Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, recently announced plans to start a revolution for introverts by focusing on redesigning workplaces, training introverted leaders, and helping quieter students thrive in the classroom. It’s a movement I can get behind, but before we think about changing the way we work, think about leadership, and change the way kids are taught, maybe introverts need to change themselves. As Jim Morrison said, “there can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution on an individual level.” Cain’s ideas are a good start, but we need to do more. Or less depending on how you look at it.
Most revolutions are bloody and violent affairs lead by charismatic figures with catchy slogans, demonstrations, and picket signs. They’re messy and a lot of work. And not us.
The personal revolutions of individual introverts can accomplish the changes Cain envisions more efficiently and simply without any congregating or organizing.
All we have to do is say no.
Say no to the Extroverted Ideal. Resist supporting it by trying to live up to it.
Say no to pretending to be an extrovert, no matter how useful it is. Say no to encouraging other introverts to pretend.
Say no to explaining and describing what it’s like to be and introvert. Just be one, all the time, everywhere, and without apology.
Say no to parties. Don’t go to one and find an excuse to leave early. Just don’t go.
Say no to pressure to answer the phone, the door, anything or anyone when you’re not ready to or don’t want to.
Say no to people who force small talk on you.
Say no to going out when you want to stay in.
Say no to any system that rewards only extroversion. The system will change (or disappear) when we refuse to participate in it.
Say no to Groupism — otherwise known as Introvert Fascism.
Say no to compromising your comfort to make other people more comfortable.
Say no to the cult of busyness.
Say no to being transparent and over sharing. You’re probably too complicated for it and not very good at it.
Say no to being defined by your introversion.
Now…go do what you want to do. You probably have a lot more time for it.