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Leadership Thought #249 – Isolate Yourself At Your Own Risk

November 18, 2011

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Too many people isolate themselves to their own detriment.

Being an extrovert myself, I have often had a tough time understanding introverts but as I age, I have found myself becoming slightly more introverted.  Maybe I just appreciate peace and quiet more?  When you grow up in a large family as I did, you get used to all the noise and activity.  In fact, if you are extroverted you usually thrive in it.

The simple fact is that life involves dealing with people, especially if you aspire to a leadership position.  If you are an introvert, you will need to stretch your style to meet the requirements of management and leadership.  If you want to have a successful relationship with another person, then you will need to bond together.  This needs to be counterbalanced against your own preference to be alone.  If you opt to become a parent, you will need to put your own needs secondary to those of your child.  If you want to have a circle of friends and colleagues, then you will need to invest time and energy in keeping these friendships alive and healthy.

There is nothing wrong with being an introvert.  I sometimes envy their ability to be comfortable in their own skin and their willingness to embrace their “aloneness.”  However, as with everything, too much of anything is never a good thing.  Introversion that becomes self-imposed isolation is not healthy.  You can’t go through life solely focused on your own agenda and expect to be happy.  Part of the happiness formula involves having a positive impact on others.  Human beings expect some level of empathy from each other, and personal growth cannot happen in a vacuum.

While personal independence and self-reliance is a good thing, we live in a society that requires interdependency and cooperation.  It’s impossible to fully isolate yourself from other people. Children and the elderly are dependent based on the nature of their situation.  Physical and emotional vulnerability is a reality that confronts us all at the beginning and end of our lives.  In addition, many close adult and professional relationships are co-dependent because we need other people to both experience life fully and get things done.  You can’t just flip a switch and expect it to be there.

In times of trouble or difficulty, it does matter that you have a support network of people who genuinely care about you, gladly assume a supportive role, and allow you to let guard down and be real.  No man or woman is an island.  Personal isolation only leads to loneliness, bitterness, cynicism, and regret.  Don’t fight what nature puts in front of you to help guide you through the journey.  Isolate yourself at your own risk.