About Being an Introvert

This story had crossed my path earlier in the month and I tucked it away just as a source for inspiration someday.  It crossed my path a couple of times today which I thought was a little strange and so decided to take a few moments to share my thoughts.

The article was "Nine Signs That You Might Be an Introvert" and appeared in the Huffington Post near the first of December.

My wife comments all the time about how she can’t believe that I can get up in front of hundreds of people and give a talk to lead a workshop.  Apparently, one of my endearing qualities years ago was my shyness.  I still think of myself as shy and introverted.  You’ll usually find me away from the madding crowd and, as I worked my way through the nine signs, I found that it described me to a "T".

When I first became a consultant, I took peer coaching pretty seriously.  On one occasion, I actually had the gall to ask my superintendent to look for a number of things in a presentation to principals.  One of the points that came up during our post session interview involved my concern about nerves and my concern about being an introvert.  It was early in my career and I thought that there was still a chance for a career change if it wasn’t working out.  After all, an introvert can’t lead, can then?

I could have, and still could, go through all nine signs and point to specifics about me that would support the notion of introvert.  He made a few interesting observations that have stuck with me.

First, he indicated that he might agree that I’m introverted but that it wasn’t bad.  He felt that it might serve me well if I acknowledge it and use it when I do some serious self-analysis.  He felt that an introvert might be in the best position to be honest about one’s abilities.

Secondly, he made a comment that described me with a term that I’d never heard before.  I had viewed introvert/extrovert as a continuum.  For the moment, he saw me as a "Closet Extrovert", able to overcome the introvert in order to get the job done.  That description certainly gave me a great deal to think about. 

Thirdly, he felt that it all worked because of the passion for the topic and the desire to get the message across in the most effective way possible.  Later on, I realized what he was getting it.  From a coaching perspective, it made so much sense.  I’ve been in presentations with big name speakers who just mail it in.  You can tell that the message is the same delivered time and time again with no consideration for the audience.  For me, the best speakers are the ones that "walk the walk" and at least make some effort to know the audience and try to reach a meeting of the minds.  It makes so much sense; after all, isn’t that what makes for a successful classroom experience.

I really like the way that the article describes the "nine signs".  I would have no hesitation in suggesting that an analysis of the nine would be a great discussion with students, particularly secondary students, who are trying to decide just who they are and who they want to be.  By its definition, "introvert" seems to have a negative connotation to it.  In reality, recognizing it may be one of the best things that a person can do.

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