The Curious Introvert


Introverts can be voraciously curious. Many of us are scientists, writers and in other professions where curiosity is a prerequisite. When my friend Sara recommended that I read A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, I was intrigued. One major premise of this book is that curiosity is both heretical and disruptive, so by engaging in the brave act of expressing curiosity, the reader automatically becomes a rebel and force to be reckoned with. I found this to be oddly appealing, since I didn’t really have to do anything life-threatening to gain this status. The book is co-authored by Brian Grazer, a famous Hollywood producer of numerous successful films including Apollo 13, Splash, 8 Mile and A Beautiful Mind. The other co-author is Charles Fishman, three-time winner of UCLA’s Gerald Loeb Award, the most prestigious prize in business journalism. Between these two minds, the book content ended up falling somewhere between a business book and a self-help book.

Brian Grazer attributes his success in Hollywood to his habit of conducting “Curiosity Conversations” with luminaries in such diverse fields as science, art, and business. Continue reading “The Curious Introvert”

The Curious Introvert

What an Introvert Is and Isn’t


Introverts are humans of striking creativity who traditionally bring big ideas to bay or tree. Frequently described as intelligent, alert and confident, introverts are also noted for stamina, endurance, agility, determination and aggressiveness when pursuing a passion.  This surprising characterization might describe some introverts that you already know or, possibly, it might be a slightly bastardized version of the AKC breed description of a Plott Hound. The point is that it is difficult to generalize the true nature of any particular introvert, since introversion is only one characteristic among a multitude that defines a personality. To complicate things further, personality traits also tend to exist on a continuum. In the case of introversion, you might see mention of a thing called an extroverted introvert. To extend the canine metaphor, these are considered to be a breed with mixed emotional ancestry and consequently, have temperaments that can be hard to predict. The recommended course of action upon encountering an extroverted introvert in the wild is to decline eye contact and to slowly back away. A more common reaction, however, is to immediately classify such people based on either the first behavior type observed or the dominant trait exhibited during the period of observation. Neither is correct, but because of our need for a mental shorthand to quickly interpret the world around us, we lose appreciation for the nuanced details of the personalities we encounter. The underlying complexity of personality traits is just too much for our brains to compute rapidly, so people end up being binned into categories that rarely suit. Hence, the origin of stereotypes for introverts.

Popular myths about introverts declare that we are shy or misanthropic. Introverts are not necessarily either of these, although some of us may display one or both of these traits. The propagation of these particular myths probably stems from the fact that introverts feel drained after social activity and so, some of us may choose to avoid or curtail these situations. While a typical introvert may enjoy spending time with friends and family, these interactions require an expenditure of energy from us.  The extrovert, on the other hand, is invigorated by social interactions and leaves the party feeling more energized. (I do tend to wonder if extreme extroverts are actually energy vampires and that’s why the rest of us, including the majority of extroverts, feel so drained when we interact with them.) For introverts to recharge, we require time alone. I and others consider this fundamental difference in energy management to be the core principle that differentiates introverts and extroverts.

In conclusion, just because we introverts sometimes keep to ourselves, it’s unlikely that we are any more – or less – likely to be serial killers than your average extrovert.

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What an Introvert Is and Isn’t