Introverts Declare

You probably know that May is Introvert Month, starting this past May. It was about time, don’t you think. It’s not that we introverts minded being ignored since forever; it’s just that we were frequently pressured to transform ourselves into extroverts. “Get out of your shell.” “Join in.” “Don’t act so depressed.” “Relax and have a little fun.” “Come to the party.” “Get over your shyness.”

Well, I hope all of that nonsense has been put to rest. We enjoy being introverts and have little to no interest in parties, social gatherings, drinking fountain gossip or just hanging out with friends and co-workers. Spending time by ourselves or maybe with one other person who does not pressure too much is our comfort zone, where life and living are at their best. We aren’t asking extroverts to change and are simply asking that they don’t pressure us to change either.

If That’s you I’m hearing with that “hurry, hurry, hurry” or “rush, rush, rush,” I’m picking up on your pressure to get to the point. I’m okay with your extrovert impatience, but it’s not going to get me to go any faster. I’m not totally immune to social pressure, but it sure doesn’t get me to stop doing things in my own good time.

Here’s the thing. I have a recommendation. But before I get to the recommendation, I need to help you with perspective.

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“Stubbornness does have its helpful
features.  You always know what you are
going to be thinking tomorrow.” — Glen Beaman

Stubbornness certainly has its up side. It’s like the famous
Anon. said, “Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new
solutions.” While you are considering how relaxed you will be, though, ponder
Doug Floyd’s point, “You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.”
The truth of the matter is that it can quickly get down right boring.

There is another snag that can seriously temp you to stick to
the same ol’, same ol’. J. K. Galbraith described it this way, “The
conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” Sure,
thinking can be painful; but more to the point, it’s frequently hard work. As
Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the
reason why so few engage in it. “ If you were born tired and haven’t rested up
yet, thinking probably just isn’t for you; but…. – and there’s always a “but.”
This particular “but” was slipped in by Bertrand Russell who said, “In all
affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things
you have long taken for granted.”

If you are like many other folks, you may believe that you are
doing fine and don’t need to bother hanging a question mark on anything. You
may strongly feel that you are in good company and on the right road; but the
famous Anon. had a bit of homespun wisdom worth a moment’s thought, “Don’t
think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path;” and while
you are on a roll with the famous Anon., don’t forget that, “Before you can
break out of prison, you must first realize you’re locked up.”

Are you ready to make a break for it? If so, Dr. Seuss suggested
the perfect strategy for you, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because
those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

If the notion of having your own thoughts and ideas causes you
discomfort and anxiety, Tolkien had a helpful insight, “Not all those who
wander are lost.” At the same time, John Locke had a further insight to help
you make it through the transition to thinking for yourself, “New opinions are
always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because
they are not already common.” People’s disagreeing does not mean you are wrong.
It’s like the famous Anon. said, “One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no
footprints;” and footprints of your own you will and should leave. As you leave
your footprints along the road to thinking for yourself, Satchel Paige had what
may be the only advice you need, “Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but
there ain’t no man got to be common.”


Your success is a function of the people who have helped you succeed
and, in turn, of the people you help succeed. It works like this.

•Successful people have developed services
lines you link into to expand and enrich your internal resources. Call those
opportunities you link to input .

•You in turn mix the input with your
internal resources to develop your services line. Call that through-put .

•Your services line, in turn, is success
input for others. Call that output .

Think of the input as the raw materials for your success business. The
through-put is what you add to the value of the input. If the input plus the
through-put does not exceed the value of the input, then you are not adding any

For example, if you spend your life doing only what you learned how to
do in school, you are not adding any value. You are simply taking the input and
using it, as is. If you do most everything exactly the same way you did it last
year, you are not adding any value. If you are only teaching your children the
same things you were taught, you are not adding any value.

Here is the success equation, the formula letting you know whether you
are succeeding.

•Success = O

Your success is relative to the opportunities you have had and to how
much you have added to those opportunities. Consider these three people and ask
yourself who is the most successful, using the success equation.

•A young woman drops out of school to care
for her disabled father. By the time she is twenty-years-old, she has two
children and the continuing responsibility for her father. She attends classes
at the community college and gets a secretarial job. She now cares for her
father, is taking care of her children, does work with her church, and spends
most days counting her pennies and feeling exhausted.

•A young woman from a working-class family
finishes college, using scholarships and part-time work to finance her
education. After college, she works as a social worker and pursues her interest
in becoming a writer. Although she has not had a book published yet, she works
on it daily. For now, she is still living with her parents to save money and
focuses her energy on women’s issues through her writing.

•A third young woman from a well-to-do
family graduates from a prestigious law school and is developing a good
practice with a large law firm. Her plan is to make as much money as she can so
she can continue living the good life and financially support and help with
programs for abused children.

Apply the success equation to each woman. Who is the most successful?
Who has added the most value to the opportunities she has had?

Success is not a matter of where you are or how much you have. It is a
matter of how far you have come and how far you plan to go, how much your
output exceeds the value of the input. The extent of your success is only
limited by how much you will add to the opportunities available to you, how
much your success business adds to the success of other people.

As you evaluate the balance sheet for your success business, keep in
mind no one is interested in what you cannot or will not do for them. They are
interested only in what you will do to add to their success. Your success
business must add to its raw materials in ways increasing the value of the
output for other people. It is not a matter of what you think is important.
What actually makes a positive difference for other people is the only valid
measure of your success; so find ways to tell people yes, ways to increase
their success. This is the touch point, the place where you succeed together.


