Leadership for introverts.

Reach your potential by embracing your personality and plotting a new course. Join our free newsletter to take the Leadership for Introverts Test and start building your skills.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

latest articles

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…

The Habit Ladder: How To Make A New Routine Stick

When one good habit triggers another, the speed of success doubles.

I can hardly remember what my mornings look like these days. It’s taken years and much trial and error, but I have a routine now that needs no thought to be completed. Each action, all morning long, is pre-scripted, memorized, and controlled by habit.

I wake up and put my running clothes on. A 5-mile run leads to a shower, breakfast, and then my most important task of the day.

The same thing happens, like clockwork, every… single… day.

What I—and many others, perhaps yourself—have constructed is what I like to call a habit ladder—an automatic system that quickly transforms you from a heap of unconsciousness to a productive human being.

A morning routine is just one example of a habit ladder, though. The same concept can be applied across every aspect of your life to make the important actions you want to take quick and painless. And the trick isn’t so much in what you do, but the order you do them in.

Continue…

Internal Motivation: How To Build Routines That Stick

Gist: Find your internal motivation to build strong systems and drive results. When you control what motivates you, inspiration is more reliable and routines stick.


On my running routes, there are a few folks—the regulars—I can always count on seeing. We don’t know each other, but we wave and say “hi.” I like to add, “Enjoy the run!” for good measure. “Thanks, I always do!” is a typical reply.

I was talking to a friend about exercise recently. It can be so hard to get into any kind of rhythm.

Productive routines are difficult to build. You want to be more reliable and accountable to yourself, but it’s damn hard to make the time in your busy life.

You might try a few routines at home or at work you think are productive, but they don’t stick. So, you decide you just don’t like them. Routines don’t work for you.

That reminded me of those daily micro-exchanges:

“Enjoy the run!”
“l always do!”

They aren’t just a formality. My trail buddies and I really do enjoy running. And the reason we enjoy it is because our motivation to do it comes from inside of us.

If you’ve ever struggled to stick to a routine, the solution could be as simple as channeling your motivation from the right source. Here’s how to do it. Continue…

The Art and Science of Making Great First Impressions

The gist: Decades of research have found 6 primary qualities that go into a successful first impression. To make better first impressions, implement these 6 rules.


You probably don’t realize as you’re doing it—I don’t—but every day you quietly judge the people you meet. You look for clues that will tell you what type of person they are, if they’re confident in themselves, and whether you can trust them.

And everyone you meet is doing the same to you.

Have you ever met someone a few times and thought, “I really should like this person… but I don’t.” That’s the first impression at work.

Something about the way they presented themselves to you in the first few moments of meeting triggered a negative response from your subconscious brain and, try as you might, you can’t shake it.

As you’ve probably heard at some point in a fight with a loved one, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. The majority of the communication you have with the people around you is non-verbal—your body language. And you’d hardly be alone if you don’t have a clue what it’s saying most of the time.

Today, that changes. And your relationships change with it. Continue…

Use Schema Learning to Be More Persuasive

The gist: To spread an important message, use “schema learning” to connect your idea to other ideas people already understand and accept so they’ll accept yours, too.


“When I go to a baseball game, I can eat six, maybe seven hot dogs. I love hot dogs more than anything on Earth.”

This is the opening line from Mr. Hourigan, my high school Economics teacher. We’re learning the law of diminishing returns.

He goes on to explain how, though his love for brats runs deeper than human understanding, he starts to get tired of them after a while. Sure, each of those first three dogs make him happier and happier. Eventually, though, the next one isn’t quite as tasty as the last. After about six hot dogs, Mr. Hourigan hardly cares about hot dogs at all.

Admittedly, a strange comparison. Also an effective way to share a complex idea with a bunch of apathetic high schoolers.

The law of diminishing returns, put simply, describes how you can’t achieve endless efficiency in any system. More workers on a construction project won’t always make it finish faster. Speeding up an assembly line won’t guarantee you more widgets in an hour.

As a 17-year-old student, I didn’t care about construction projects or assembly lines. I didn’t care about hot dogs either, but I was intimately familiar with them. I knew if I ate too many, I wouldn’t like them as much. And Mr. Hourigan knew that’s all I needed to understand to get the lesson.

