I recently took the online quiz “are you an extrovert or introvert?” and the outcome was neither. I am what the test referred to as an ambivert. I fall somewhere in the middle on the extrovert-introvert spectrum.
I can’t decide which is a better memory – that one party or that night spent alone watching Netflix.
As leaders of organizations, we can’t ignore the data about the importance of appreciating all types of human nature, especially introverts, on our teams and in our families:
- 50% of the U.S. workforce self-identifies as introverts. And 64% of workers believe their organization does not fully harness the talents of the introverted employees.
- 96% of leaders and managers self-identify as extroverts—which means leadership teams are often imbalanced and do not fairly represent a diverse workforce.
- Less than 30% of U.S. workers feel engaged in their jobs—which means that 70% of workers are not working at their maximum potential. (source: The Quiet Revolution)
If you haven’t yet read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, please check it out soon. The book is on NYT best seller list and has been there for a while now.
She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts. She offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships and empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”
As an ambivert, I am working on my mindfulness by attending meditation training on Sunday mornings for an hour and half at the Intermodal Transportation Center, downtown Fort Worth. The meditation and teachings are offered by the Kadampa Meditation Center of Texas. I am not a Buddhist but I am interested in learning about the teachings and the benefits of meditation.
Why meditate? There are a lot of myth busters about meditation. But one is you don’t have to sit on a floor, on a weird pillow, to meditate. Just sit in a regular chair or on your couch. You don’t have to sit still either. You can move around if you need to get comfortable.
For me, a few minutes meditating provides a way to train my mind to settle and some freedom from day-to-day busyness. To do this requires me first to slow down and experience my thoughts or rather, no thoughts at all. Through this process, I get to know how my mind works. I am beginning to see that I have a choice in the matter: I do not have to act on every thought. I don’t have to follow it down the rabbit hole like I am conditioned. Believe me, I struggle at the meditation. I find my mind easily distracted to thoughts about what I did yesterday, what I am planning to do today, and what I want to do tomorrow. But with just a little practice I can already see the improvement to focus only on my breathing during meditation and let the other thoughts go for just a while. Try 10 minutes at first. I recommend an app, Calm, to practice or find a local meditation group like I did for support.