Why Ambitious Introverts Find It Hard to Relax

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is credited with saying that you can have it all (in life), but not at the same time.

Unfortunately, many reject this notion opting to have it all right now.

These same people believe that a balanced lifestyle is also attainable in having it all.

In their minds, there is no cost in pursuing immediate gratification.

It’s a free-for-all, and anyone can engage in the process with optimal results.

However, ambitious introverts know better.

You can’t have it all at the same time without some sacrifice.

And a balanced lifestyle is a myth if you are pursuing an all-consuming goal.

Can introverts be ambitious?

Contrary to popular belief, not only can introverts be ambitious, but ambitious introverts find it hard to relax because pursuing their goals takes on missionary zeal.

These introverts have vivid imaginations tied to the epic feats of historical figures.

They read the works of Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Genghis Khan and view the impact of their endeavors in a similar light.

They may not envision overtaking land and people, but they do imagine overtaking anti-intellectuals’ dominance.

They aspire to see their works shine like that of political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, philosopher Ayn Rand, and psychotherapist Alfred Adler.

Ambitious introverts want to create bodies of work that transform the world and turn conventional thinking on its ear.

Unlike their dissenters who pursue materialism, ambitious introverts enjoy a high-quality lifestyle, but it’s the intellectual journey they are after.

Once the stress and tension of financial stability have been satisfied, they luxuriate in their research-driven cocoons.

Writers Malcolm Gladwell and Geoffrey Colvin popularized the idea of the 10,000-hour rule.

The 10,000-hour rule posits that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate and targeted practice to become world-class at a particular craft.

Introverts who enlist in achieving extraordinary goals may take decades to complete.

They may pivot several times along the way due to failed attempts, but invariably many will accomplish what they set out to do.

Of course, success is not guaranteed, but ambitious introverts believe the work is its reward.

What might be viewed as arduous is a labor of love for them.

How introverts deal with the stress of failure

Many introverts carry a nervous energy that has been prevalent throughout their lives.

Even at a mature age, they may still bite their fingernails.

This nervous tension catalyzes moving a project forward. And when things don’t go according to plan, ambitious introverts never stop investigating ways to overcome setbacks.

They are robotic in a sense, and everything is intellectualized.

In their minds, all that is required for a breakthrough is more reading and researching.

They believe that they are always one step away from success.

And it doesn’t matter if it takes months, years, or decades to find that missing step.

Ambitious introverts will plow through.

A healthy diet and exercise keep them from imploding.

Diet and exercise are part of the process for excellence that reduces stress.

However, it is also their vanity and self-image that keep them motivated.

If they didn’t think highly of themselves, they probably would quit like most people.

Quiet ambition

Ambitious introverts are silent about their motives and strategy. They don’t believe in sharing hard-fought lessons that give competitors an advantage.

They solve complex problems and believe that ill-informed and boisterous extroverts are their enemies.

They don’t view enemies as vicious but as wrong-headed influencers that provide untested and irrational information to an unsuspecting society.

Their relentlessness and restlessness are a counterbalance to the outlandishness of self-serving extroverts.

Although the motives of ambitious introverts are not entirely altruistic, they are thoughtful and value-driven.

They care about the impact of their work on the direction of society.

In the end, ambitious introverts are simultaneously trying to do good and well.

Ambitious introverts find it hard to relax because they believe their efforts are essential to bringing rational equity to the world.

This level of commitment requires a crusade-like mentality.

The downside to such dedication is that ambitious introverts take figurative meanings literally. They embrace the notion that everything costs in life.

Consequently, they are not trying to have it all simultaneously or maintain a balanced life.

They accept the price for long-term success and are willing to pay it.

And only history and self-assessment can determine if it was all worth it.

—Jane Woodard


“Pop!Tech 2008 – Malcolm Gladwell” by Pop!Tech is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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