We Need Everyone - Sunday, November 16, 2014
We live in a society that often seems to value outgoing, adventurous personalities over others. In a variety of ways, our culture suggests that we need to be bold to be successful, talkative to be happy, even loud to be worth hearing. This message is so pervasive that those who are more introspective, private, and quiet can begin to feel ashamed of their personality traits. They may long to be the life of the party—not the one who sits in the corner, lost in thought. They might think they need to be the one with many friends—not the one who enjoys fewer but deeper relationships. The culture may lead them to think that it’s better to be the center of attention—not the one who is content to observe.
The truth is that much of this world’s most inspiring art, most important discoveries, most influential ideas, and most revolutionary inventions were the work of people who tended to be more quiet, who did not seek the spotlight.1 In fact, it may be that the inclination to be quiet and deliberate and contemplative is more likely to foster such achievements than a bold, aggressive approach.
By some estimates, approximately half of us are more introverted than extroverted.2 And that feels about right. The world was not meant to consist of only one kind of person. Our lives are enriched by varieties of personalities and dispositions, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. We need thoughtful, cautious people just as much as we need daring risk-takers. We need introverts and extroverts and everything in between.
Most of us have a little of both in our natures anyway—traditional labels are too simplistic to truly define anyone. And our personality develops over time; nothing is forever fixed in place. When anyone neglects his or her talents, we all suffer. On the other hand, when everyone is encouraged to be authentic enough to develop their gifts and then selfless enough to share them, they unleash their potential, make meaningful contributions, and find contentment—and we’re all the better for it.
-Lloyd D. Newell
1. See Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2013), 5.
2. See Quiet, 3–4.