Would you Hire Sir Isaac Newton, the Introvert?

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I've been looking forward to writing this article because Sir Isaac Newton personifies some of the outstanding introvert characteristics that you can learn to prize in yourself, your introverted child or your introverted lover. If you're an employer, you can also learn to identify two of these qualities in job interviews to your advantage. Introverts make terrific employees. These are the qualities: Sir Isaac Newton could concentrate like a Concentratin' Fool. He loved his dog Diamond. And he was a modest man. He had these three things in common with most introverts.

Sir Isaac Newton was born in 1642 in England. He is considered by some to be the most brilliant man that ever lived. Other contenders are Mozart and Goethe. Newton is credited with developing calculus and discovering the Laws of Gravitation and the Laws of Motion (more correctly, the "Three Laws of Motion underlying Classical Mechanics"). You probably learned in school at about the same age as he discovered these laws that an apple fell on his head which got him thinking. As the story goes, he wondered why the apple fell and the Moon didn't. His 23rd year was a phenomenon, an Annus Mirabilis. Later he also wrote Principia Mathematica in 1868-87 and Optics in 1704.)

Young Newton was a real seeker. As a young person he wrote in his notebook, "Amicus Plato; amicus Aristoteles; magis amica veritas" which means "Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but the truth is my best friend." Latin was the language in which the educated class in Europe communicated with one another.

Newton was recently in the news because of his Bibles. Like most introverts, Newton read a lot and one of the books he read a lot was the Bible. He had at least thirty of them. I've been running a book survey on my website for introverts. One of the questions I ask is whether people dog ear and write in their books. From the results of my survey, most people wouldn't dream of it but Newton's answer would be "yes".

In a recent interview with Patricia L. Paddey of Bible Network News, Dr. Stephen Snobelen, assistant professor of the history of science and technology at University of King's College in Halifax, said, "We actually have 30 of [Newton's] personal Bibles at Trinity College, Cambridge that can be examined.... His personal Bible that he used for looking up references is a very small, hand-held Bible. That is a remarkable artefact [sic] to handle physically, because you can actually see the dog-eared pages. You can see the soiling. You can see this physical testimony of a lifetime." Dr. Snobelen is one of only a handful of academics worldwide who now study [Newton's Bibles and other non scientific manuscripts] for insights into his theology. These papers were willed to Cambridge University by the economist John Maynard Keynes in 1946.)

Newton was an intense reader. "While it is possible that some dog-earing was the work of subsequent owners," Snobelen continues, "it is evident from the fact that most instances of it point quite precisely to passages of demonstrable importance to Newton that the vast majority is his own. He used dog-ears not merely to mark pages but to align the page corners with specific passages of interest (hence the fact that pages may have their corners turned down, up, or both)."

According to the London Daily Telegraph, Newton was consumed by apocalyptic research and reluctantly predicted that the world would end in 2060. "Thousands of Newton's papers, which had lain in a trunk in the house of the Earl of Portsmouth for 250 years, were sold by Sotheby's in the late 1930s. John Maynard Keynes ... bought many of the texts on alchemy and theology. But much of the material went to an eccentric collector, Abraham Yahuda, and was stored in the Hebrew National Library. It was among these documents that the date was found."

Sir Isaac Newton was an INTJ introvert. There are eight different types of introverts, according to Keirsey Personality Theory and Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory, both based on the Jungian approach to personality interpretation. Newton was an INTJ Introvert, called the Mastermind. This is a rare one per cent of the population according to estimates by the Keirsey Temperament Theory.

According to Keirsey, "Masterminds approach reality as they would a giant chess board, always seeking strategies that have a high payoff, and always devising contingency plans in case of error or adversity. To the Mastermind, organizational structure and operational procedures are never arbitrary, never set in concrete, but are quite malleable and can be changed, improved, streamlined. In their drive for efficient action, Masterminds are the most open-minded of all the types. No idea is too far-fetched to be entertained-if it is useful." Other famous INTJ introverts are Niels Bohr and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Not all introverts are brilliant scientists and metaphysicians, but there are three things most have in common. Focus/concentration, love of pets and modesty are typical of most introverts.

Newton's ability to concentrate was just amazing ... just like your favorite introvert; however, most of us have more social awareness than the British genius. Here are a couple of anecdotes, the first taken from T. Moore's "Memoirs, Journals, and Correspondence".

"Newton invited a friend to dinner but then forgot the engagement. When the friend arrived, he found the scientist deep in meditation, so he sat down quietly and waited. In due course one dinner was brought up. Newton had forgotten to tell his servant a guest was expected. Newton continued to be abstracted. The friend drew up a chair and, without disturbing the host, consumed the dinner. After he had finished, Newton came out of his reverie, looked with some bewilderment at the empty dishes, and said, 'If it weren't for the proof before my eyes, I could have sworn that I have not yet dined.'"

Not only can your favorite introvert concentrate like this, s/he needs to concentrate like this. If there's one thing designed to stress your introverted pal to the max, it's interruptions. That's why we don't like and I mean h a t e telephones and especially cells.

Here's another amusing example of Newton's ability to concentrate. On his way home from town one day, Newton dismounted and walked his horse by its bridle so it could rest. The anecdoter continues, "As always his mind wandered. Perhaps he was thinking about the four wheel carriage he'd just built or the system of shorthand he'd created or maybe he was just watching the sunlight on the grass and wondering what made the grass green ... miles and hours later he arrived at home not even aware that the horse had long ago slipped out of its bridle and he had walked the whole way back, alone."

Do you know anyone like this? If you try to change them, you'll destroy one of their greatest gifts, the gift to concentrate, and give them nothing in return. Please let introverts be more consciously introverted and don't make them try to be extroverted to have your respect. Liza's father was a brilliant introvert. They bought him umbrellas by the dozen because he left them on the Chicago "L" going to and from work in the rain. He always left them. Always.

Another common characteristic of introverts is their love of pets. Sometimes a pet is the introvert's best companion. N*O S*M*A*L*L T*A*L*K.

Sir Isaac Newton had a dog named Diamond who has become famous right along with him. I guess he was pretty smart. Newton once bragged to his friend Wallis about his little dog Diamond. 'My dog Diamond knows some mathematics. Today he proved two theorems before lunch.'. 'Your dog must be a genius,' said Wallis. 'Oh I wouldn't go that far,' replied Newton. 'The first theorem had an error and the second had a pathological exception.'" I know, you had to be there.

An even better story concerned the night Diamond knocked over the candle on Newton's desk, starting a fire that destroyed records of many years' research (!). Legend has it that Newton, viewing the destruction, said only, "O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the damage thou hast done." (R. Hendrickson's "The Literary Life" and other sources ... this is a very popular tail, I mean tale!)

Last but not least, Newton was a modest man considering his accomplishments and intelligence. Asked one day how he had come to make his remarkable discoveries, he replied, "By always thinking about them."

If you're hiring someone for a job, it would be good to know this characteristic of introverts lest you underestimate their capabilities based on their modest but accurate representation of themselves and hire a showy extrovert with half the talent instead(!) Introverts lack the desire to dress their own windows, a quality you will come to appreciate if you hire one. Instead of window dressing, they will focus, concentrate and work a full day instead.

Look for these qualities when interviewing an introvert: ability to concentrate and modest, accurate communication. As for the pets, they might even have a photo in their wallet.

About the Author

Nancy R. Fenn is the IntrovertZCoach. Her mission in life is to raise consciousness about introversion as a legitimate personality type.

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