I'm a born introvert.
I guess that's my claim to fame, but it's not exactly a source of pride. Maybe it's more a source of consternation and something to overcome.
Introversion is not always the most pleasant way to live. Of my four kids, two are diehard introverts, and I've watched how they've had to learn to overcome some of the inherent traits, like a fear of crowds or constantly analyzing things without ever acting. Extroverts have their own baggage, of course. Yet, being an introvert is a lifelong battle to break out of a shell once in a awhile.
Interestingly enough, I'm still learning. In fact, I've come to a few recent realizations about being an introvert that have helped me understand this peculiar personality type. Knowing these can help you in business -- and in life.
1. Including others in your note-taking process improves the note
I'll post an entire article about this soon, mostly because it involves some research and advice from two really smart MIT professors. One of them is Deborah Ancona, the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management, a Professor of Organization Studies, Director of the MIT Leadership Center and a faculty member at MIT Sloan Executive Education. (Have you noticed that smart people have much longer titles?) She advised me to include other people when I take notes at conferences. I used the technique at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month and it worked famously. You include other people when you take notes because they add to the note. Who knew? As an introvert, I always created my little private thought world and felt a sense of accomplishment because I had a great idea. By including others, the idea became even greater. It's an amazing discovery.
2. You can only talk to one person at a time
Wow. I didn't realize this until I held a round-table recently and it became a bit of a problem, mostly because I was leading the round-table. I'm not sure why no one ever told me this fact about introverts. You can be in a group setting, a larger group, or even with only two friends. You can only talk to one person at a time. (Unless you are not technically a true introvert.) Extroverts can talk to the room somehow. I am not sure how they do it, to be honest. My takeaway is that it helps explain some of the anxiety introverts feel in groups.
3. Introverts can lead, but they have to work much harder at it
That brings me to another point, one that Ancona also told me about. Introverts can lead. It's just that they do have to work much harder and be much more intentional. It might be related to my previous point: It's harder for introverts to lead effectively when they can only talk to people one-on-one. We have a harder time getting the attention of the crowd. The good news is that leadership is a skill you can learn. It might mean taking more classes, asking for more feedback, overcoming some awkwardness and dealing with conflicts more effectively. Don't coast. Introverts can't just sit back and analyze, we have to be proactive in leadership.