The Single Most Important Book I've Read this Year

At a party held this past week, a friend asked me about the past year at work.  A new leadership position has given me an opportunity to shape an organization and learn from some of the best and brightest that New Jersey has to offer.  Most of my friends are curious about how the job has changed me and my family.  Our core is pretty solid so our family has rolled with the punches of added evening commitments and earlier mornings.

Me on the other hand?  I've learned a ton.

The biggest thing I've learned is that I'm a strong introvert and while I knew this on some levels, the job has challenged me to learn even more about myself.  Learn more or burn out- that's the thing on most days.  Thankfully, school life is a hotbed for learning so things are getting easier every day.

I turned to a book which has, and I'm not exagerating, literally changed my life.  As an avid reader, few books leave the impression that Devora Zack's latest book has made in my everyday outlook.  Networking for those who Hate Networking is phenomenal!  It shows an introvert how to retain energy, listen more deeply and navigate life.

Zack argues that many introverts feel judged according to an extrovert set of metrics.  Think back to when you were a student in high school.  The old "class participation" portion of your grade was largely made up of the number of times that you raised your hand and spoke up.  Unfortunately, this metric is almost totally geared to extroverts- those who talk in order to think.  It can leave an introvert feeling slighted or worse yet, unintelligent.

Introverts, on the other hand, think in order to talk.  They need to process things on their own and then, only later, speak up.  Process is the key word.

They also crave time alone.  Like oxygen, the introvert needs to close the door and do work on their own.  This certainly applies to me as I need to go  for walks, put my head down and focus on a deep level.  When I don't, I feel wholly drained of energy and things get cranky.  My dad would go for drives on summer nights and now I know why- he's an introvert and needed time to think.

I'm learning how to attend conferences smarter.  My daily schedule is also getting some adjustments as to how best to use my energy and windows of focus.  In short, Zach's book has taught me more about myself than any other in the past year.  It's terrific to go deeper into myself so that I can then be more for those around me.

Application Points

As you go through your week, consider those around you who are introverts.  These could be family members, coworkers or neighbors.  They're not being rude by spending time alone- they're just recharging.  Find ways to give them the space they need to operate on a daily basis.  They're just wired differently and that's perfectly OK.

Bonus Material

Here is a brief interview with author Devora Zack on her introverted insights.