Leadership for introverts.

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2018 Introvert Career Outlook Survey

Recently, I asked a small subset of Riskology readers to take a short survey about “how things are going at work.”

The goal was to get a general overview of how introverts are feeling about their jobs and where things are headed for them.

Personality in the workplace continues to grow as a topic of interest, and understanding introversion / extraversion has been a big driver of that interest.

The U.S. economy has also been on a steady increase with shrinking unemployment numbers.

At the same time, a recent series by NPR reports that soon almost half of the U.S. workforce will be contract workers. That’s an enormous shift to a very different landscape from what we’re used to.

So how are introverts actually feeling? Do they consider themselves adequately compensated compared to their peers? Do they feel like their careers are improving and they have opportunities to grow?


Growth Mindset: The Science of Achieving Your Potential

Do you have a growth mindset? Do you even know what a growth mindset is? Maybe you do. But until recently, I didn’t.

And when I went on a little journey to learn more about it (and how to get one o’ them fancy mindsets for myself), what I learned kind of blew my mind… set.

To get you started on your own journey to a growth mindset—which, according to the scientists basically unlocks your full potential as a human—I’ll ask you a question:

When I say Michael Jordan, what comes to mind first?

  • Speed?
  • Agility?
  • Power?
  • Raw talent?

You might expect any of those answers. But what about hard work? Did that make your list? And if so, how far down?

When the typical sports fan watches clips of Jordan and sees his career stats, they picture the talent he had to possess to achieve that.

But what does Jordan think about Jordan’s career? If you listen, you’ll hear him say it many times: incredibly hard work is what made him the legacy he is today.

From the outside, his talent looks effortless. But from the inside, apparently, it looks the opposite. Continue…

How Body Language Makes You Smarter, Stronger & More Attractive

The gist: 60% of communication is nonverbal, but we rarely think about communication beyond language. To be a terrific communicator, take control of what your body is doing when you speak and listen.

You have a secret superpower.

If you’re like me, you went through school, attended job interviews and suffered through dates agonizing over the ‘right’ thing to say. Maybe you thought about what you wanted to tell a hiring manager or what anecdotes to share with your blind date.

You focused on what to say.

But here’s my big idea: I want you to focus on how you say something.

As humans, a minimum of 60% of our communication is nonverbal. That means the majority of our connection with the people around us comes through our body language, facial expressions and voice tone. However, we tend to put all of our eggs in the verbal basket—focusing on what we are going to say not how we want to say it.

When I discovered the power of nonverbal, it was like discovering I had a secret superpower. I didn’t realize that a lot of my micro-messages—or small nonverbal gestures—were undermining my presence and credibility. I also learned that I could use my hands, my voice and my stance to add to my verbal message.

Now, I want to teach you.


The Top 5 Introvert Leadership Challenges (and How to Beat Them)

The gist: Most introverts face these five challenges on the journey to build their leadership skills. Each one can be overcome with a unique approach.

Giving a singular voice to a group of people is hard work. Finding the little things that make people tick and motivating them toward a common goal is equally difficult. Those are big leadership challenges.

If you’re an introvert with big ideas, you must be up to the task. Your natural, introverted skills will propel you and your team forward, but you’ll also struggle with some fundamental challenges that keep you from stepping into a leadership role in the first place.

We’re always on the lookout for new research and ideas to help you capitalize on your natural strengths and succeed as an introverted leader.

Recently, we asked our readers, “What’s the #1 thing that holds you back from taking on more leadership roles?” From the hundreds of responses, we were able to categorize them into five primary roadblocks:

  1. Self-doubt. You’re unsure of your own leadership skills.
  2. Trouble being perceived as a leader. You may be confident, but others don’t see you as their leader.
  3. A lack of leadership skills. You know you don’t have the skills you need, and you’re not sure how to get them.
  4. Feeling inauthentic. You hesitate to lead because it doesn’t feel natural.
  5. No time / energy to lead. You’re already doing too much and you’re too tired to take on the responsibility.

If any of those answers sound familiar to you, then keep reading. We’ve assembled a complete guide to recognizing and fixing each of these roadblocks to leadership in yourself.

The world needs more introverted leaders, and you can become one of them—quietly affecting the lives of those around you for the better.


What the Heck Is an Introvert, Anyway?

The gist: Introvert. The word is more popular than ever. But what does it really mean? And are you one? We went to the end of the earth to find out.

What, exactly, is an introvert? The word has gained real popularity recently and people around the world seem to be coming out of the woodwork to declare, “That’s what I am! I’m an introvert!”


Google Trends for the Term "Introvert"

Here at Riskology, we consider ourselves introverts but, if we’re being totally honest, we don’t all agree on what that means and often struggle to explain it in elegant terms when someone asks us, “What do you mean, you’re an introvert?”

So, we set out to answer the question once and for all.

We dug into the history of personality science. We scoured the latest research and analyzed pop culture references. And we interviewed highly credentialed professionals in the field.

If we could break it down into three key findings, we’d say introverts:

  1. Have deep, rich inner-lives. It’s hard to overstate how “inside their own heads” introverts are.
  2. Prefer solitude to busy environments. Introverts are most at home… at home.
  3. Enjoy people, but prefer fewer, deep relationships. It’s all about quality over quantity.

But boiling down an entire personality type to just three bullet points can’t begin to explain the complex and fascinating traits of introverts.

What follows is a deep, multi-faceted look at what it means to be an introvert. Not just in the academic sense, but in the “How does this affect my daily life sense?”

So, where to start? How about at the beginning.


Sabbaticals: We Should All Take a Month Off

The gist: Sabbaticals make you more productive and motivated. But few people can actually take one. Here are some ideas for mini-sabbaticals you can implement.

