Introverts get a bad rap in our gregarious culture. But the truth is that the reflective nature of introversion has fueled some of the world's most powerful leaders, and is a deeply needed presence for creative breakthroughs and communication that sings straight to the heart.
While schools and workplaces are designed for extroverted behavior, I've found it surprising through more than a decade of teaching public speaking that introverts are the ones that make the very best public speakers.
They are sensitive and know how to make real connections with their audiences.
So it's important for introverts to embrace who they are, know their limits, and not let themselves be swayed by the pressures of a social system built on the merits of extroversion. Up to half of the population is believed to be introverts. With those numbers, no wonder there is such widespread stress over the common social pressure to perform.
Introverts simply need more quiet time, and that's okay. They find solace in contemplation. In fact, introverts tend to be driven by the kind of deep introspection that has the heart and meaning to change worlds even when it's uncomfortable for them - including such great leaders as Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ghandi.
In her Ted Talk and book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, author Susan Cain encourages introverts to honor the silence and have the courage to speak softly. Check out Susan's Ted Talk for a humorous and illuminating look at the merits and challenges of introversion here.