How Introverts Can Succeed Quietly

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: the working world is heavily skewed to the extroverts. Related: Those who master the art of relationships (and generate their energy from interacting with people) are far more likely to move up the ladder in traditional corporate life than those who do their best work solo. Does this mean if you’re an introvert you’re doomed to a life of quiet desperation or of being an unappreciated cog in a very big machine? Quite the opposite. Many introverts succeed because of their ability to apply inward-facing strengths in a way that is easy to understand for everyone. You may well succeed outrageously in a way your extraverted colleagues can only dream of. History is littered with brilliant introverts who used their innate powers of focus and concentration (which often come hard to classic extraverts) to produce game-changing creative, strategic and technological breakthroughs. Think Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Gandhi, Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, classic introverts all. They sold themselves and their ideas—quietly—to profound success. And so can you, provided you simply commit to two concepts: content and platform.


Killer content must be your calling card. There is no room for mediocre or surface-scratching copy. Devote yourself to the deep research no one else is willing to do. Write multiple drafts until you’re certain you’ve created something original and compelling. Analyze and test your hypotheses. Obsess about the broader implications of your work, looking for nuances that less committed souls would miss. Do the heavy lifting that those without your passion and focus are unable to do. What's the good news about all of these new requirements? This often comes as naturally as breathing to introverts: you were born to do deeply involved work.


Killer content by itself is rarely enough. To share and spread your ideas and build your community, you need the right platform. Hiding in the shadows won’t do it. You must put yourself smack dab in the limelight. But fear not. You’ll do it only when it matters most and in the forms that best suit you and your message. Think of it as being a situational extrovert. You choose how—and when—you’re willing to take center stage. Because even in the limelight, you sell quietly. Not with hype or sensationalism, but with your expertise, With a deep understanding of your work, with passion for your subject. You might swallow hard and agree to a speaking engagement or presentation to an influential audience. Rise to the challenge and work through your fears because you know it’s worth it to spread your work. Or maybe you reach out to a handful of key influencers in your field to share your research, your art and your ideas. While it takes courage to make the first move, the intimacy of one-on-one suits your personality and style. Perhaps you’ll decide to tackle the media and convince key outlets to publish your work because you know that until your ideas get aired, they don’t have the power to change the world. Choosing even a limited soapbox—your platform—that suits your strengths and your message can light up your career. This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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