These successful, distinguished men remind us how impactful introverts can be.
As Susan Cain explains in her groundbreaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, we live in a society that primarily favors action over contemplation, group activity versus moments of solitude.
And society tends to ignore the fact that deep thought, focus, and creativity emerge most prominently during uninterrupted alone time — something we introverts are quite familiar with.
Some of our biggest role models out there — like Oprah! — are famous women who will make you proud to be an introvert. But plenty of renowned men are introverts, too, and you may not even realize it. Like the women, they prove leadership and innovation aren’t limited to their extroverted counterparts.
From a theoretical physicist to an NBA legend, here are five men who you might be surprised to discover were (or still are) textbook introverts.
5 Famous Males Who Will Make You Proud to Be an Introvert
1. Albert Einstein
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein is well-known for his brilliant mind and numerous contributions to humanity. He forever changed the way scientists think about time and space by pioneering the theories of relativity.
He then went on to win a Nobel Prize for physics in 1921 for his explanations of the photoelectric effect. Einstein’s scientific discoveries were certainly groundbreaking, but he was also admired for his deeply reflective approach to life. He believed that science and philosophy should always inform one another.
Einstein is considered by many to be the definition of a genius. And, as an introvert, he recognized the importance of solitude in enabling him to achieve his profound insights.
2. Bill Gates
“If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.” – Bill Gates
As cofounder of the trillion dollar tech company, Microsoft Corporation, it’s hard to deny that Bill Gates is a public figure with an enormous amount of influence. He is also someone who is dedicated to philanthropic efforts having started a foundation with his wife to help “…unlock the possibility inside every individual,” he said.
On being an introvert, Gates said, “I think introverts can do quite well … If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert.”
Reading, a favorite hobby of many introverts, plays an important role in Bill Gates’ life. He claims that from a young age, he would finish one book per week, and credits this habit as being integral to his success. He has found that reading fuels his sense of curiosity, exposes him to new perspectives, and allows him to always learn something new.
A few years ago, Gates also gained attention for revealing his twice-yearly ritual of partaking in “think weeks.” During these seven-day periods, he disconnects from society (including his family and friends) to be alone with his own thoughts in a secluded hideaway cottage. His intention is to remove himself from his usual distractions and spend his time reading, thinking, and inviting new ideas to emerge. “Think weeks” to indulge in some of my favorite introverted activities? Count me in!
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3. Michael Jordan
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” – Michael Jordan
Anyone who has followed the career of Michael Jordan knows that his status as an NBA legend is well-deserved. As his Emmy award-winning documentary The Last Dance reminded us, Jordan’s attitude of grit, steadfast determination, and hard work led to enormous success on the basketball court.
He was also one of the most marketed athletes ever, with endorsements from Nike, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, McDonald’s, and many other big name brands throughout his career.
As someone who spent countless years in the spotlight, it might be surprising to hear that Jordan is an introvert — with some even claiming his tendencies bordered on reclusiveness. The former NBA star proves that introverts can thrive in high-profile careers and inspire countless others by ambitiously going after their dreams.
4. Steven Spielberg
“The public has an appetite for anything about imagination – anything that is as far away from reality as is creatively possible.” – Steven Spielberg
One of the most popular film directors in history, Steven Spielberg is the creative mastermind behind beloved classics such as Jurassic Park, Jaws, E.T., and Indiana Jones, to name a few.
Introverted by nature, he’s disclosed to the media that he prefers to stay in on the weekends and indulge in movie marathons rather than go out. He also admits that he still gets tongue-tied when talking to strangers at gatherings — something many of us small-talk-averse introverts can relate to.
I think Spielberg’s introspective nature has proven itself to be well-suited for producing and directing films that leave a lasting impression on his viewers. His talent has also led to several Academy Award nominations, including two wins for Best Director.
Spielberg shows us why introverts make some of the best leaders and that being inwardly oriented can be an asset while working in the visual and performing arts.
5. Abraham Lincoln
“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.” – Abraham Lincoln
A man of humble origins, Abraham Lincoln was an introvert and a self-educated lawyer who defied the norms of the traditional politician. While many people may view communication skills as falling within extrovert territory, Lincoln was known for being a masterful and influential speaker.
As someone who was a prolific reader and good listener, he knew how to translate his love for the written word in speech and persuade others when engaged in conversation.
Lincoln was a savvy leader who played a crucial role in challenging slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, which is still considered to be one of the greatest documents of human freedom.
Frequently ranked by scholars as the top president of all time, this 6’4” president altered the course of history with his quiet confidence, empathy, and ability to reflect deeply on issues regarding humanity.
Introverts Can Do Anything
A Nobel-prize-winning physicist, tech mogul, NBA basketball legend, Hollywood director, and beloved president all had one thing in common: They were introverts. While mainstream culture still propagates the myth that leadership is the domain of extroverts, these trailblazers show us that inspiring others and being at the forefront of change is quite often an introvert’s speciality.
Who would you add to this list? Please share any other well-known male introverts who inspire you in the comments below.
You might like:
- 5 Women Who Will Make You Proud to Be an Introvert
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- 6 ‘Weird’ Things Introverts Do That Are Actually Completely Normal
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