Are you an introvert? Or do you know anyone who is an introvert, like your spouse, bf/gf, sibling, friend, colleague or manager? I can surely bet that you will say yes for one of the above question, because nearly one third people around you are introvert or in some part of the world it might even go up to nearly half the population. And if the answer is yes then this book is for you.
Quiet is a non-fiction book written by Susan Cain in which she has given a new perspective to introversion. This book has really helped me in understanding myself and why I do behave how I behave. It also helped me to understand people around me. The ideas & studies discussed in this book are quite though provoking. The book focuses on how the focus of world is shifting form building a ‘culture of character’ to ‘culture of personality’. People are now focused more of improving their soft skills like public speaking, giving good presentation, ability of influence and one who can’t do it is considered lacking. Some parents even treat shyness as a pathological problem.
The default inclination of the world is to identify the person who speaks loudly and with assertiveness as a natural leader. But does it mean that introverts can’t be good leaders? The book explores via various studies about how introverted people can use their personality as a strength in defining their own their own unique way of leadership, since they are more open to ideas, and are a good listener. The book also points the fault in our education system which is currently designed to favor the extroverts and promote them only. And if you are an introvert then you are supposed to act as a pseudo-extrovert. And this bias in education system is influenced by the bias in our corporate world.
The book also explores how wrong the current ideas of collaboration and groupthink which is considered the breeding ground of creativity are. This is a classic example of one solution does not fit all. Extroverts and introverts might find the inspiration and creativity in different ways. Introverts mostly find themselves over-simulated in larger groups and hence it effects their creativity.
The book also deep dives to find out whether the introverted behavior is genetic or is a product of our culture, environment and upbringing. But there are also interesting studies which shows that even though part of our personality is driven by things that are out of our control, we can still exercise free will to define ourselves the way we want to be. We can take control of our life by repeated training of our prefrontal cortex rather than being driven by genes and situations. One has to accept that it might be difficult but one has to find his/her core personal project and then directing energy there won’t be that difficult. The author also gives insight on how she found her core personal project by following a 3 step process:
- Think back what you loved to do when you are a child
- Pay attention to the work you gravitate to
- Pay attention to what you envy. You mostly envy those who have what you desire
Moreover one has to accept oneself the way you are and identify your natural powers of persistence, concentration, insight and sensitivity to do work you love and work that matters.
There are lots of other gems of ideas & studies in this book, all of which can’t be covered in a single blog post. So, I will strongly recommend to pick this book.
My Ratings: 5 star