One-half to one-third of all the people you know is an introvert.
Being an introvert does not mean you are shy. People are shy because they are worried about being judged. Being an introvert means you’re most as ease and have your best ideas when you are not overly stimulated in social settings. An extrovert is in their zone of genius working in groups or places with lots of social interaction.
Culturally in the US we are biased towards extroverts. When I went to school, we sat in rows and had some autonomy. Now my kids sit in groups and constantly do group work and are seen as outsiders if they want to work alone.
At work we sit in open seating areas with limited privacy and numerous social distractions. Some places even have completely open seating where you are not assigned a desk, but pick a different one to work at every day.
So how do you succeed at work when it seems like extroverts are at an advantage?
First, remember that how you receive inspiration does not determine how valuable it is. Knowing how to get that inspiration and being able to draw out ideas is what will make you a great leader and able to reach your goals. Your ideas will speak for themselves. Stay focused on adding value and less worried about saying it louder than the person next to you.
Second, trust the process. At Amazon we write docs and spend the first part of a meeting quietly and independently reading it. Everyone takes this time to form their own opinion, think of questions, and assess the proposal. This alone levels the playing field for introverts and extroverts. Trust this process.
Third, create an environment that enables you to do your best work. Find your own “space” at work that allows you to quietly get your work done. Find a rooftop deck, a comfy chair in a quiet corner, or an empty floor in another building. Create your own private work place if needed. Additionally, purposefully plan quiet thinking time in your day. Schedule a daily meeting with yourself where you get outside or go to your “space” and just think. Don’t try to get things done, but spend the time thinking about your project to get that inspiration.
People get promoted based on data around the results they drive. Not on who is the most outgoing. Stop believing you are disadvantaged because you are an introvert. Ghandi, Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt did not let it stop them. Don’t let how you get inspiration hold you back from reaching your goals.
P.S. Want help being a successful introvert? Let’s jump on the phone and come up with a plan to get you there. Sign up for free coaching HERE.