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Can introverts be risk-takers?

posted Jul 2, 2016, 12:01 PM by Suchandra Chatterjee   [ updated Jul 3, 2016, 11:20 AM ]

"A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life"- Muhammad Ali 

As an INFP working in an industry which not only is dominated by seemingly extrovert professionals but also celebrates extroversion, I have pondered a lot about the merits and demerits of being an introvert. Introversion does not necessarily mean being a wallflower(though a lot of introverted people would refrain from communicating unless they have something meaningful to say therefore often appearing to be rather aloof): it is just that introverts spend a lot of time thinking and speculating and they often need some alone time to 'recharge' after a social gathering.  A lot has been written about the power of introspection: Susan Cain's brilliant book 'Quiet' is an excellent reference. While mostly the debate has been around communication, I came across an interesting PoV of a friend: 'Introverts are inherently cautious people: so they can not take risk'.

I would take this opportunity to counter that. I know from my personal experience and from dealing with other introvert peers and friends that before taking a decision (be it choosing a flavor of ice-cream or grabbing the backpack and leaving for that road trip), a lot goes on inside our little grey cells. We tend to calculate the upshot of our actions before jumping the gun. We might appear to be killjoy but actually we love to circumspect.  But given the right motivation,  not only would an introverted person take risk but also follow it through meticulously even if the going gets tough.

A classic fictional example would be Frodo Baggins from LoTR: JRR, an introvert himself did a prime portrayal of what an introvert could achieve if entrusted with a pursuit he really deems important.  

So, I love the bodaciousness of my extrovert friends and often get awed by their enthusiasm and zeal but those who know me up, close and personal could never accuse me of not being a risk-taker: professionally or personally. Any discipline of business, including marketing, requires a healthy mix of different personality types. It is time we celebrate the quiet ones in the workplace because their brain is anything but quiet!