Deeply insightful and liberating book.
We technically live in a world where being extroverted is the “ideal.” That being fun and interesting is what you need to do to get friends. That if you are not sociable, then there is something wrong with you.
These the kinds of things people around us chid about. However, the book talks how the ideals are simply not always true.
One thing I found very intriguing is how collaboration can destroy creativity. The book talks about how Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple computers, invented the first commercially available personal computer singlehandedly in his ownsolitude locked up in this office. She also talked about Charles Darwin who created the scientific breakthrough alone.
The book continues to talk about how the more people there are in a brainstorming session, the less ideas there would be; unless the brainstorming session is online. Cain argues that this is mostly because people are held back by the fear of judgement. Online discussions/conversations would theoretically reduce the setbacks.
Cain also mentioned how Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha (and my role model, lol), succeeds in the stock market when most people fail. In general, extroverted people act based on results; they get motivated and make impulsive decisions in order to get a reward. However, introverted people are much more calculated. They do things because of quiet perseverance and love for the things they do. They do not think of results that much. In fact, a lot of studies show that introverted people are less likely to give up on tasks. Just look at Abraham Lincoln! Introverts are also more likely to evaluate situations before jumping into conclusions and make impulsive decisions.
Cain also made a quick connection to Jim Collins book, Good to Great, on the concept of Level 5 Leadership. Cain echoes that leaders of great companies are surprisingly shy, reserved, humble, and not egocentric.
The most interesting part I found in the book was when to be more extroverted than you really are. Let’s face it, at times in this world, we need to conform to society. This includes creating a sense that you are extroverted even though all you want is to snuggle up in bed with a good book. Sometimes you just need to give that great speech or go to this networking event to grow your small business. However, Cain points out that if introverts need to act and create pseudo-extroversion, it is important that it is for things that they value. For example, there is no need to act like a party animal because then they would not be true to themselves. However, giving a speech for women’s rights, for example, is when an introvert and be extroverted for a day. This concept of altering who you are in different situations is called “self-monitoring.” Self-monitoring also includes understanding other people’s points of views when it comes to debatable issues. This, however, is not saying that self-monitoring people don’t have strong principles/beliefs, but it is saying that they are modest and open to other people’s opinions or way of life.
There are a number of people who come across as extroverted but are really introverted. And I am surprised that Guy Kawasaki was one of them.
After the series of “acting” like an extrovert, it is important to keep sane by having restorative niches in which you spend some time being true to who you are. By spending the weekend reading a book, for example.
In the end, the message is, stay true to yourself. Being an introvert is not wrong. We didn’t choose to be introverts, so it’s only our job to make the most of it.