BOOK REVIEW: QUIET BY SUSAN CAIN

“From a culture of character to a culture of personalities.”

That’s the one line from this book that keeps whirling in my head.

Self-help books, motivational blogs, coaches and guru actively encourage you to aspire to that ‘personality’ ideal, and profess to help you achieve it.

Not this book. It digs deeper into the people we are, what moulds us, what makes us and what makes us tick.

As Susan Cain writes, there is the ‘extrovert’ ideal that all of us are forced to embrace. What’s so wrong about not being that? Of being more introverted, more reflective, less loud and forceful?

In the world we live in now, to be an introvert is seen as a disability that has to be righted. Reflection, deep thought, analysis need to be sacrificed in the altar of presentations and larger-than-life personalities.

Wait… you don’t have to. The book not only explores the power of introversion, but also brings those personalities (characters) who have achieved global success without the chest thumping.

When Nat High first spoke of the book, I asked to borrow it. He was generous enough to gift me a copy. Thank you.

The key take back from the book, for me, was that I could stop being apologetic about what didn’t come naturally to me. Yes, we have no choice but to create an extrovert persona for crucial public interactions. But for the large part of how we choose to function, it’s best to do so with our innate strengths, instead of trying to work on a weakness upon which we attempt launch our lives.
It was at an MBTI (am an ENTP/J) workshop some years ago that I realised how close to the introvert mark I am. Just a couples of points across. Ambivert, that’s me. I hate labels, but this sounds cool.

Ever since my school days, people automatically assumed I am an extrovert, and so I accepted that label. So all that social anxiety that I suffer before going into a non-work socialising gig with strangers I put it down to low self-confidence. As I grew older I realised that it wasn’t low self-confidence, but a reluctance to spend hours with people who were not ‘mine’.

In time, I became more mindful of those who look ‘painfully’ shy. They probably just fall into the extreme of the introvert scale. And then I started enjoying their company so much more, I would seek them out (and they me). That joy of communication one-on-one, with someone who loves to listen as much as they love to be heard, is unmatched. Do try us. And do read the book.

If you are on the introvert scale, it will give you comfort. If you don’t, it will help you understand us better.

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