Life Wellbeing Quiet achievers: The rise of the introverts
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Quiet achievers: The rise of the introverts

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The introvert is a victim of mistaken identity, and recognition of them as the world’s more successful, desirable people is on the verge.

Introverts often make better leaders but are often overlooked. They are generally more knowledgeable and do better in education. Many make significant discoveries, are mesmerising public speakers and also dominate rich lists.

Michael Jordan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford, Bill Gates, David Letterman, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Van Gogh are just some wildly successful introverts.

In the NY Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain explores the myths and truths of introversion and extroversion. An example is the experience of Asian-American students who feel disconnected from the loud, backslapping culture of US schools. She questions the boisterous, dominant nature of business culture. An introvert herself, she makes the bold move to set us all straight.

Cain points out that introversion qualities such as seriousness, sensitivity and shyness are treated as disappointing attributes and need to be controlled or overcome.

Extroverts speak fast at high volume and as a result are regarded as smarter and more interesting.

Let’s explode some myths.

Myth Introverts are shy.
Truth Introverts don’t like small talk.

Myth Extroverts are the life of the party, always having a good time
Truth Extroverts work very hard at being the life of the party and feel lost, bored or helpless without an audience – or worse – having to entertain themselves.

Myth Introverts don’t like talking
Truth They do like talking but listening is equally important.

Myth Introverts are highly strung.
Truth Introverts are far more relaxing to be around than extroverts because they don’t need to impress or get approval.

Myth Introverts are no fun.
Truth They have more types of fun outside traditional stereotypical social games.

Myth Extroverts are happier than introverts.
Truth The opposite is true. The extrovert depends on the external world for everything from stimulation to approval and self-worth. An introvert can access all that from within.

Myth You’re either an introvert or an extrovert.
Truth There’s also a third category omniverts – a little from column A, a little from column B.

First-world Western culture demands we be bold and sociable, we are encouraged to ‘come out of our shells’ and the media reinforces the stereotype of the extrovert as the best way to be. Anything other than this is treated as a being in a ‘mood’ or even more inaccurately – a disorder.

Chances are at least half the world’s population are introverts many of whom have no mental disorder whatsoever.

In fact, you know you are a happy introvert when:

  • Silence is okay
  • A serious resting face is normal
  • You love a cancelled party
  • Being by yourself is fun, rewarding, relaxing and stimulating all at the same time
  • Eating alone doesn’t feel tragic
  • You take time to complete a task – doing it properly is better than doing it fast
  • You like people in small doses
  • You listen more than you talk
  • Solitary activities like reading are fun
  • You have a space where you can go and shut the door

The simplified difference between an introvert and an extrovert is this:

An extrovert is re-charged by social interaction.
An introvert is re-charged by solitude.

Solitude has a transcendent power. It gives a person time and space free of distraction to come up with creative solutions to problems.

Some famous introverts and their achievements include:

Albert Einstein – Theory Of Relativity and received the Nobel Prize for Physics, 1921.

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Rosa Parks – civil rights activist. This soft-spoken woman boldly stood up to a busload of people and said ‘no’ to moving from her seat.

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JK Rowling – author of the Harry Potter series

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Steven Spielberg – Oscar winning filmmaker

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Steve Wozniak – Co-founder Apple

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Christina Aguilera – performer

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Audrey Hepburn – actress – ‘I love being by myself.’

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And Mahatma Ghandi – the non-violent revolutionary who beautifully said ‘in a gentle way, you can shake the world’.

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The Revenge Of The Introverts has begun.

Renée Brack is a journalist and omnivert.

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