Maybe you know an introvert, or are one yourself. They’re quite common. They might seem quiet and not always as interested in casual conversation as others you know, but that doesn’t mean they have any less of a chance of changing the world someday.
Often, introverts are classified as shy, antisocial loners who do not prefer to spend time around people. In reality, introverts are just like anyone else: they are simply energized by the time they spend alone.
So it only makes sense that some of the greatest leaders we know of in our time just so happen to be introverts. When they are not able to solve problems in groups, they can work just as efficiently on their own. They have the ability to build platforms and send messages using their own thoughts and ideas, because it is when they are alone that they are their most creative and inspired.
Here are five great leaders who have an introvert personality, and the things we can learn from them.
It takes a lot of drive and inspiration to create something that will earn you billions of dollars before the age of 30. Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, one of the world’s youngest billionaires … and an introvert.
The prodigy was creating his own computer games and programs by the age of 12, and first created the original Facebook platform while studying at Harvard. Computer programming means a lot of time spent alone working, and when you spend it doing something creative, it only fuels your motivation and success even more.
Just because you’re really good at something and prefer to spend your time learning on your own, as Zuckerberg did as he flew through his higher education at an early age, doesn’t mean you won’t someday be able to use what you have learned to build a highly successful career.
2. Bill Gates
Gates is an entrepreneur and, because of it, one of the richest men in the world. At the age of 13, though, his parents worried about him. He preferred to read reference books and, though he was an excellent student, seemed withdrawn.
This behavior, which prompted his parents to enroll him in a preparatory academy, would later lead to him excelling in school so much that he ventured out on his own to co-found Microsoft, now one of the biggest software companies throughout the world.
There’s nothing wrong with preferring to spend time alone with your books or playing around on a computer creating programs. You never know: it could lead to something much bigger and more successful than you ever thought you could imagine.
3. J.K. Rowling
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily make you a more creative person, but many introverts are known to possess the trait, including widely successful author J.K. Rowling.
The renowned Harry Potter author first got the initial idea for the book series while traveling alone on a train to London. She wrote and sold the first book in the series as a single mother living off of welfare. It took her years to find a publisher who would purchase it, but she persevered.
Spending a large portion of your life writing such intriguing fantasy requires an imagination beyond comprehension, but Rowling used her time as a single mother raising her daughter as a strength rather than a weakness and managed to create a series of stories sold successfully all over the world.
4. Barack Obama
Within 12 years, Barack Obama went from Illinois senator to a member of the U.S senate to becoming the 44th president of the United States. He was elected because he was able to prove he could be a great leader, and that ability to lead effectively did not come out of nowhere. It was simply part of his personality.
The U.S. president grew up without his biological father, and was sent from Indonesia to Hawaii to live with his grandparents when he was young. He spent much of his early life contemplating concepts of race, because he graduated from high school as one of only three enrolled African American teens.
His success in civil rights work eventually led him to win state and national senate seats and the 2008 presidential election. This only goes to show that no matter how lonely someone might seem as a child, it does not mean they will not learn to thrive on that alone time and eventually go on to make great changes in the world.
5. Emma Watson
You might recognize Watson from the vastly successful Harry Potter film franchise, but the actress is also a rising model and activist. She landed her first major acting role at a very young age but managed to step away from her best-known movie character to show the world who she really is.
She attended a theater academy as a child, which eventually led to her landing her most famous film role, which is why it is often so hard to believe she is actually an introvert. Acting gives introverts the confidence to excel in social situations even if they are still at their best when alone.
Being an introvert does have its perks. Introverts are able to work, create and brainstorm even when there isn’t anyone around to collaborate with. They are often self-driven and observant, which means they can both spot and solve everyday problems others might not even realize are there.
If you are an introvert, have confidence that your ability to listen, observe, set goals and focus on the things you want to accomplish has the potential to take you very far in your life. You’re not “too shy” or “too quiet.” You just prefer to express your thoughts and feelings while alone, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
These five great and successful leaders have shown us, and continue to do so, that time spent alone is rarely wasted. If being alone inspires you, always make time to spend away from others so you can do great things all throughout your lifetime.