I’m reading a new book this weekend called “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and it is really speaking to me. Despite an epically busy week I am finding myself reading it at every free moment I can muster (bathroom breaks, red lights etc.). I am, according to the test in the book, an extreme introvert (I knew that) and the book is a revelation for we who don’t mind being alone, who would rather read than watch TV, who would rather write than talk. There’s something about our world that tells introverts we need to “come out of our shells.”
In fact, there is nothing wrong with being quiet. We CAN come out of our shells and be pretty convincing that we belong out there too, but it is exhausting. While introverts like to be alone, we like to cooperate too. While we dislike conflict, we are willing to think deeply about issues that lead to conflict. Susan Cain, the author, has published this Manifesto for those of us who are little more inwardly directed:
1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.
2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.
3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
4. Texting is popular because in an overly extroverted society, everyone craves asynchronyous, non-F2F communication.
5. We teach kids in group classrooms not because this is the best way to learn but because it’s cost-efficient, and what else would we do with the children while all the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there’s nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the model.
6. The next generation of quiet kids can and should be raised to know their own strength.
7. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There’s always time to be quiet later.
8. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
9. Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.
10. Rule of thumb for networking events: one genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
11. It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
12. “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
13. The universal longing for heaven is not about immortality so much as the wish for a world in which everyone is always kind.
14. If the task of the first half of life is to put yourself out there, the task of the second half is to make sense of where you’ve been.
15. Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.
16. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi
When I finish the book, I’ll write a more complete review, in the meantime, why don’t you check it out?