Today I had the pleasure of listening to Susan Cain speak about the power of introverts. She authored a book of the same name, which will be featured in Oprah magazine this month.
Introverts are people who process internally before they speak, and can focus deeply for long periods of time. They also get their energy from being alone or with a couple of friends. Needless to say, most school and work environments are not very friendly to introverts.
During my many years of teaching, I have witnessed the amazing gifts of introverts. They were always the ones with the profound insights and the ability to make keen connections. This all would have been lost had the course not had assignments that support how introverts learn and process. Because we had weekly journaling assignments and online discussions, the voices of the introverts could be heard and their contributions experienced by not only me, but their peers as well.
Companies everywhere can benefit from the power of introverts — the best teams are always a mix of introverts and extroverts who value each other’s strengths and leverage them to succeed at the highest levels.
Giving introverts the opportunities to bring their full selves to any experience benefits all concerned. The classroom achieves higher levels of learning, the boardroom achieves higher levels of success, and the bedroom achieves higher levels of… well, you get the idea. Both of my husbands (I’m stopping at 2, I swear!) have been introverts and I know that I am a better person because they balanced my extrovert personality, in the best ways.
The universe always creates things in balance and the introvert/extrovert continuum is another example of the yin yang principle at its best.
Cain argues that we are poised on the edge of an important revolution in our society, where introverts will finally be valued for what they bring. She likens this to the 1950s and 1960s, just before the Women’s Liberation movement which allowed the many talents and gifts of women to finally be seen and valued.
I encourage you to read Cain’s book and watch her amazing TED talk, which was rated by Bill Gates as one of his top 13 favorites. And consider how you can encourage and value the introverts in your life.