When people think "entrepreneur", they tend to think extrovert. In fact, when people think "leader" and "change maker", they tend to think "extrovert". But that’s not necessarily a profile that fits all successful entrepreneurs and leaders.
Yesterday, a reader sent me this lovely Susan Cain video from TedTalks. In it, Susan Cain a – former Wall Street lawyer who eventually embraced her introvert self and turned to writing – talks about why the world needs introverts. She notes that Rosa Parks, Ghandi and other introverts have changed the world, even though they were reluctant to take the stage. In fact, a quick search of Google, turns up other introverted leaders (OK – this link is now expired, but don’t lose hope!),
Some people think you need to be an extrovert to be in consulting. After all, you have to get out there and talk to people. But I disagree. I’ve seen many successful introverts — in a variety of fields. Sure, introverts may find other people draining. But that doesn’t mean introverts can’t be in business. It just means they need to find a way to address their weaknesses – just like any other entrepreneur. With a little planning, introverts can network. They can sell. They can find ways around cold calling. They can find ways to run their businesses from a place of strength.
As I mention in Discover Your Inner Consultant and Consulting Fees, it’s important to get to know who you are – your strengths and your weaknesses. And being an introvert carries strengths. Introverts are great listeners, show restraint, respect boundaries and give sober second thought to situations. And those are all great qualities for introverts.
That being said, I’m somewhere in between introvert and extrovert. I like being around people, making connections, sharing experiences and so on. But I also know I need to recharge and spend time alone each day. And that I often do my best work on my own. For me, running a successful business and having a happy life means making sure I have enough time to connect with people and enough time to recharge. And it means surrounding myself with serious introverts – who can listen and give extra time and thought to things – and with extroverts – who’ll go out and connect with a million people. And, really, that’s probably a good approach for anyone, no matter whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between.
How about you?