As a fairly die hard introvert, I was really excited to read Susan Cain’s book. I had heard about it years ago and finally decided to jump in since I felt like in the new fast paced and very loud world of L.A. I was needing to step up my game. Though the book took a while for me to get into, I really liked the last few chapters.
There are two big goals of the book from what I can tell. The first is to let introverts know that it is all going to be ok. The world clearly holds extroversion up as the ideal, but you don’t have to accept that. One interesting study she referenced is from BYU where they found that CEOs who are considered charismatic are often paid more, but they do not perform any better. I often hear Bill Gates talked about as a great CEO who is certainly not the life of the party.
Cain counters the public ideal with studies showing that solitary practice is the greatest predictor of success and that working alone produces more creativity that things like brainstorming.
In the end, I had two big take aways. First one they way she showed some of the clear differences between introverts and extroverts. Introverts inspect while extroverts respond. The most interesting one I found was how introverts tend to like people they meet in a friendly context while like people they are competing with. It is important to understand the different way people respond if you want to have a good relationship with them.
The idea which has stuck with me the most is the importance of having restorative niches. As an introvert, I need to plan out my days and weeks to give myself time to recharge away from others after periods of intense interaction. If I have a few weekends of large get togethers, I need to make sure I have an alone weekend. Or if I am leading a number of big meetings at work, I should give myself some personal deep work time right afterwards.