I’ve just finished reading a book by Susan Cain called ’Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ . It is described on Amazon as ‘passionately argued, superbly researched and filled with real stories, Quiet will permanently change how we see introverts and how you see yourself’. The author not only shows us how the quiet introvert has been suppressed in society but how their way of working could lead to powerful breakthroughs in many different fields and the ultimate conclusion is that we should embrace the way introverts are and allow them to move in ways that are right for them and maybe the less introverted could learn from some of their methods in life.
In an early chapter Cain brilliantly shows how society shifted in the early twentieth century and changed what it valued from it’s people. She claims that in the 1800’s people were judged by their personal character and their moral standing in the world, you wanted to be a person who was respected by your peers and community and you developed yourself by trying to move closer to your moral compass and discover higher levels of yourself by overcoming challenges which enhanced your character. When the early twentieth century came along we experienced massive changes in the way we lived our lives and with the invention of mass media such as movies and radio there was a definite shift in what society valued. Personal character and moral standing become less important and were overtaken by the desire to have an extroverted personality. Suddenly the person who was the risk-taking talker, who was action oriented, and who may have spoken the loudest was made an example of what we should model ourselves on in our society.
While this shift towards the importance of the extroverted personality started in around the 1920’s it has taken over more of the public’s consciousness as time has passed. We expect our sports stars, politicians, community leaders and other important figures to exude this extroverted personality, a trait that often doesn’t have anything to do with their job they are trying to do. An All Black needs to be the best at tackling, running, passing, and all the playing skills needed to do their job well but it also seems that now they also need to have an amazing personality and be sharp in front of the camera when they have their 30 second TV interview after a game.
As I think about his concept I can’t help but wonder how society would be different if there hadn’t been this disproportionate shift towards the extroverted personality. What if we had stayed on the path that promoted us moving towards our moral compass and developing our character and allowed the different personality types to feel free to be what they are? How would things be different in the ways we do things and what we put our energy into when it comes to developing ourselves? How would our role models be different? What would we promote to our kids as important life traits?
As I’m writing this I’m wondering what my real point is for this piece, I suppose it’s to say that you should embrace the way you are, that you should have trust in your way in the world and when you want to develop yourself there may be areas that take you off your natural path but ultimately you are better off obtaining a deeper understanding of how you tick. This goes for all different types of personalities, to me it seems that one of my jobs in life is to better understand how I work and to then try to move down a path that evolves my understanding of this. It’s not about working on myself in ways that pull me away from where I naturally sit.
Maybe we need to work on admiring others for their ability to be what they are, not to put them in a box that says they need to be a certain way to be successful but instead be inspired because they are comfortable with their way in the world. This could allow the many different personalities out there to do their best work because they sit in their best place and are being true to who they really are.
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