The split in the population between introversion and extroversion is about 50/50. What strengths are uniquely yours as an introvert? Of course, not all introverts are alike and we have a variety of gifts. No matter what your gifts and strengths you can get what you want out of life with a little understanding.
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The Many and Differing Gifts of Introverts
Hello, and welcome to the Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for introverts. I am your host, David Hall and creator of quietandstrong.com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally we will air each episode on Monday morning. Be sure to subscribe.
So Why I am doing this podcast? I hear so many stories of people who feel misunderstood or broken. There has been a lot of conversation in recent years about introversion, which is awesome, but people are still confused. Am I an introvert, but wait I like people so maybe I am in the middle. I Interacted with someone online, and this person bemoaned the fact that they were an introvert, if only they had been born an extrovert.
Or there is talk about introverts in the pandemic. All of you introverts just love being in lockdown, right? The pandemic is hard on everyone, maybe in different ways. I am happy for the increased awareness and conversation, but we need more. It is better than when I was a kid and this wasn’t talked about at all. I have always valued my family and friends. Relationships were always important to me. Looking back at my childhood, in addition to spending time with friends and family, I also valued some solitude. I needed some and didn’t mind sometimes. As a child I had a great imagination and could play for hours with a mismatched set of action figures. As I got older I was actually involved in organizing parties with my friends and loud ones at that. But I would ride my bike by myself to a far away mall and spend the afternoon in the arcade. Enjoying both the solitary ride and then video games. I loved to think and be philosophical, solve puzzles, and had lots of ideas. I definitely couldn’t have described my strengths and needs as an introvert but looking back I had them. My understanding of introversion and my strengths and needs took place over a much longer period of time. I have discovered when I am living and working in my introverted strengths and making sure my needs are met I am far more successful and happier than I have ever been.
A few years ago I was reading many books on introversion and I was starting the Quiet and Strong blog. I was discovering many great authors on the topic of introversion and of course most were fellow introverts. I went into a Barnes and Noble looking for a particular book on introversion. They did not have it and as I was leaving disappointed, “Introvert Power” by Dr. Laurie Helgoe seemed to jump off a shelf close to the door. (Maybe it was the bright yellow cover). Yes, Introvert Power! What a great title. This book had many great insights and was one that was instrumental in shaping my understanding of introversion. Here is one quote of many from the book “This book is about embracing the power of introversion. It’s about indulging, melting into, drinking in, immersing ourselves in the joy, the genius, and the power of who we naturally are – and not just on the occasional retreat, but in the living of our lives.” This book was life-changing for me and I highly recommend it/ Another key finding was that Dr. Helgoe presented some research that shows that introverts make up half the population! Does that number surprise you? Keep in mind that there are many types of introverts. Many of them are not quiet. But they share a love of ideas, but not the same ideas, and have a natural preference to spend time in their inner world of thoughts and feelings.
Stereotype half of the population? Keep in mind that we have many different gifts that go along with our introversion. While I think that introversion and extroversion are very important parts of our personalities, we are far more complex human beings and don’t all fit neatly into the dichotomy of introversion and extroversion.
No one person has all gifts. I do think there is purpose in this as we need each other and there is an interdependence among people. The world needs you to be who you are.
In an interview, asked if introverts were more creative. I was thrown off for a second as I hadn’t thought of creativity in this way. I don’t think creativity itself is based on introversion or extroversion, but it may take a different approach between people. I like to think I am creative with strategies and thoughts, but my artist ability probably was arrested around 3rd grade. I am still drawing stick figures.
No matter what your gifts and strengths you can get what you want out of life with a little understanding. Like great books from authors like Laurie Helgoe. I also benefited from assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which introversion and extroversion is a part, but there are other important gifts and strengths that it uncovers. I have also benefited from Clifton Strengths and also the Disc. These aren’t specifically about introversion, but other aspects of our personalities. And outside of books and assessments I have done lots of personal reflection! Introverts are good at this!
So, through many years of experience, study and self-reflection, I’ve learned that I’m an introvert and great gifts come from this. The truth is I have different skills and strengths and different desires than my extroverted friends. And that it’s OK. I no longer want to be an extrovert, but through this journey, I have learned how to get the happiness and peace I need by understanding my natural strengths and needs. Part of this journey also included understanding which introverted traits were natural for me, such as thinking before I speak and needing more time alone than my extroverted counterparts, versus what aspects of my personality could be changed, such as having more confidence and an ability to better navigate social settings. For example, I used to struggle with networking. I so wanted to be like extroverts I saw around me who appeared more comfortable at networking events. As I got to know myself and my strengths, I learned new skills that have helped me to become much better at networking. However, I learned that even though I could be better as this type of social situation, I definitely had different desires for being social than my extroverted colleagues. An extrovert may really enjoy “working the room” and getting to know 50 strangers immediately, where I would gladly trade 50 short conversations for one or two deep conversations. Neither is good or bad but when you learn about yourself, you get to know what you want and how to accomplish it. Introverts naturally focus on their inner world of ideas where extroverts spend more time naturally focusing on the outer world around them. Of course, everyone thinks and everyone pays attention to what’s going on around them, but the amount of time spent paying attention internally or externally varies from introvert to extrovert. In fact, the amount of time spent on inward focus even varies quite a bit from one introvert to the next. Again not all introverts are alike. For example, as an introvert, I spend a lot of time thinking and this leads to great strategy and creativity. I am a big picture person, where another introvert may focus more on details. I may be more of a thinker while another may be more in touch with the feelings of others. I like things to be scheduled and a fellow introvert may be more relaxed and spontaneous. What strengths are uniquely yours? Do you recognize that others – whether introverts or extroverts – have different strengths than you, but one strength is not better than another? Sometimes it’s hard to see strengths that are not as outwardly apparent as other gifts, but with some introspection, you can discover those things you are great at and understand how to use these to your advantage.As introverts, we may have different desires, values, skills, and abilities, but we have in common a love of ideas and concepts. We are great thinkers and can use this skill to identify and hone our other gifts. I’m going to list some of these possible gifts and some might apply to you and some might not.