Your success is too important to accommodate anything else. Most
everyone has smaller goals and they even reach them most of the time. For them,
that is enough. Being able to pay the bills, having an adequate place to live,
driving a dependable car, holding down a good job, being able to provide for
their children, and perhaps a yearly vacation is about all they expect of
themselves and is about all they ever have.

Limiting themselves to such timid goals works for them and for others
who are not totally and unequivocally committed to success; but for you and the
rest of the creme de la creme who will never be satisfied with mediocrity, such
mundane goals are hardly worthy of being called goals. They are simply part of
taking care of business while you get on with taking care of your success. You
expect to use your internal resources, your potential to develop a services
line taking you into realms most people can but dream about, if they are even
aware of the possibility.

“But Simon,” you ask, “Where are these realms, how will
I have changed when I get there?” Simon can be your coach but cannot tell
you either where or what those realms are for you. They are your life-changing
goals, not Simon’s; but there are a few truths pointing you in the right

•You cannot reach goals you do not have.

•You cannot reach someone else’s goals.

•Plan on where you are going before you
plan on how to get there.

Goal setting starts with understanding you cannot succeed without them.
Not having success goals is like jumping off a thousand foot cliff into a
raging river without knowing being able to fly is sometimes more important than
being able to swim. You are at a point in your life where you have never been
before and your success lies ahead of you. For most people, there is no real
issue in this. Their plan is to simply keep doing more of what they have been
doing and then retire. For you, though, there is much more at stake.

Your interest goes far beyond merely moving into your future without
too many problems or unforeseen circumstances. You expect to have a lot of
both. You thrive on problems; and if there are not a few big ones on your plate
today, you are losing focus. The challenge of expanding and enhancing your
internal resources and improving your services line is always there, complete
with problems to solve and opportunities to exploit. You are always moving into
new realms and cannot anticipate everything. There are always unforeseen
circumstances requiring all of your concentration and imagination. For you, big
problems and new territory are integral to who you are, to what you do.

You just assume the thousand foot cliff is out there somewhere and you
have to jump off of it sooner or later; and jump off of it you do. In the
meantime, you make sure you know how to swim and how to fly when the
opportunity to jump presents itself to you.

What are your success goals? Nine out of ten people’s response is,
“To be rich, to have a million dollars.” Well, okay. That would certainly
change your life, assuming you do not already have a million or two laying
around; and if that is your success goal, what have you done today to get
yourself further down the million dollar track?

While you are contemplating your next million dollars, take time to
consider other possibilities. For you, being a totally competent parent,
leading a winning team, being sure your community has the highest quality
schools, eliminating hunger, or writing the next best-selling novel may be more
important. How you define success is up to you. They are your success goals,
not someone else’s. Your challenge is to;

•Develop a range of success goals, not a
single win/lose success goal,

•Set success goals exceeding your reach
but not your vision,

•Be clear about what success is for you,
how your life is changed when you succeed,

•Be clear about what you need to do and
what you do to succeed,

•Be persistent and consistent in your
pursuit of your success.

Simon has some tips you may find helpful. Wherever success lies for

•Make something bigger

•Enhance its function

•Increase its flexibility

•Make it more efficient

•Make it more distinctive

•Make it work differently

•Make it more effective

•Make it more affordable

•Make it more appealing

•Make it more convenient

•Develop a substitute

•Do it faster

•Combine it with something

•Arrange it differently

Simon says
“Perspiration is only preparation for your success.” This is a fact
of success life easier to accept in principle than in practice. The problem is
just because you are succeeding does not mean you are enjoying the trip.

Most people associate success with “the good life” or with
“having it made.” For them, people who are successful only work when
they want to work; and when they do work, they only do those things they like
to do. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, they do mostly whatever
they want to do, whenever they want to do it. The principle is being successful
makes it possible to be self-indulgent.

Success is about as far from self-indulgence as winning the Indianapolis 500 is from
liking to drive. It helps to enjoy a lot of the thousand things you do to
succeed; but it is very unlikely you enjoy them all and equally unlikely you
enjoy even things you do like all of the time. Success is not about having fun;
it is about succeeding. In the long run, this may be the single most important
factor separating you from people who only dream about success.

The dreamers believe enjoying what they do is truly important. You understand
your success is the only thing that matters. The ironic twist is you are having
a lot more fun succeeding than the dreamers are having complaining about what
they have to do in order to have time to do what they like to do. You are
succeeding and by any measure, success is a lot more fun than the alternatives.

There are two additional elements separating you from the dreamers.
First, they save their personal best for those things they think really matter.
Second, they adjust their level of effort to how important they think something
is. The result is most of what they do does not reflect their best work. It is
more enjoyable or at least not as unpleasant for them that way.

For you, though, a different standard operates. Your self-discipline
rules are:

•”If what I am doing does not warrant
my personal best, I am probably doing the wrong thing.”

•”I do whatever I am doing as if it
were the most important thing I have ever done.”

You have likely heard the story about the self-made-man.

“I am a self-made-man.”

“It does look like after all these years you would have gotten
better at it. The next time, you may want to consider out-sourcing the

Since you cannot out-source your success, everything you do matters,
nothing you do is unimportant. You are working for you; nothing but your best
effort will ever do. Your success deserves no less than your best, the first
time, on time, every time, with everything, no exceptions, no excuses.