I just got finished reading this week’s Time magazine cover story which, contrary to the front headline–The Power of (Shyness)–actually explores the oft-misunderstood introvert in our culture. (And, there is a difference: Shyness is an anxiety disorder stemming from fear of judgement and social exposure. Introversion, by contrast, is a normal personality type encompassing as much as 30 percent of the population. Introverts, compared to their extroverted, more socially-engaged peers, tend to draw energy from being alone, and from focusing intently on ideas and independent activities.)
The article particularly caught my attention since I’ve long recognized I’m an introvert. Hence, I was very interested in how the author highlighted the advantages of introversion—even how, in business and other circles, introverts might wield advantages over more gregarious types.
Of course, for a job seeker (and introvert) like me, such concerns become more than “academic.” I’ve already noted my strong aptitude for applying skills that tend toward the “introverted” end of the career scale. I’m a “data and things” guy, who relishes opportunities to focus closely on detail, weigh lots of information and work independently on projects. So it’s nice to be validated—even indirectly—and hear that my work style might prevail under the right circumstance (such as when risks must be carefully weighed or when the quality of the final result carries a premium).
I was particularly gratified to learn how introverts’ ability to focus and concentrate over sustained periods of time may foster their attaining “transcendent skill” levels. I’m very drawn to accounts of creative or innovative types who through extraordinary effort and vision transcend the typical bounds of their field. Accomplished introverts such as J.K. Rowling, Woody Allen, and Stephen Spielberg demonstrate that when introspective types dedicate themselves to creatively pursuing ideas, their devotion can pay off spectacularly. (And introverts such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have attained stellar heights in areas quite distinct from purely “creative” fields.)
It’s probably little surprise then that, along with writing and photography, I’ve considered other “quiet” and “cerebrally engaged” fields: paralegal/legal assistance, information science (i.e. librarianship), geographic information systems and, even, website design. In fact, keying searches into Google combining “introvert” with other descriptive terms produces not only lists of possible careers (e.g. 200 Best Jobs for Introverts by Dr. Laurence Shatkin, et al), but myriad related discussions. Introversion, it seems, might be the topic du jour.
Which reminds me: I’d rather not become bogged down in endlessly researching and weighing my job options (though, to an introvert, that does sound appealing!). However, after some time outside of the job market, I could certainly benefit from more up-to-date career intelligence. Therefore, if any of my kind readers/Facebook friends happens to have gotten wind of absolutely the best job title for me to consider, please do share: I’m a sucker for that kind of information.