My grandfather was an achiever. When he was young, he got a job at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the carpentry shop. By the time he retired, he was one of the Engineering department’s lead project managers. He designed the lovely grand staircase you see when you walk into the main lobby at St. Vincent’s.
He also helped start and build the church that he attended for 26 years. He served as a deacon and the church treasurer.
When the Jefferson County commission proposed for a jail to be built in the Pinson area where my grandfather was a resident, he helped start a grassroots project that prevented the construction of the jail. The jail was to be built on a part of Turkey Creek that housed an endangered fish. A nature lover, my grandfather also had a vision for the creek and helped transform the land into the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.
That’s just to name a few of the awesome projects he organized throughout his lifetime. Reading this, you may assume that he was an outgoing, outspoken person. But in reality, my grandfather was very much an introvert, known to many in our community as “The Quiet Hero” of Turkey Creek.
I, along with my grandfather and about a third of the world’s population, am an introvert. If you’re not an introvert yourself, you know someone who is. Throughout school, I was often encouraged to speak up, as though my introversion was a problem – almost as though it was an affliction in need of curing. When I asked my Government and Economics teacher to sign my yearbook during my senior year of high school, he wrote, “It’s been a pleasure having you in my class. I hope you find your voice in college.”
There’s a common misconception that introverts are shy – and while some are, that’s not the case for all. I don’t consider myself a shy person in most situations. I simply think deeply before I speak. I don’t feel the need to pipe up in every conversation all the time. And I feel most productive and most stable in quieter, low-key environments.
I recently began reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It’s a great read that’s helping me discover a lot about myself. The author, Susan Cain, also did a wonderful TED talk called “The Power of Introverts.” It’s my favorite TED talk to date. I strongly encourage anyone – introvert, extravert, or ambivert – to watch it, as it provides a lot of good insight into how introverts thrive.
Cain discusses open-plan offices as a potential obstacle for introverts. Uh oh, right? Daxko is very much open-plan. Nope! I’ve discovered that as team-oriented and open as we are at Daxko, there is always a quiet place for me to retreat if I need to focus on a project in solitude (Travolta is one of my personal favorites).
I aspire to be like my grandfather. Though quiet and reserved, he was also greatly respected for his leadership and hard work. At his funeral, many people stood along the walls of the church because every seat was full. He impacted lives, and he was able to do so without bravado. I’m more comfortable now as an introvert than I was when I was in school. I realize that my introversion isn’t an affliction and instead a power source ready to be tapped into. As Susan Cain puts it, “Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.”
Janna B. is a Software Trainer who is begrudgingly becoming a morning person and wishes she lived in the late 1960s/early 1970s.