Tuesday, July 10, 2012

READing Your Style: The Power of Shyness

The Power of Shyness
As I mentioned in my July Letter from the Editor, this month I was going to be focusing on discovering our strengths and learning how to make them as strong as possible. In my fashion, the first distinction to make for oneself is if you are classified as an introvert, extrovert, or in between (an ambivert). I would like to direct you to an article that ran in the February 6, 2012 issue of Time Magazine where the cover story title read, “The Power of Shyness”. When I came across this issue a while back, I was immediately intrigued for I knew it would touch on the subject of introversion and extroversion.

In America, advantage definitely goes to the extroverted. As kids we were all conditioned to believe that the ideal personality traits are to speak up, be willing to seek out social opportunities, and to make lots of friends.  Others who are incapable of showing these promises are viewed as timid and shy, and contrary to the latter, by definition, they are considered weak, uninteresting, and therefore, incapable of being successful in a society geared toward the outgoing and adventurous. “The Power of Shyness” by Bryan Walsh explores the upside of being an introvert, and why being an extrovert can actually be quite overrated.

Mohandas Gandhi, Joe Dimaggio, Hilary Clinton, Moses, Warren Buffett, Manmohan Singh, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Barack Obama are all considered intoverted leaders.

As I explained in my Special Valentine’s Day post, I have distinguished that I am an introvert, so you can imagine my excitement when I came across an article that exposed the advantages of being one of the quite ones when it is popularly perceived that to be successful one must become a bombastic social maven. In grade school, I knew I didn’t fit with the wild and rowdy boys of my classes, but I took much more interest perfecting my grades, doing what I had to do, and hanging with people who stimulated my mind creatively and intellectually. Considering the pack of kids who thought like me was quite small, (most everyone working on acting “extrovertly”), I learned to mingle, and be able to get along with everyone in their own respects, but I always wondered why it was so hard for me to find real comfort in social settings.

Now, having moved past childhood insecurities, I wish I would have known some of the information Walsh provides us with in this article for I probably would have been able to save myself some angst in wondering why I found social situations taxing. Instead of trying to compensate for my “shyness”, I would have accepted, as I do now, that my unique set of strengths simply does not include being overly social. I hope that for my fellow introverts, if you felt as I did as a child, hopefully this article will help to put your life more into perspective so you can find what your unique strengths are so you don’t feel that uncompromising pressure to be like everyone else. Accept that you simply think in a different way and have more to offer in other areas of life. The chart I created below highlights major points from the article that explain these differences in thinking.

Because there is not much hype related to the benefits of introversion, for those that still battle with the insecurities being a introvert can bring, I have paraphrased much of the article in the chart below to show what it is about introverts that make them just as important in life as extroverts. In my fashion, if you still feel down on yourself for not being the “outgoing type”, the most helpful piece of advice from this article is not to down yourself for not being so, but understand that introverts make great leaders in social situations too! In my fashion, once one accepts being an introvert you can use that knowledge of yourself to build yourself into a strong leader, in your own right, and stop trying to adhere to the tendencies of extroverted society. 

Finish my summary of  The Power of Shyness by clicking through to read more on the benifits of introversion, and how to best use your stengtrhs as an introvert.

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