How Introverts Can Overcome Barriers to Strategic Thinking

Ask most people how effective their strategic thinking skills are, and many will say they are exceptional.

We generally carry the same overinflation with how smart and attractive we think we are.

And yes, many of these notions are subjective and based on the eyes of the beholder.

Although strategic thinking is often characterized by corporate leadership and organizational development, the popularity of Niccolò Machiavelli’s book, “The Prince,” and Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power” have introduced strategic thinking into the vocabulary of everyday living. 

So, when people refer to their strategic thinking skills, they refer to the ability to maneuver in life to achieve the highest levels of success—financially, professionally, and socially.

Strategic thinking is essential for introverts because they must use different mechanisms to succeed in an extrovert-driven society.

And introverts are best equipped for strategic thinking because they have the patience, introspection, and methodical mindset to create and execute strategic plans.

As a result, introverts must be realistic about their strategic thinking skills because their happiness and long-term success depend on them.

Developing superior strategic thinking skills requires a baseline to determine a starting point.

And this baseline begins with the question, “Am I getting the results I’m looking for?”

In this context, strategic thinking is subjective and qualitative because it depends on the individual’s ambition, determination, and insecurity.

Many introverts have been underrated early on in life. And like the old saying suggests, “Success is the best revenge.”

Consequently, the need to be successful requires a relentless determination that people who have been coddled and pampered throughout their life may not possess.

You must be sensitive to degrading experiences at a deep level. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be impacted by them. And visceral emotions of degradation can’t be manufactured.

Introverts’ barriers to strategic thinking

Although introverts are hardwired to be world-class strategists, there is often a barrier that keeps them from becoming one—fear and self-doubt.

As an introvert, I have always had nervous energy and played by the rules ensuring that I didn’t hurt or offend anyone unintentionally.

I ran into my fifth-grade teacher a few years ago, who reminded me that anytime a new student entered our class, I was the first to say, “I’ll be your friend.”

I didn’t remember the experience, but that sounded like something I would have said.

I was reared in a household where mainstream values were preached and practiced.

The challenge I have always faced was not living life on my terms. It seemed like I was constantly the voice of reason during disagreements.

I was the one who people could always count on to come through when they needed me.

And I was the one who was invited to business or social events when there was heavy lifting to be done (create an email list of potential guests, hire the DJ, develop a budget, etc.).

So, the barrier for me was the fear and unwillingness to say “no.” I felt “no” would be met with disapproval and would stop gaining their favor.

And this need for approval by others stems from self-doubt developed in childhood.

Colleagues and friends exercised strategic thinking skills when they asked me for favors because they figured out I needed to belong.

They needed to keep asking, and I would keep saying “yes” because I was afraid of them saying “no” to my value.

They figured out the game of life and used me as a pawn.

introverts overcoming barriers

Our constitutions and philosophies can serve as barriers to our intellectual freedom. Often, I have gravitated to literature that mythologized weakness. The works of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Marcus Aurelius did not give me the punch I needed.

I did not commit to becoming a more effective strategic thinker and ultimately a strategist until I read the works of Alfred Adler, Charles Darwin, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Ayn Rand. 

Introverts’ upbringing, milquetoast personalities, and appeasing philosophies create barriers to practical strategic thinking.

How introverts can overcome barriers to strategic thinking

For introverts to overcome the obstacles to strategic thinking, they must reinvent themselves by first questioning everything they believe to be true.

If we are a by-product of our genetic makeup and environmental influences, our genetic hardwiring will be nurtured or hampered by our environmental impacts.

Consequently, introverts inclined to play fair and merely get along in a self-interested world are disadvantaged.

They must first embrace that no one is coming to save them. Introverts must become existentialists in creating their desired world based on their design.

And this involves becoming crystal clear about objectives.

In short, what do you want?

Conservative commentator Larry Elder said on Twitter, “You get out of life what you put into it. You can’t control the outcome, but you are 100% in control of the effort.”

Once introverts embrace the notion behind existentialism, they must read the historical works of philosophers and thought leaders who have shaped civilization.

As mentioned earlier, Alfred Adler, Charles Darwin, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Ayn Rand are foundational thinkers for becoming a realist about the world.

Finally, all new information discovered must go through a vetting process. The IBAR Critical Thinking Method is a five-step process that suggests:

  1. Diagnosing an issue or problem.
  2. Identifying industry leaders, standards, and best practices as possible solutions.
  3. Analyzing benchmarks to discover how and why they may work in this case.
  4. Choosing which benchmarks to use as solutions.
  5. Prioritizing solutions from best to good and evaluating which will be executed.

Introverts must take a systematic approach to overcome barriers to strategic thinking.

Introverts can have life on their terms by becoming clear about outcomes, embracing the work of historical figures, and adopting a systematic way of planning and making decisions.

So, if you are ever asked, “Are you an effective strategic thinker?” You can respond by stating the historical figures you study and the critical thinking method you follow.

In most cases, your opponent will not be able to do the same.

—Jane Woodard

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