Introverts have hidden talents people disregard in modern society
First Aron interviewed thirty-nine people who described themselves as being either introverted or easily overwhelmed by stimulation. She asked them about the movies they liked, their first memories, relationships with parents, friendships, love lives, creative activities, philosophical and religious views. Based on these interviews, she created a voluminous questionnaire that she gave to several large groups of people. Then she boiled their responses down to a constellation of twenty-seven attributes. She named the people who embodied these attributes “highly sensitive”.
Some of these twenty-seven attributes were familiar from Kagan and others’ work. For example, highly sensitive people tend to be keen observers who look before they leap. They arrange their lives in ways that limit surprises. They’re often sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, coffee. They have difficulty when being observed (at work, say, or performing at a music recital) or judged for general worthiness (dating, job interviews).
But there were also new insights. The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions—sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear.
Highly sensitive people also process information about their environ1nents—both physical and elnotional—unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss—another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.
Recently a group of scientists at Stony Brook University tested this finding by showing two pairs of photos (of a fence and some bales of hay) to eighteen people lying inside fMRI machines. In one pair the photos were noticeably different from each other, and in the other pair the difference was much more subtle. For each pair, the scientists asked whether the second photo was the same as the first. They found that sensitive people spent more time than others looking at the photos with the subtle differences. Their brains also showed more activity in regions that help to make associations between those images and other stored information. In other words, the sensitive people were processing the photos at a more elaborate level than their peers, reﬂecting more on those fenceposts and haystacks.
It is necessary here to insist once more that in Magellan audacity, boldness, invariably assumed a peculiar complexion. To act boldly did not, in his case, mean to act on the heat of impulse, but to lay his plans craftily, to do the dangerous thing with the utmost caution and after most careful calculation. His most venturesome schemes were, like good steel, forged in fire and then hardened in ice. It was by this mixture of imagination and caution that, again and again, he triumphed in moments of danger. His plan was instantly formed, and the brief time before it ...
[Steve jobs, 1981, pitching the first Macintosh]
" This is a 21st century bicycle for your mind. "
As ever, the accountant in me saw the risk, the entrepreneur saw the possibility.
Their defining quality is probably that they really love to program. Ordinary programmers write code to pay the bills. Great hackers think of it as something they do for fun, and which they're delighted to find people will pay them for. Great programmers are sometimes said to be indifferent to money. This isn't quite true.