I love that word – to me it conjures up images of words whirling around as if in the middle of a prairie storm that is moving across the brain and leaving behind a changed landscape.

Brainstorming – the activity of coming up with ideas somewhat related to a topic in an effort to move forward – is something I think I can do well on my own.

But my nerves kick in when it is time to brainstorm in a group! Now that I am back attending classes as a student and getting involved in research projects…I know that group brainstorm sessions are inevitably waiting for me around the corner.

Although I know in my head, that for it to be true brainstorming – you need not worry if an idea you put forth isn’t your “best one.” But I do.

I am someone who needs time to go away and think things through…so being ‘put on the spot’ to ‘spontaneously’ come up with ‘great’ ideas in a room full of people terrifies me. It used to bother me a lot – thinking that the group would see me as someone not having anything ‘worthy of contributing’ – or if I did contribute, I would worry that it wasn’t ‘good enough.’

Thankfully, I have been gaining a new perspective from a book called “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Olsen Laney. Here are some highlights:

  • Introversion is at its root a type of temperament – it is not the same as shyness or having a withdrawn personality
  • We are social beings living in a culture that rewards the qualities of extroverts
  • There is a continuum with an extroverted end and an introverted end – where we fall predicts how we get energized
  • Extroverts draw energy from their external world of activities, people, places, and things – like a solar panel, they need to be out to be re-fueled
  • Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions, and impressions – like a rechargeable battery, they need breaks in a less stimulated space to restore energy
  • Introverts do like people 🙂 and enjoy brief stints ‘performing’ at ‘centre stage’ (i.e., teaching) but it is a big energy drain

This book is an excellent read for both introverts and extroverts – and especially a helpful resource for teachers and parents. Laney mentions that extroverts and introverts can successfully pair up because each possess different strengths – interestingly, Frank is more on the extroverted end of the continuum 🙂 Laney even discusses genetics and brain activity – fascinating topics!

Gaining a bit of insight into the different ‘brainscapes’ of introverts and extroverts has helped me feel better about my (natural) discomfort in group brainstorming sessions. I now understand that:

Introverts…like to rehearse before speaking…need time for ideas or solutions to “pop” into their heads…require reflection time without pressure…physical space to let their feelings and impressions bubble up…and are in a constant distilling process that requires lots of “innergy”…

Introverts can also be creative and imaginative… sounds just like Calvin 🙂

P.S. …as with a lot of things these days, there is software available. I have added two websites to my Links page – for those who are interested in a computerized way of organizing space for brainstorming…

One response

  1. Good insights, Tracy. I can relate to a lot of the above and love my mulling things over time. I enjoy using mind maps with drawings to see the big picture and to help me be aware of connections I may not have perceived earlier. A rushed group brainstorm makes me want to go home and contemplate everyone’s ideas. Certainly not a good method for making on the spot decisions!

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