My letter I is not scarlet

January 16, 2011


My mother used to name-call me an Introvert, like it was a disability to be overcome. It’s taken me a long time to unlearn that. Extraversion and introversion are simply two different ways of being in the world.  And I’m happier when I’m being myself and not trying to be something else. I now own my introverted nature with pride.

I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and got my results in a two-hour session with my career consultant. The MBTI is a well-known instrument to help you determine your personality type. The portion people are most familiar with is determining whether you are an introvert (I) or an extravert (E).

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an E or an I.  Being an I does not mean you are shy and retiring; being an E does not mean you are aggressive and annoying. E’s are energized by the outer world of action, people and things.  I’s are energized by the inner world of ideas, thoughts and reflections. One is not better than the other. We can all do both – it’s a matter of knowing what boosts your energy and what depletes it.

I completely know I’m an I and the MBTI results confirmed it. The way I recharge my batteries is by spending time alone. Too much aloneness is not good, but I know I need to schedule it in to keep myself happy and productive.

During the discussion with my consultant, I learned that this kind of information about yourself and others can be very useful at work.  For example, E’s are energized by meetings, while I’s are drained by meetings. And I’s enjoy working alone, while E’s may find it tiring.

Sometimes in the workplace, especially a corporate setting, leaders employ a one-size-fits-all approach: The “war room” concept (where a project team works together in a conference room sometimes for months on end) worked on the last project, let’s do it again! Kill me now.

I really hope I can use this knowledge in my current role to make me and my fellow I’s more contented and, of course, to set myself up for success in a new career path in the future.

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