I'm sitting in my statistics class, in the perfect seat. It's the perfect seat because I've calculated it. It's close enough to the front that my professor knows I care, which I do, and it's surrounded by other people who will raise their hands, so I don't have to.
It's not raising my hand that strikes fear in my gut; it's what happens after I raise my hand. It's
everyone in the class looking at me for an answer, the professor lingering on my every word.
Based on that reaction, you might be surprised to hear that I love public speaking -- in fact, I'm
nationally ranked. But for that I prepared, spent countless hours going over every word. In this
class, I don't have time to go over every word; I don't have time to prepare. Those of you that
get a high every time the professor calls on you for an answer have no idea where I'm coming
from. But those of you who look at your desk when the professor calls for an answer, those
of you who sit in the back of the room because you believe that those in the front will always
answer the questions -- those of you get me. And I get you. Because I am you, I just work really
hard to hide it.
Truth is: I'm an introvert.
I'm not deathly afraid of public speaking, and I certainly don't consider myself shy. I just don't
crave large scale social interaction. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, I
just prefer when it's one on one. I even enjoy meeting new people, just not 50 at a time. Why? I
get overwhelmed, I find it exhausting and I just plain don't like it.
I enjoy being alone. I like my time to decompress, to relax, to recover from social stimulation.
However, in a society that focuses more on how loud we're speaking than on what we're actually saying, being an introvert is no cupcake. Although it's not as sweet as a dessert, it does have its
1. What happens in Vegas ... goes right into my bank account
I won't even walk into a room without thinking about who I'm going to have to talk to and what
I'm going to have to say. Each time I approach a new person I weigh the risk -- will they want
to talk forever? Will they make me talk to others? Every time I approach a new situation, not
just socializing, I weigh the risk. Fortunately, this makes me more likely to display a thorough
thought process which leads to smarter decisions, must like investor Warren Buffet. So you can
bet when I'm in Vegas, I'm going with the best odds, and I'm much more likely to put those
earnings in the bank.
2. When I say "I hear you"... I actually hear you
In group work, I tend to not say much, not because I don't have ideas or thoughts, but because
I like to listen. When I'm working with a group, the conversation is like a volleyball match,
different words and ideas bouncing back and forth. Sometimes, it's all I can do to keep up. But,
because I don't spend so much time trying to have my voice heard, I actually have time to listen
to yours. And that's important. What if no one had been able to hear the ideas of the iPod, the
computer or the next up and coming new technology? Where would the world be?
3. I'm going to be the next Bill Gates ... but really
Well maybe I won't exactly be the next Bill Gates, since I happen to know absolutely nothing
about computers, or technology for that matter. But I do spend a good part of my time alone,
which Gates did a majority of his time while working on the computer. In fact, according to
Geoff Colvin, the author of Talent Is Overrated
, to develop any mastery skill, or new idea, one
must go through intense deliberate practice. Often this deliberate practice is more effective alone, because one can focus much more. This isn't to say the extroverts are incapable of developing the next up and coming product, it's just an argument that it's easier for those of us who aren't trying to socialize with our coworkers or colleagues.