All of us will benefit by being more aware, but in addition a leader has to be aware of other people and quite often aware for other people. That is, he anticipates what the group is thinking and feeling. Ego blocks this kind of awareness, and so does ambition, selfishness, and competitiveness – if you let them stand in the way.  ~ Deepak Chopra

I believe awareness is the key to fulfillment but it’s damn hard to maintain and share when ambition and competitiveness are so highly valued in our culture. DeepakchopraConstant consciousness and awareness of others’ internal workings zaps energy as well. When you feel for others too deeply you lose sight of your own inner guidance.

You alone can raise the group’s awareness from lower needs to higher needs.

~ Deepak Chopra

I’m not so sure Deepak.  When I first took an interest in family mediation I felt confident I could help couples work toward  their highest selves during the stressful and emotional time of divorce.  I could get them to work together for the best interest of their futures and their children. I could be unbiased because I am empathic.  I mostly see good in people. What I found out in class is that I could do all those things but at the same time I would be feeling and taking on the bitterness, sorrow and competitiveness of each of the parties as well.  To add to that, mediation sessions often include lawyers, financial advisors and more recently, the children. Everyone wants a short-term win.  Money and parenting time are the top prizes.  I’m not sure I could give the clients what they want (quick answers) because I am aware of so many perspectives that it takes time for me to develop solutions. It’s difficult for me to be succinct and efficient (i.e. come up with proposals quickly, answers to money questions, legal knowledge) when my mind is turning over every nuance and notion of everyone involved.

I have this same dilemma at home.  I am so aware of others’ (my children, ex-husband, boyfriend, friends, family) feelings that I can’t think straight. I want to be decisive and lead but I can’t do that when I can’t hear my own inner voice.  As mentioned in, What If Schools Put Character Building First and Standardized Tests Second?, the highest level of character is guided from within — not swayed by external influences. I don’t know if this is normal for an introvert or if I am highly sensitive but I worry a lot about how others feel.  I also am conscious of denying my own self the right to speak or take action. If given the space, I can hear my true calling, but it’s hard to get the space when you feel so much for others.

Introverts and Awareness

Deepak Chopra says awareness is like an antenna, constantly assessing the feedback from both inside and outside an individual. This kind of assessing is common for introverts. Introverts are observers. We are listeners.  We are in tune with our inner worlds – we are comfortable going inward to our thoughts, impressions and ideas.

Physiologically introverts process information differently than extroverts.  Our brain paths are longer and we put more into long-term memory. This careful and constant analyzing takes energy.  That’s why introverts value solitude — fewer interruptions of the process, more time to make associations. We are energized by meaningful conversation, so contrary to popular belief, we do enjoy company it’s just that small groups and one on one conversations are preferable to crowds.

Stimulation in the form of interactions, interruptions, emotional reactions, noise, etc. drain an introvert quicker than an extrovert.  Speaking for my introverted self, there is a fine line between being highly conscious and overloaded.

 Can Introverts Be Leaders?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~ John Quincy Adams

lightbulbI do believe introverts can be amazing leaders.  They are listeners and innovators.  They are thoughtful in their actions.  The secret is to make space to hear your inner vision.  It’s OK to unplug from group think and allow self-guidance. Reflection is not valued as much as ambition in our society but introverted leaders change that. They use their awareness as a light to shine on possibilities and a vision to fulfill others’ needs.

How conscious are you of your inner voice? The feelings and perspectives of others? Do you ever feel too sensitive? Insensitive?

Related Reading:

Awareness by Anthony De Mello

 Introverted Not Incompetent: Validating Softer Life Skills (space2live)

  What’s Wonderful?: Quiet the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (space2live)

 I’d Rather Not Compete With You: For Introverts or Anyone Who Prefers Excellence Over Dominance (space2live)