Quiet Summary - Unearned Wisdom
Many introverts try to deny their true nature. They won’t be noticed as introverts in their workspaces, schools, or neighborhoods. They will lie to themselves about who they are — until a major life event hits them. They get fired from a job they hated or inherit money that allows them to have enough freedom to what they wanted with their time. This leads them to revert back to their true natures, to accept who they always were.
Society projects a certain ideal and pressures people to aim for it. The ideal person is gregarious and comfortable around people. They are an alpha, extroverted, and overconfident. They work well with others and are excellent at socializing. Individuality isn’t what’s important. It’s being a specific kind of individual, one who fits it comfortably in social settings. It’s not that this guilt is only self-induced, it’s also induced by critical stares of those around them. The people who get accused of spending too much time in their heads have an unsettling name to many, “thinkers”.
Extroverts rush through things and make snap decisions. They enjoy multitasking, taking risks, and chasing after socially coveted rewards such as fame, money, and status. They make parties fun. They are assertive and love hanging out with people every chance they get. They like to think out loud, are quick on their feet. For them, conflict is better than being alone. Talking — even if recklessly — is better than listening. Extroverts have more sex, but cheat and divorce more often than introverts. Extroverts exercise more but are more reckless and get into more accidents. They have more friends but commit more crimes. They are overconfident and tend to be riskier. Extroverts act based on what is rather than what could be.
Introverts take their time and think things through. They don’t like multitasking but have an incredible capacity to concentrate. Socially coveted rewards like fame, money, and status don’t mean very much to the introvert. They may be socially skilled, and can have fun at parties, and shine in meetings, but eventually will find themselves yearning for moments of solitude. They are good listeners and prefer to write than speak. They hate conflict, despise small talk, but are infatuated with deep discussions. . Introverts are passive when their chances of success are low and aggressive when their chances of success are high. Introverts think about what could be rather than act based on what is.
“The one [extroversion] consists in a high rate of fertility, with low powers of defense and short duration of life for the single individual; the other [introversion] consists in equipping the individual with numerous means of self-preservation plus a low fertility rate.” Jung
America moved from being a culture of character to a culture of personality. Old self-help books used to be about building your Character — emphasis was on preserving your honor and integrity and taking pride in your work. New self-help books are about building your Personality — emphasis is on being fascinating to other people, attractive, forceful, and energetic.
I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork … for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding. — Albert Einstein
There is a cultural myth that goes around too often. It’s called groupthink. The idea is, many brains are more powerful than a single brain. Therefore, all brains would benefit from uniting. This can’t be further from the truth. Isolation allows people to focus and concentrate. The majority of great inventors didn’t work with others but created some distance to allow themselves the necessary time and space to think independently. The problem with working in groups — as has been demonstrated in multiple experiments — is that people tend to get trapped in an “ideological loop” instead of innovating.
If you’re with a group of people, think of how many things are going on in the background. For one thing, you’re self-conscious, you don’t want others to judge you. You’re trying to project a certain kind of image — and that requires effort. Then, you’re forced to listen to other people speak and wait your turn. That disrupts your flow of thoughts. Instead of being able to follow your ideas where they lead you — you’re forced to maintain a certain kind of dance with the rest of the group.
A lot of university students like to study in groups. What often happens is students delegate most of the work to the smartest, most knowledgeable person. Because it’s not equal. The people in the group don’t share the exact same knowledge and intelligence. So whenever there’s a “star”, that person naturally assumes the leadership position. And the problem with that, is that the other students get lazy, they don’t apply themselves to the same degree because they know they don’t have to. Passing the buck, so to speak. Working in groups inevitably follows that same pattern. A leader emerges, and then it’s politics till the end.
Contrast that with solitary work, where the individual has no one to fool but himself.
When you’re alone, you have no reasons to control your behavior. You aren’t required to maintain group harmony, or speak agreeably, or feign interest, or preserve unanimity. And so, the amount of brain power working in groups takes up shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you retreat to your desk, surrounded by only familiar things, and with nothing to distract you, a different level of energy and focus becomes available to you.
The point here isn’t to isolate people. It’s to understand how proper collaboration should happen. Introverts shouldn’t be spending most of their time mingling with extroverts. It does no one any good. Instead, they should spend the bulk of their time focused on their craft — while intermittently interrupting themselves to collaborate with extroverts.
The best thing an introvert can do is find the sweet spot of stimulation that will keep them engaged. When you read the same sentence multiple times, you’re under stimulated. When you’re at a loud party, you’re overstimulated. Introverts love talking about things that interest them but hate feigning interest in other topics that don’t matter. This is a double-edged sword, of course. The downside is that the introvert is not flexible. The upside is that they will be willing to make drastic career changes to pursue whatever it is they find fascinating — doing something more engaging and living a more meaningful life.
“A shy man no doubt dreads the notice of strangers but can hardly be said to be afraid of them. He may be as bold as a hero in battle, and yet have no self-confidence about trifles in the presence of strangers.” — Charles Darwin
“Mark this well, ye proud men of action!” declared his countryman Heinrich Heine. “Ye are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought.” — Schopenhauer
Find flow in the work you do by using your gifts. You have the persistence and patience to solve complex problems. You can use your memory of the past and your sense of objectivity to avoid the mistakes people keep making. Trying to appear like a gregarious, outgoing extrovert will keep you very busy — it will distract you from recognizing your own talents. If you try to be something you’re not, you’re almost guaranteed to lose. Instead, find something you deeply care about, and you’ll unlock an infinite amount of energy. Don’t let society pressure you to move faster than you’re comfortable with. Your lack of attachment to material things is freeing and empowering and will give you the luxury of taking your time. But ultimately, it’s up to you to make the most out of your independence.
- Durability (I Will Read This Again): 10/10
- Originality (This Taught Me Something New): 10/10
- Experience (This Was Enjoyable to Read): 9/10
- Efficiency (This Was Concise): 8/10
- Shareability (I Will Recommend This Book to My Friends): 9/10
The wind howls, but the mountain remains still. Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. — Lao Tzi
I felt engaged from start to finish. Susan Cain is imaginative, smart, and informative. This book was a pleasant surprise, and will be a treasure to every introvert who reads it.
Originally published at https://unearnedwisdom.com.