now, I’ve felt pretty much alone, and I’m amazed to discover that I’m part of a vast and distinguished tribe. It’s an awesome virtual community. I get daily updates from tribe members who share their stories and photos about “what it’s like to have a quiet consciousness.”
For most of my adult life, I’ve never felt that I had permission to just be myself … reserved, pensive and contemplative. Being a part of the Quiet Revolution tribe has given me the vigor and backbone to embrace the real me and own my introversion.
I worked in television news for 35 years. On its face, it seems incredibly contradictory that a personality type such as mine would be drawn to this field. I mean, reserved and reporter don’t sound like they go together well.
Yet, it suits me, and may even benefit my ability to tell a story. I see how it correlates nicely with my work in sharing truths. Introversion has actually helped me push through and excel at some of the rigors of the reporting process. I’m attracted to documenting stories that require a soft touch and sensitivity. I gravitate to interviews with people who want to share private experiences that are hard to reveal publicly.
Real life example: I interviewed an Iraq war combat veteran struggling with PTSD. He wanted to try an unconventional therapy to cope with the nightmares, rage and depression that were crushing his attempts to rebuild his life and his marriage when he returned home from the war.
He would be forced to confront some demons; I joined his wife in several of his therapy session. I felt almost every bump in the road they had been on. It was just me and a small video camera recording pain and healing – no bright lights and extra microphones wrapped around their clothing. My introversion helps me channel my empathy for the veteran. Through my skills of listening and flexibility, I produced a powerful story of love and recovery.
People like me are all around you. Cain crunched the numbers and discovered that one out of every two or three people is an introvert. I know from my regular rendezvous with members of the Quiet Revolution tribe that many are highly social, fearless and driven, while staying true to their quiet natures. Some have found great success in today’s corporate culture.
Lots of the Triangle’s most successful visionaries and business leaders are introverts. I talked with Winkie La Force about this. She is the outgoing president at Leadership Triangle. It was established in 1992 to promote leadership, networking opportunities, and cooperation in the region. La Force has been at the helm since the beginning and has supported hundreds of graduates through classes. She’s not surprised that some of the Triangle’s most engaging leaders are actually introverts.
People like me are all around you. Cain crunched the numbers and discovered that one out of every two or three people is an introvert.
“Because I have seen this style over the years and in this frenetic life it is such a relief to have a person think first and then share their thoughts,” she told me. ”I wanted to know how quiet leaders show up for work and present themselves to the people they lead. She said they are “quieter, good listeners, thoughtful.”
She told me the most successful business introverts don’t work at being something they’re not.
“Very few – I think if they are good leaders they are authentic and those very comfortable in their own skin as introverts,” she said.
La Force doesn’t feel a need to have separate leadership classes for introverts. “No. All leaders need to come together and understand that they all have very important traits that each group must understand and respect,” she said.
I couldn’t get her to divulge the names of well-known Triangle introverts who are personal friends. That’s OK. I’m a graduate of Leadership Triangle myself. I already know a few and contacted them. As you might expect they’re not so keen on drawing attention to themselves.
Finally, I asked La Force if she knew that I’m an introvert.
“No I did not know,” she said. “Did you know I was one?”
You can reach Pam at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @pamsaulsby or facebook/pam.saulsby