Thursday, November 5, 2015

Who Will Lead the Next Revolution? 5 Reasons I Believe It Will Be the Introverts

Me recharging in Boynton Canyon, Sedona

I’m a bit over half way through Susan Cain’s best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking.  Besides being an introvert myself, my primary interest in reading it was to learn more about the connection between introverts and the acceleration of consciousness. I had already suspected a strong connection, one which essentially reverses the cultural bias from the bold to the humble and from an ethic of “the survival of the fittest” to one of “Together we rise!”
Here is what I've learned so far:

1.       Introverts are less reward-motivated than extroverts, focused more on inner motivations and satisfactions.  Therefore, we can expect that an extroverted-leaning culture would be a more consumerist culture, seeking external rewards and using up more of Earth’s resources as they seek those external rewards.  (And this is what we see in the USA.) This suggests that it is likely that introverts hold the key to how to cultivate an inner sense of satisfaction or “enoughness,” leading to buying and using less of Earth’s resources.  Practices such as mindfulness and Thai Chi  are examples of how to cultivate a sense of satiety and peace with oneself and the world.

2.       Introverts often feel overstimulated by our fast-paced, information-rich, plugged in society and need more solitude and quiet in order to integrate and recharge themselves.  This may seem like a liability, but actually it is a strength in disguise.  Introverts tend to process external stimuli in more detail than extroverts.  This level of detail adds to the "overload" they experience as compared to extroverts. Processing so much data may take longer but produces different and often deeper insights. But in a time when most of our crises are not sudden or simple (climate disruption for example) we need more introverts willing to delve deep into the complexities and details. 

3.       Introverts inherently make more connections between data. Whenever a problem is complex, requires deep listening, concentrated focus, blending of data, collective action and attention to subtle clues, (and most of our biggest problems today are)  it is shown that introverts are better qualified for the job. Extroverts hold the advantage when fast decision-making and bold action are required.  Brain science confirms that extroverts rely more heavily on activity of the amygdala (the reptilian brain) from which quick and bold decisions are made (fight or flight) than do introverts.  Introverts register more brain activity in the neocortex where associations between data are noted and considered.    

4.       In the Enough book I describe the limitless abundance humanity is discovering as we explore the subtle within us and all around us. Whether it is technology, new sciences or the practice of mindfulness, the innovative frontier is focused on the territory well beyond what can be sensed with our five senses, areas such as vibration, the zero point field and the collective consciousness.  In this, introverts have the advantage because they are naturally wired to notice and prefer to dwell in the subtle. As a result, finding the hidden abundance in the subtle will presumably come rather naturally for them.  

5.       Introversion and extroversion are partially culturally learned. Cultural norms, economic rewards and social cues are keyed to what a culture values most.    In Asia, introversion and humility is highly valued and therefore rewarded, while in Europe and the United States, the opposite is true.  Susan Cain describes how the culture of the extrovert on Wall Street created a very dangerous snowball effect, selecting for extroverts while eliminating more cautious introverts again and again, gradually increasing bold and risky action until the crash of 2008.  Warren Buffet, a consummate introvert, saw this coming and profited from the 2008 crash.  

It seems to me that the bold-bias Susan has observed among the cultural, educational and economic elite enclaves of the west is representative of what I call The “Never Enough” Story, a story which has been on the rise for thousands of years and may have reached its height.  Bold and loud, busy, excess-oriented and reward-seeking could certainly describe this trajectory. And so could stressful, cutthroat, unequal, greedy, exploitive, disconnected, lonely, narcissistic, extractive and short-sighted. Fortunately, a rebalancing between introvert and extrovert, inner and outer, me and we is happening under names such as the sharing economy, community currency, new economics, permaculture, divine feminine spirituality, resilience hubs, transition towns, Occupy and the commons movement. Many of these are led by people we would traditionally consider quiet. But their willingness to be seen and heard and to gather in increasing numbers to push for change is a sign of a huge sea change.   

I see this as a planetary pivot from the extremes of excess and bold back towards the center - the middle way of moderation and discernment.  All of this is to say if you are an introvert, this is a time to be proud of it and to step forward out of your comfort zone to share your gifts more boldly.  Quiet is powerful.   And if you are an extrovert, perhaps this is a time to slow down, listen more, attune to your inner world and to learn what it is you have not been seeing or feeling with as much discernment and clarity as you would like.

Several of the people I love and admire most in this world are extroverts, and I believe part of why they are so attractive to me is that they have qualities I'd like to learn to develop more within myself. Perhaps at first, I was satisfied to have them "complete me" but as time has gone on, I've realized a more empowered view is that they are teachers for how I might empower myself to be more balanced and whole unto myself. As an introvert, this means to trust myself more, to take more risks and to speak out when I have strong convictions or possibly useful ideas no one else has spoken yet.

I believe we are heading to a time of more wholeness, interconnection and fuller consciousness. What this requires of all of us, whether introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, is a willingness to step out of our patterns and comfort zones to incorporate some of the opposite within us. When we become more whole, we are realizing untapped enoughness within and all around us. We are rebalancing ourselves and the world. And this can and should be enough to change the world. 

How about you?  
Are you an introvert?  Do you feel an inner calling at this time to step forward in a bolder way?       
Are you an extrovert?  Are you experiencing a growing need for solitude and rest? 

Laurie is the author of the upcoming book (April, 2016 - Conari Press) Enough!  How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word

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