Every year, I pick a month and stop working. At least in the traditional sense. All the normal things I do to keep my business running either get put on auto-pilot or just get ignored.

Instead of writing or training, I spend time taking long walks, taking even longer notes, meeting with friends, and creating a plan to answer this question:

“What will make Riskology great in the next 12 months?”

This is a practice I started  a few years ago. It sounds lazy to people who pride themselves on working harder no matter what, but it’s been one of the most productive, profitable, and all-around beneficial things I’ve added to my routine.

If you work a normal job without a sabbatical program, this all might seem impossible for you. But I have some ideas that will help.

Here are the important things I do during my sabbatical that allow me to make big strides in my life and business every year and, of course, a few ideas for how to implement a similar system if you don’t run your own business or can’t just disappear for a month like I do.


Tipping Points: How Introverts Spread Big Ideas

The gist: Big ideas need not be championed by big personalities. Introverts are equipped to create tipping points by quietly influencing large groups from within.

If you’ve spent any time listening to the politicians, CEOs, and gurus of the world, you’d be forgiven thinking that, to lead people or get them to listen to your big ideas you have to be an outgoing extrovert who spends every waking moment shaking hands and kissing babies. You have to get in front of everyone.

But is it true? No, it is not.

You don’t have to go on a world tour or try to evangelize to everyone you meet to be a leader and make a difference in people’s lives. Actually, you can make big things happen just by connecting with a few people. When you connect with the right people, you can share your idea, sell your product, get people to use your app—whatever it is you want to influence—without overwhelming yourself.

When you have a great idea and you communicate it to the right people in the right way, you can achieve a tipping point—the point where your idea will continue to spread without any effort from you—quickly and without burning yourself out.

If you’ve always thought you had to pretend to be an extrovert to get people to pay attention to your ideas, this could be a life-changing realization.

In fact, introverts have a natural advantage when it comes to sharing powerful ideas. They’re hard-wired to build deeper connections with fewer people, so we naturally reserve our energy and focus it on the people who are most aligned with us.

In fact, if you want to get better at creating tipping points for your ideas, products, whatever, then you’d benefit from learning to be more like an introvert.

But how do you get started? How do tipping points really happen, and what do you need to do to make sure your ideas have the best shot at reaching one?

Let’s dig in.


Overwhelmed? Eliminate Work by Reorganizing It.

The gist: When your priorities are out of order, you create a lot of unnecessary work for yourself. Adjusting can be scary, but the result can make you faster and more creative.

Try to remember what it felt like the last time you had a to-do list so long it made you want to give up and declare “to-do bankruptcy.”

I’m not surprised if you feel that way right now. A study by Harris Interactive found over 80% of people in America are stressed out at work. 1

I’ve felt the same many times. I’d sit down at my desk and, before even starting, I’d say to myself, “There’s no way I’m going to get everything done.” Defeated from the beginning.

This problem might be worse for introverts who work in a company where personalities don’t always match the task. You get sucked into meetings, the chatter is loud, and the environment can exhausting.

But there’s good news. If you haven’t taken a hard look at the way you do your work, there are probably some incredible opportunities to eliminate a large portion of your daily workload.

And just how is that possible? It’s all in the order of the work you do and how you prioritize. Here are a few examples from my own experiments in making my work day just a little more sane. Continue…


  1. Source here. This was part of a recurring study, and it also found that the problem was getting worse every year and “workload” was one of the top reasons why.

Law of Equal Effort: Do Big Things Without Burning Out

The problem: Our biggest goals are hardest to achieve because we burn out early. We burn out because we work hard and slack off at exactly the wrong times.

The solution: Do the opposite of what feels normal. Work hard when it’s easy and scale back when it’s hard.

I run marathons, but I’m hardly a leading expert on running. I’ve never followed a formal training schedule, hired a coach, or joined a running club. And I’m not fast—my PR is just under four hours—but I’ve always finished.

Training matters, but what gets me through a race as difficult as a marathon is an approach I take in my life that just happens to help my running, too.

I call it the Law of Equal Effort, and it’s pretty simple: Regardless what life throws at you, put in the same effort.

Following this theory, the progress you make over time can vary significantly but, in the end, you get to the same place and you feel a lot better when you’re done.

Most importantly, you actually make it to the end.

The Law of Equal Effort will help you when you’re taking on a big challenge and you don’t feel confident. You don’t always get to decide when things will be easy or hard, but you get to decide how to deal with the ups and downs when they come.

Here’s how you can put the Law of Equal Effort to work in your day-to-day life, as well as a few situations when you should take a different approach. We’ll apply it to three examples: running a marathon (naturally), building a business, and maintaining a relationship.


Your Tiniest Ideas Will Have the Biggest Impact

The gist: We tend to think our biggest ideas are our best ones. It’s actually the opposite. Your best ideas will start tiny and have these three characteristics.

I spend a lot of time concocting lists of random ideas to make life better. If I have a problem, I can immediately hatch a plan to fix it. Over the years, though, I’ve learned my “great ideas” cause more problems than they solve.

In the heat of the moment—stress building—I’ll come up with a complex scheme, and go off to implement it, not realizing the added complexity will eventually cause even bigger problems. Consequently, I’ve learned it’s when I have the restraint to follow my tiniest, most simple ideas that I benefit most.

The elegance of a tiny solution to a big problem is a thing of beauty. That’s why I love Southwest Airlines’s story of near failure turned massive success from the tiniest change.

It’s a testament to the power of tiny ideas, and it illustrates the rules for identifying, committing to, and following through on your best ones. How do you nurture a tiny idea into a great success? Like this. Continue…