As a deep thinker, you may be an amazing problem solver. Often with introverts, great ideas come as we let problems or situations roll around in our minds. We’re able to look at complex issues and see all the details and how all the pieces fit together and come up with a brilliant solution or next steps. You may be very analytical and ask why did that happen or what will happen in the future. You may be able to anticipate future needs or ask what if? You may spot patterns in information and be able to work through some complex situations. Bill Gates, a well-known introvert, used his introverted problem-solving skills to develop his multi-billion-dollar Microsoft brand. Another famous introvert, J.K. Rowling, used her incredible imagination to create the spectacular world of Harry Potter. And Warren Buffet – who has been called the world’s richest introvert – used his analytical skills to amass his investment fortune.
As an introvert, you probably have a desire to feed your mind and do lots of reading and researching and collecting of information. This can make you extremely valuable as an expert in a particular area. It may help you think about how to solve problems. You may be curious and always reading up on the latest trends to explore, gather and synthesize the latest information. What is working? Or what is broken? What could life be like if…? You may have many ideas. For some introverts, these ideas may come non-stop. You may have flashes of insight as you reflect on various aspects of life. You may be very creative. You may feel emotion deeply and use this gift to understand others. Likely, you’re a dreamer and have very innovative ideas.
You may struggle with “winging” it, but often introverts are the masters of preparation. With a little work ahead of time you can put together a brilliant presentation or speech or prepare for that important meeting by considering all the necessary details.
You may have the ability to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, which allows you to work on complex problems or projects. You may be very methodical and relish working through statistics or data, or you may have a great talent for sifting through small details.
You may love to theorize and think about better ways of doing things as you gain insights on how to better your life or how to better the lives of others. You probably have a great imagination.
You might be a great observer of people, or have a deep understanding of the emotions and feelings of others. You may be a fantastic listener, or you may be intuitive to the needs of those around you. You may have a skill for seeing the strengths in others and helping them put those gifts to use.
You are likely thoughtful and you may be skilled at asking relevant questions or looking at exceptional situations and coming up with amazing insights. You may come up with questions that no one else has asked. As a reflective thinker, maybe you get excited and challenged as you think through the mysteries of the universe.
You probably enjoy a good thought-provoking book or movie. You may enjoy some time alone or at least not mind being alone. You may want to spend time with a close friend or small group of friends. Maybe sometimes you DO want to go to a loud party. Or maybe you don’t. And that’s OK too.
Managing Your Needs
Part of understanding yourself as an introvert means understanding and caring for the needs that come along with being an introvert. Just like an extrovert NEEDS to have a level of social interaction or they may feel trapped and alone, introverts generally need some quiet time to recharge and clear their minds. You will need some time each day to do some quiet thinking, recharge, and just let your mind wander. How much time we each need is going to vary from person to person, and even day to day. The key is to take that alone time that you need. Also, remember, if someone doesn’t need this alone time they may not understand your need, but that doesn’t make your need any less valid. It’s very important to understand what we need and to be able to articulate these needs to others. Take some time each day to let your mind relax so you can do your best work.
Introverts are often thought of as only wanting to be alone, or not liking people. But in truth, we all need connection with others. It is going to vary how much people-time we each need or want. Of course, you need some time alone, but you also need to have time to share ideas or feelings and make connections. As introverts, we often want to have those deep conversations, but sometimes it is important to do a little small talk to get to those deep conversations we crave. Give it a chance and you may even enjoy a little small talk.
What Are Your Strengths As An Introvert?
You probably have many more needs and many more strengths than the few listed here. Some may be related to your introversion, and some may not be. The key is first, understanding that you do have gifts, and second, to recognize what you need to do to use those gifts successfully. Understanding introversion can help with our communication skills, productivity, relationships, and overall happiness. Understanding introversion can help us overcome challenges such as shyness. What strengths do you have?
Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out quietandstrong.com. I will add social media channels to the show notes. Send me topics or questions and we can address those on the show. So many great things about being an introvert and so we need those to be understood. Let’s keep the conversation going. Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be Strong!