3 Selfish Strategies That Help Introverts Succeed

By Suzanne Short

Suzanne Short
Suzanne Short considers herself an unofficial Xerox ambassador. For 20 years, she’s shared her passion for the company through creative means, using words, photographs, skits and the occasional headstand.

People usually don’t believe me when I say I’m an introvert. They see me as outgoing, as one who doesn’t even rank public speaking on her list of fears. They call up a crazy antic or two to prove I’m wrong, but it’s their stereotype of an introvert that’s wrong.

Being an introvert is not about being shy, but about how we react to, and recharge from, the world around us. Whereas extroverts draw their energy from being around other people, introverts need time alone to reflect and renew.

I gravitate toward roles in training or sales – two areas where extroverts can dominate. After a full day of “being on,” other people can head home (or to a social function!) more energized than when they arrived. I tend to wander the parking lot, completely spent and unable to find my car, let alone extend my sociability. It’s not that I work that much harder, it’s that I’m an introvert.

Understanding my introversion helped me piece together some of life’s puzzle. I’ve learned that selfishness can be a good thing – in fact, it’s critical to an introvert’s success. I know that when I’m selfish, I have much more to give others.

Isolate

Being social depletes my energy. To recharge, I need to isolate myself, especially when I’m the ringleader of a training session. I find the solitude I need by retreating, either physically or mentally, during breaks and lunches. I may go for a walk, even if it’s only to my car to listen to some tunes. If I decide to stay put, I lock the door until we reconvene. I used to feel guilty doing this, but I’ve learned that a trainer on break is a magnet for an idle extrovert.

Cultivate

I nurture myself in order to withstand the demands certain situations place on me. During periods of sustained socializing, I cultivate rituals: I eat well, hydrate often, stick my face in the sun and sleep deeply. I often wake up earlier than I need to, taking advantage of energy I know I won’t have at the end of the day to reconnect with my thoughts. When my body is strong and my mind is centered, my energy flows.

Celebrate

Until I understood my introversion, I would make excuses for wanting to spend time alone or beat myself up while searching for my elusive car. Now, I celebrate my natural tendencies and appreciate how they complement the unique qualities of extroverts. Both are as different as can be, but that’s what makes life vibrant.

My rally cry may be surprising, but it’s true: I’m an introvert, hear me roar!

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15 Comments

  1. Sophie Vandebroek May 11, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne, I very much resonate with your 3 strategies! Even though I am an introvert, I thrive at my CTO role which requires lots of traditionally extrovert behaviors. I have accepted and in fact enjoy my “isolation and cultivation” time so I can recharge and be a passionate innovator. A great book recently published is “Quiet, the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”. It shows how many of the great contributions to society were made by introverts and the critical role we play in organizations.

    • Suzanne May 14, 2015 - Reply

      Sophie, I agree with your review of the book. It’s a great resource for deeper understanding!

  2. Carolin May 14, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne, this article speaks to me. I am a full-fledged introvert but I enjoy public speaking and training situations very much. Your three strategies make absolute sense to me. Funny enough, I wrote a similar piece yesterday with 9 strategies that are not very unlike yours: http://www.cwcoaching.net/9-tips-to-get-your-energy-back-up-busy-introverts/

    • Suzanne May 14, 2015 - Reply

      Carolin, sharing strategies like these helps us all lead roar-worthy lives!

  3. brenda mcdermott May 18, 2015 - Reply

    HI Suzanne thank you for sharing a great Article and helpful points that I can relate to – being an Introvert myself I have a much more understanding of who I am and why – and also the strengths Introverts bring to the table – I did read the book QUIET last year and finally feel I understand myself . We have a lot of strengths to offer our colleagues – its just sometimes no one is listening due to the “noise” , apologies for my humor , and thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective on this subject.

  4. Cheryl Adas May 18, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne, thank you for sharing your thoughts and insight on this topic. I struggled with similar issues and appreciate your spreading the word out about us introverts!

  5. Suveda Thiagaraj May 18, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne & Caroline, thank you sharing these strategies … I’ve had difficultly explaining to people that I’m an introvert since I come across as not a shy person and as a leader. People find them to be conflicting attributes!!!

  6. Yoamny Feliz May 19, 2015 - Reply

    wow…thanks for sharing. Article helped me put things in perspective and how to manage work more easily as an introvert.

  7. Ryan Crozier May 19, 2015 - Reply

    Suzy, this was a fantastic read, thank you. Being an extrovert myself, I found it very interesting to hear from a completely different perspective. I can totally understand how your three strategies would be successful. This was wonderfully put and explained. Thanks again.

    • Suzy May 19, 2015 - Reply

      Ryan, I’ve been enjoying the feedback from ‘my clan’ – other knowing and nodding introverts. Your feedback, as an extrovert, adds a delightful dimension to the mix!

  8. Nancy Engert May 19, 2015 - Reply

    Thank you.

  9. George Wong May 20, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne,
    Thank you so much for defining what introversion means, and how to be effective. I will definitely be applying the principles you shared. I believe you just helped me to become more effective. Thanks!

  10. Tammy Crowder May 20, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne – The light just went on! Thanks for sharing your perspective, as an introvert myself I had often wondered about what always seemed to be a conflict – I’m not shy, I just need that recharge time. And Sophie thank you for the book suggestion, it’s going on my must read list. Thanks again.

  11. Miki Johnstone June 30, 2015 - Reply

    What a brilliant article! It describes me to a T and has helped me understand myself. Thank you!

  12. Quan Q September 11, 2015 - Reply

    Suzanne,
    Thank you for sharing your three strategies that help introverts succeed. There was a time when I had to talk for hours in a training session and felt exhausted afterward. I had to take a break to mentally and physically recharge. Some solitude time does help.

    Thank you!

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