The Self Reflective Super Power

Because introverts look internally for our energy sources, we are often our own best friend. We don’t depend on material or external stimulation to make up our mind about certain things or to recharge our batteries. It’s not that we aren’t influenced by our environment or the people around us; we simply take in the information and put it through our own filters rather than taking it at face value. We carry our safety, our values, and our energy around inside of us, which contributes to an unmistakable quality of independence and self-reliance.

My guess is that whoever coined the phrase “If you want it done right, do it yourself” was an introvert!

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” essay includes numerous statements about the virtues of this introvert tendency. Here’s one example: “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably heard someone say, “You think too much!” more than once in your life. I know I have! And yet, that willingness to reflect and turn inward to listen to my heart is a strength I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It’s not that extroverts don’t engage in self-reflection or that introverts always trust their gut; it’s more about the first reaction someone has to solving a problem. The extrovert will want to gather others and reflect collectively, to ask, “What do you think?” The introvert will move toward solitude or maybe one other person, to ask, “What do I think?” Both are using information from others to enlighten their thoughts. The introvert prefers to reflect on that information by going deeper into the self rather than assembling the troops.

Looking internally for our energy sources also shows up in how we respond to new situations. I sum it up by saying we like to look before we leap. Life is full of sayings that encourage us to “just do it.” Consider this quote from French writer Nicolas de Chamfort: “Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”

Telling introverts to sacrifice reflection is like asking us to stop breathing. We like to watch a bit before jumping into the fray. We are measuring expectations, norms, and rules. While this may sometimes get in our way (it’s important to be aware if we’re suffering from paralysis by analysis!), it’s often the thing that saves us, and rescues many situations from being worsened by quick and rash responses. Introverts watch. We wait. We act when the time feels right. Recognize that your desire and need to reflect is a secret superpower that will help you to be in the right place at the right time, ready with the right response.

These are only a few examples of the strengths introverts bring to the table. As we move through each of the major aspects of being an introvert entrepreneur, we’ll highlight additional strengths and explore how to use them. You’ll find advice that will support you wherever you are in your professional journey, whether you are the owner of a business, are part of a larger start-up, or have an entrepreneurial role in a traditional corporation or nonprofit organization. As you understand, own, and leverage your introvert strengths, new opportunities will present themselves. Doors will open. The world will be a better place because of your thoughtful, internal power.

Until recently, being an introvert was something that most people didn’t want to embrace; they wanted to fix it. The messages that it’s not OK to be an introvert meant that many people spent enormous amounts of energy trying to be extroverted. The result? Besides some very tired, burned-out introverts, we had people whose voices were not ringing true.

An introvert entrepreneur needs to be clear from the start on several things: values, purpose, goals, and vision. From that clarity comes the ability to own who you are, thereby claiming your unique voice and marketplace niche. One of my favorite writers (who also happens to be an introvert), Anne Lamott, has said that part of the meaning of life is reclaiming your truth, the one that others twist or mute on our journey toward social acceptability. Our truth is discovered when we’re quiet and when we embrace what’s true for us, not what’s true for someone else.