During the ¨Managing Yourself¨ class at the university I was introduced to that new journey with these wise words: ¨Success in the knowledge economy comes from those who know themselves –their strengths, their values and how they best perform. We need to learn to manage ourselves. We need to learn to develop ourselves and place ourselves where we can make the best contribution.” (Drucker, P. 1999)
To begin understanding the process, we were explained the importance of knowing our own personality type. This one representing a key element in unlocking our own potential and useful for recognizing how we lead, influence, communicate, collaborate, negotiate business and manage stress.
Thus we remembered that the world is divided into: INTROVERTED people and EXTROVERTED people.
Today I want to talk about a fascinating book, the main theme of which is the defense of introversion. It is written by Susan Cain, a Harvard lawyer, with Hebrew origins, who made a brilliant career on Wall Street only to realize that her true calling is writing.
After reading this book I had the impulse to write an email to Susan Cain to say thank you for giving the world such a precious book. And guess what?! I was so lucky that this author actually answered me through her ambassador! Even though she is so busy these days writing her latest book and developing her new podcast and being also a mother in complicated school times, she gave me a few minutes of her precious time. I can’t be more grateful!
Being an extroverted person, this book gave me the wisdom to understand and respect some of my friends who are not exactly like me but whose company I always look for.
The book ¨Quiet, the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking¨ by Susan Cain explores the famous introversion-extroversion dichotomy, analyzing these “types of temperament” from various perspectives, but always maintaining its objective: to defend the value of silence and introspection in a society that seems to appreciate more the ¨man of action¨.
Susan explains that being an introvert does not mean being shy. Shyness is fear of social intercourse. Not every introvert is shy. In fact, there are quite open and social ones. The difference is that, given the introverts to choose, they will almost always prefer low-stimulation activities as opposed to high-stimulation activities. In simple words: the introverted person spends more time in his head than outside of it, so he/she will always prefer activities that allow him/her to stay “inside”: a simple dinner with friends instead of a crowded party with strangers or reading a book instead of a group activity in order to learn new things.
Some of our transformational leaders in history were introverts, like: Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Park, Gandhi or Charles Darwin.
Susan Cain wants to draw attention to the value of these people in our organizations, considering the fact that we live in a world built by and for extroverts, where apparently the best we can have is a very high capacity to interact and venture into highly stimulating activities (public speaking, for example). To say more, we value the idea of extroversion and socialization so much, that we design work and study spaces with the aim of facilitating social exchange and cooperation, often ignoring how difficult or uncomfortable this can be for introverts.
What does Susan Cain recommend?
1. First, do an “assessment” to identify, as reliably as possible, how many people in our organizations are, in fact, introverts and how many extroverts.
At my university, we were recommended this free personality test.
There are countries that use these personality tests in the large companies, where they are aware that taking care of their employees and knowing them well, represents the best way to take care of their business.
2. Second, maximize the talent of extroverts and introverts at the same time and in the same educational and professional environment, building environments that benefit work for both types, because a balance between these two categories guarantees a better world today, when the economy is so complex.
I invite you to read the book. You will find there a detailed explanation of this fascinating subject, superbly documented and written in a kind and pleasant way. During the journey in this book Susan Cain explores interesting topics such as leadership, relationships and education (you have a son/daughter who you think is shy and maybe you believe there is a problem? run now to read this book).
In fact, I would also like to mention her book “Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts” which is written for kids and teens and the parents and teachers who love them.
With valuable in-depth research from neuroscience and psychology, Susan Cain will change your view of the best way to develop leaders, manage teams and make smart hiring decisions in your company. ¨Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk¨ (Susan Cain)
TED Talks – Susan Cain
Official website: Quiet Revolution – Susan Cain
Spanish version of the book – El poder de los introvertidos en un mundo incapaz de callarse de Susan Cain