Monday, November 30, 2009

Is it better to be insecure than introverted?

I'm going to pick the 10 winners of the book giveaway on FlowerDust tomorrow, and I have learned a lot through reading the commments on Anne's post.  Here are the two things that most stand out to me:

1. There is a lot of confusion about what introversion is.  I think a lot of people assume that if they are comfortable socializing or feel the need to be around people then they must be extroverts or else riding the line between introversion and extroversion.  Of course, they may be extroverts or somewhere in the middle, BUT it's important to keep coming back to this: introversion/extroversion is primarily determined by energy source. Do you find it primarily in solitude (or in good conversation with a close friend) or in community?  Introverts can be very effective communicators and at ease among people, just as extroverts also need time alone.  But crowds will drain introverts after a while and solitude will drain extroverts after a while.  The farther you are on one side of the scale, the less need/desire you will have for the opposite.  But if introverts are loners or antisocial people, it's not because of their introversion!

2. It almost seems that people are more comfortable defining themselves as "insecure" or "shy" extroverts than they are with the label "introverts."  Anne Jackson realized that she is probably more of an "insecure extrovert" than an introvert, and I'm sure she's right about that.  But I would also guess that some of the commenters who also want to call themselves insecure extroverts actually fall on the introverted side of the scale.  But my question is, is the cultural bias such that people would rather call themselves "insecure" than "introverts"?!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Giveaway!!

This a fantastic opportunity.  My friend Anne Jackson is giving away 10 copies of Introverts in the Church this week on her blog, FlowerDust.  Answer her question and maybe you'll get a free book! 

FlowerDust Book Giveaway: Introvert or Extrovert?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Tradition

I've posted this link the last two years, so I guess it's becoming a tradition.  With the holiday season upon us, I know a lot of introverts are hoping for some strategies for surviving all the extroverted onslaught.  Families descend upon us, office parties inundate us, and shopping malls taunt us.  So first is a link that promises this too will pass:

Happy Introvert Day (January 2nd)

Second, here are a few suggestions for navigating the holiday season:

1. Take time for your inner life.  The holiday season in the US is notoriously outward focused, which may be one of the reasons a lot of people lament the loss of meaning.  I find Advent liturgies, candles, and the prophecies foretelling the advent of the Messiah, and the birth narratives of Jesus, to be particularly poignant.  Take time to read, pray, and reflect.

2. Learn how to say "no."  Some of us are naturally "yes" people - our default response when given an invitation - but that can be particularly damaging to us when the invitations are furious and constant.  When we learn how to say no we say yes to God who created us as introverts and to our true selves.  I usually say "no" to parties that are loaded with strangers, unless I have a real purpose for being there. When my closest friends call, though, I'm there. 

3. When you attend a party, find one or two people that you know or want to know, and see if you can engage them in conversation.  Listen.  Ask questions.  Try to concentrate your energies there instead of being distracted by all the other action in the room (I read recently that introverts actually take in too much of their environment, whereas extroverts let most of it wash over them). 

4. When you need a break, try one or more of these ideas: Peruse a person's bookshelf. Take a walk outside. Wander the house like you're just taking a tour. Hang out in the bathroom for a while.  Sit on the side and watch.

Here's a link to the Psychology Today website with more ideas:

Party Survival Tactics for Introverts

Other ideas for holiday survival?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can introverts lead?

Can introverts lead?  That's the question posed on the cover of the current issue of Christian Century, the leading magazine of mainline Protestantism.  They reprint 2500 words of my leadership discussion in chapter 6 of Introverts in the Church.  You can read it by clicking the link below:

Can introverts lead?  Breaking Down Stereotypes.  By Adam McHugh

(And no, that's not me on the cover!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My first radio interview

I did a 45 minute radio interview on Wednesday, with Rich Buhler, host of Talk from the Heart, KBRT740 in Los Angeles.  They're going to be rebroadcasting it at 7AM (Pacific) on both Saturday and Sunday mornings this weekend.  You can listen to it online by following the link below.

KBRT 740

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Stock

Introverts in the Church is now in stock and shipping out from Amazon!!!  The picture on the sidebar will take you there.