He compared something I already understood to something I didn’t and, suddenly, I understood it, too. It’s called schema learning, and it’s a well-documented educational tool.

You’re (probably) not an economics teacher. What you are, though, is someone with important ideas that need to be communicated effectively. You want to educate people, and you want to lead them to make smart decisions.

So, it’s critical you understand how to communicate your ideas using schema learning because there is no better tool to not only educate someone quickly but also persuade them to make smart decisions and accept good advice. Continue…

Decision Automation: 5 Things I Do to Increase Willpower and Make Smart Choices

The gist: When you automate decisions that don’t matter, your willpower increases and you get incredibly good at making decisions that actually make a difference.


You’re sitting at work when the phone rings. You’ve been waiting for this call. You don’t know what the person on the other side will say, but you know there’s a big opportunity on the line—one that could change your life, skyrocket your career, improve your family.

But there’s also a risk involved. If you say yes, it could go wrong, even if the odds are slim.

Now, a question: What’s the best time of day to make this decision?

Funny question, right? Why would it matter? There’s a great opportunity. Just a slight risk. Won’t you make the right choice regardless when you’re asked? Most research says no.

In reality, you’re faced with all kinds of decisions daily:

  • What time should I get out of bed?
  • How much should I save for retirement?
  • When should I feed the cat?
  • Do my toes look funny?
  • Should I get married?
  • So on and so forth…

Individually, these questions aren’t hard to answer—even the deeper, more involved ones can be simple to decide. But, together, the sum is greater than the parts. If you ask yourself all these questions at the same time, you’ll melt down. It’ll be a terrible, draining day.

You’d experience, as the experts call it, decision fatigue—the inability to make a smart, rational choice after having to make others before it.1

But you’re a leader, aren’t you? You want to be, at least. You have lots of decisions to make each day, and how you decide them will have a big impact not just on your life, but the lives around you. People are counting on you to make good choices. Are you making the best ones possible on the decisions that matter?

The bad news is you probably aren’t—at least not all the time. But the good news is you can do something about it—and quickly—to fix the problem.

By the time you finish reading this, you’ll have already fundamentally improved your ability to make smart decisions about life’s biggest choices.

Continue…

Footnotes

  1. For more on decision fatigue, read this Wikipedia article.

9 Ways This Introvert Polished His Public Speaking Skills

The gist: Not all introverts suffer from public speaking anxiety. But if you do, here are some ideas to eliminate it and become a strong communicator.


I stood on stage, looking out over everyone focused on me—waiting for me to speak, to say anything— and the voice in the back of head made its way forward to remind me, “You’re not good at public speaking.”

I was the opening talk for the TEDx event, and it was up to me to set the tone.

This is an extraordinary responsibility on top of giving the most important talk of your life and, had it been any other circumstance, I might have given into that voice. “Yeah, you’re right. I shouldn’t be here. I’m an introvert. I’m an internal editor. I can’t even finish a sentence with my wife without wanting a do-over.”

Thankfully, I’d done my homework. Not just on the talk, but on how to overcome my public speaking anxiety. I knew what I needed to say, I believed in the message, and I had a plan even if the perfect circumstances I spent so much time practicing in didn’t reflect reality on game day.

Today, I can get on stage in front of a few thousand people and speak with confidence and authority. If I’m lucky, some finesse and a few jokes that aren’t total duds. But it certainly wasn’t always like that.

When it comes to public speaking, any confidence I have is the result of a tremendous amount of work, frustration, cold sweats, and embarrassment. But I’m glad I had those experiences because they got me here—a place I can share some lessons about how to go from a terrified, bumbling idiot to a calm, confident communicator.

That, perhaps, will be the most useful part of this article for you—simply knowing that public speaking skills can be learned. You don’t have to be born with them.

From sharing an idea with a small team of friends to standing in front of thousands of strangers, these are the public speaking skills—many from speakers far better than me—that have transformed me from a timid, stuttering speaker to a confident, respected one. I hope they help you spread your own big ideas.

Continue…

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.

Continue…

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…

Footnotes

  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.

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.

Continue…