The power of introverted people

image from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2167266/
image from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2167266/

It’s amazing that the sustainability-transition gets more and more followers. In spite of the growing momentum, a lot of mental energy can be wasted. The spectrum of problems is wide, the strategies are complex and the solutions are diverse. If it doesn’t immediately put you off then, it isn’t unlikely that you will meet dissolution or burn-out along your path.

Mental energy is limited, but luckily it’s renewable! By spending energy, you get energy back. De amount of energy you get back depends whether your personality is more extraverted or introverted. No one is 100% introvert or 100% extravert. More introverted people get more energy from situations where concentration, deep thinking or reflection is necessary. More extraverted people get more energy from situations where interaction, broadening or action is necessary. To continue renew your mental energy it’s important to find a balance that works for you.

Susan Cain explains in her TED talk that our western culture needs a better balance between the two personality types. Introversion is often seen as a weakness in western society. But suppressing introversion is going at the cost of creativity and good leadership. She acknowledges that to solve the vast and complex problems of today, we need armies of people collaborating. But to increase the chance we come up with genius solutions, we need to give introverted people more freedom to be themselves.

From this presentation we can adopt the following tree calls for action to make a successful sustainability-transition where everyone can apply their mental energy to the fully:

Stop the madness of constant group-work

Network event, conferences, workshops, brainstorms, debates, etc. are all important for sharing ideas. But to discuss ideas, avoid large groups of intelligent people, they’re lethal! Only use group-work once an idea is grounded.

Learn to be by yourself

Being too busy has become the norm in today’s society. If we don’t work for money or power then, there are all these problems in the world that need to be solved immediately. But it’s only by making it quiet that we can start to hear the ideas in our own head and start to recognise important subtleties. Unfortunately in a world where everyone is online all the time, many people don’t want a moment alone with their own thoughts. And, in a neoliberal or individualistic society with all the personal freedoms, it’s not acceptable to slow down to take time for the things that are really important in someone’s life.

Look inside your baggage and show it to the world once in a while

Know from where you get your energy. Don’t suppress it, but share it with the world. The world craves for the genius ideas and the cautious leadership of introverted people. Radical change can also be in silence, by making many small steps.

Nederlandse versie / Dutch version

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