It's also on the cover of the latest issue of Christian Century (!!!); it's available in print but not yet online.  I will link to it as soon as it is.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autographed Copies

I received my first batch of books in the mail yesterday.  It's hard to describe the feeling of opening that box.  I had a staring contest with the box for 6 hours before I finally opened it.  5 years in the making.  And it was one of the highlights of my life.

If you want a signed copy, there is now a link on the far right sidebar, where you can buy a copy through PayPal.  It's $18 ($15 for signed copy, $3 for shipping)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Help for weary travelers

I occasionally do topical searches on Twitter, and recently when I searched on "introverts" the topic that most frequently appeared is "self-promotion for introverts." There is also a new book out, called, not surprisingly, Self-Promotion for Introverts. I haven't read the book yet, but it is selling extremely well. Apparently, this is a hot topic, as introverts are trying to figure out how it is that they can get ahead and get what they want in a world so often slanted towards extroverts.

I myself am heavily engaged in promoting my own book, and I have commented before on the deep ironies of publishing a book. You spend months or years in the privacy of your study, in libraries, in quiet coffee shops, and in the solitude of your thoughts writing and rewriting and preparing your manuscript. At the end of that arduous, soul-satisfying, introverted process, do you get a nice needed rest while your publicists do all the work of putting the book out there for others to discover? Not so much. You are thrust in the limelight and into the work of promoting your book. From what I understand the world of book promotion has changed considerably in the last few years, as the publicity budgets have shrunk and publishers have had to scale back due to the recession. No matter who publishes your book, it is now expected that authors will be the lead publicists for their work. If you want your book to do well, you must seek out radio interviews, speaking engagements, and other kinds of platforms.

I'm only a couple of months into promoting the book, and the hard work hasn't even begun yet, but I already feel a tiredness seeping into my mind and body. I have some promotional game - I can talk about the topic with some expertise, I have social skills, much promotion can be done online and via the written word, and my undergraduate experience taught me some valuable networking tools (thank you Claremont McKenna College), but if I'm honest, promoting is an extroverted job. And no matter how well I can work the angles, it's draining.

The more I meet fellow introverts (and this book has afforded me plenty of opportunities to do so - a tremendous gift), the more I meet fellow weary travelers. No matter what arenas we find ourselves in, what career paths we're taking, what social circles we're walking in, what steps we're taking to grow and progress in our lives, a lot of us are just tired. We masquerade as extroverts out of necessity, but it takes its toll.

It's not really in my nature to provide really practical suggestions, but I'm going to take a stab at it here, because tiredness, if it persists for long periods of time, is dangerous to the soul.

1. Seek out the proper motivations. Not only does self-promotion not fit us temperamentally, but I just don't think it's good theology. We're in the business of God-promotion, not self-promotion. That doesn't mean we can't quietly talk about our strengths and our gifts, but it does mean the objects of our promotion should be in line with our beliefs. I do not think that money, fame, or personal glory should be our goals. Our goals should be in finding those places and situations in which we can best serve the individual purposes and callings that God has given each one of us. Those contexts in which we can be obedient to God and the best servants of other people. Each morning I pray that God would use my book not for my own aggrandizement or personal success but for the sake of other introverts who long to find their homes in God and in their communities, and to be faithful as who they are.

2. Zealously guard your solitude. If you are not carving out niches of solitude on a regular basis - daily, weekly, monthly - then you are in danger of a tiredness that can tamper with your soul and your joy in God. Find your own rhythms of engagement and retreat. Deepen your spirituality and your prayer practices. Find opportunities for intellectual engagement and develop hobbies that spark your imagination and creativity. If you have a hard time saying no to social invitations, look at that tendency in yourself and discern what void you are trying to fill. Consider how your inability to say no may actually be preventing you from what you truly need.

3. Develop 2-3 intimate friendships. We may not require the quantities of social interaction that extroverts do, but we need a couple of people that we can safely share our vulnerabilities with. You just may discover that you are not alone.

4. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Several neurological studies have demonstrated that introverts require more sleep than extroverts, to restore our brain chemicals and to help prevent quick feelings of overwhelm. 8-9 hours of sleep is standard for many introverts. Sleep is good, and God given.

What other suggestions do you have for combating the onset of a dangerous tiredness?