What is Introversion?
Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” According to the Myers-Briggs inventory, introverts are more likely to think, “I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.”
Introversion vs. Shyness and Social Anxiety
While studies have estimated that introverts are one-third to one-half of the U.S. population, being social and outgoing is prized in our culture so it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. Mistaking introversion for shyness is a common error. See our previous post Social Anxiety Does Not Equal Introversion for more information about the differences between introversion and social anxiety.
Bias Against Introversion is Slowly Improving
According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, “Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to “pass” as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.”
Due to the popularity of Cain’s book, “Now people think it’s cool to be an introvert,” said Amy J. C. Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School quoted in a recent New York Times article about Cain’s Quiet Revolution. She added that at least half her students tell her they have read Ms. Cain’s book. “I love that the students are no longer ashamed,” Cuddy said. It seems Brian R. Little, a professor of psychology at Cambridge University, quoted in a New York Times Op Talk column, agrees, “You could almost say that introversion has become the new cool…there has been a recognition of the quiet strengths of introversion.”
Famous Introverts Who Have Changed The World
Many highly influential engineers and scientists, politicians, business people, actresses, actors and comedians, athletes, singers and musicians, movie producers and directors, writers and others in all fields are introverts. Here are some highly successful introverts who have changed the world with their gifts, to name just a few:
- Albert Einstein
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Bill Gates
- Michael Jordan
- Audrey Hepburn
- David Letterman
- Abraham Lincoln
- Larry Page (co-founder of Google)
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- J.K. Rowling
- Steven Spielberg
- Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple)
How Can I Be A Proud Introvert?
On the Quiet Revolution website, you can take an introversion test as well as find stories written by Quiet Revolutionaries, individuals who “embody the spirit of Quiet Revolution: strong yet gentle, firm but kind, they are as indomitable as they are unassuming.” Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. Introverts form the majority of gifted people. Moreover, it appears that introversion increases with intelligence so that more than 75% of people with an IQ above 160 are introverted. In Susan Cain’s TED Talk, one of the most watched of all time with almost 12 million views, she argues that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world and should be encouraged and celebrated.