Many of us are surprised to find later in life that we are introverts. This is particularly confusing for those who are outgoing and socially skilled. Some of the greatest leaders and contributors to society have been identified as introverts, including Bill Gates, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Al Gore, Rosa Parks, Frederic Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak, Eleanor Roosevelt, and JK Rowling. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between introverts and entrepreneurship.
I did not realize I was an introvert until I was in my forties. How did I miss this all my life? Aren’t introverts the shy, socially awkward people who dislike going out or being among other people?
The terms introversion and extraversion were popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, although both the popular understanding and psychological usage differ from his original intent. He was one of the first people to define introversion and extraversion in a psychological context. In Jung’s Psychological Types, he theorizes that each person falls into one of two categories, the introvert and the extravert. These two psychological types Jung compares to ancient archetypes, Apollo and Dionysus.
The introvert is likened with Apollo, who shines light on understanding. The introvert is focused on the internal world of reflection, dreaming and vision. Thoughtful and insightful, the introvert can sometimes be uninterested in joining the activities of others. The extravert is associated with Dionysus, interested in joining the activities of the world. The extravert is focused on the outside world of objects, sensory perception and action. Energetic and lively, the extravert may lose their sense of self in the intoxication of Dionysian pursuits.
The introvert revolution has shined a light on a lot of misinformation and lack of information about us. However, the stereotypes of introverts as wallflowers, computer geeks whose only interactions are online, and crazy cat ladies still abound.
Generally speaking, introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved, and introspective than the majority of the population. Unlike extraverts who gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to “recharge” by spending a period of time alone.
Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, published in 2012 reports that studies indicate that 33 to 50% of the American population are introverts. She brought to light many new age ideas on this topic, including the precept that introverts and entrepreneurship may be a perfect fir.
For one, not all introverts are shy. Some are, but not all. And introverts don’t all choose to spend time with their cats instead of people, though some do.
So, who are introverts and what makes us who we are?
- Approximately 30 – 50% of people are introverts.
- Introverts get their energy from time alone, rather than from social stimulation.
- When we spend too much time socializing, we need alone time to recharge.
- We prefer to spend time with small intimate groups and relate to others on a deeper level.
- We don’t want to be extroverts – or different from who we are – most of the time.
- Some social situations are stressful because of the small talk and need to “be on” – not because of social anxiety – though some have social anxiety.
- As introverts, we enjoy solitary things like gardening, reading, being in nature, and similar pastimes.
- We may spend a lot of time “in our heads” imagining or thinking of things that seem more interesting than what is happening in the outside world.
These traits don’t make us any stranger than extroverts. Some people find it odd to strike up a conversation with strangers or spend time in loud, crowded places where a conversation is impossible.
Introverts or extroverts are not right or wrong – simply different. Research shows that it is possible to determine by four months of age which children will grow up to be introverts. We’re born this way.
Introverts and Entrepreneurship
With these differences in wiring, the needs and care of introverts may be different from others. Relationships are generally deep and intimate and the social circle may be small but relatable.
Work lives may be solitary. It doesn’t mean that introverts aren’t team players, but that they do their best work in an environment that allows them to dive deep into their thoughts and create without additional stimulation and distractions.
All of this leads me to the precept that entrepreneurship is an excellent choice for an introvert. When I look back over the decades I spent in the work force as a classroom teacher and as a real estate broker and appraiser I realize I was the happiest and most productive when I had extended periods of time by myself.
At school I preferred to eat lunch alone. Over the years some of my more quiet students (ones I now understand were introverts) would join me for a quiet forty minutes of solitude each day. We would talk, but it was a calm and peaceful gathering away from the cacophony and chaos of the school setting. At one school where I taught the teachers and administrators began to refer to me as being antisocial. I can remember making a sign to put on my door at lunch that said “Meeting of the Antisocial Club – Do Not Disturb!” I became defensive when the truth was that I was being bullied. I love this quote by Audrey Hepburn…
During my years in real estate appraisal I was the one who volunteered to take the assignments farthest from my home. I looked forward to hours of driving to my destinations all alone. My path took me along the Pacific Ocean and it was a wonderful way to spend my time while earning my living.
Think about what I’ve written here as you build your business as an online entrepreneur. Observe your own behavior and think back to work and social situations to determine if you may be an introvert as well. It is my belief that introverts and entrepreneurship is an excellent fit and this just might change your life forever.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you are new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my comprehensive training on how to set up Funnels That Click and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.