Notes from Susan Cain’s talk, “The power of introverts,” at TED2012:

  • Introverts have gotten the message that a quiet style of being is not right
  • Many introverts, like Susan Cain, adopt self-negating lifestyle choices to pass as extroverts
  • But it’s everyone’s loss
  • We need introverts for creativity and leadership
  • Introversion is about feeling most alive and capable in quiet environments
  • It’s about stimulation, not shyness (a fear of social judgment)
  • Modern classrooms and workplaces promote “groupthink” as the source for creativity and productivity, instead of solitude, despite research
  • Introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts (Adam Grant research) because they let proactive employees run with their ideas
  • Introversion/extroversion is a spectrum (and those in the middle are ambiverts?)
  • Groups need a balance
  • Solitude is a crucial ingredient to creativity and revelation
  • Groups, on the other hand, tend to follow dominant or charismatic people, though there’s no correlation between being the best speaker and having the best ideas
  • Western societies used to value people for character, a strong inner life and rectitude, but now it’s about personality and proving oneself
  • Of course social skills are important, but introverts need to be given freedom to come up with solutions to today’s problems
  • When Susan Cain’s grandfather died — he was a rabbi who read, taught and loved his people quietly for 62 years — the streets were blocked with people who came to mourn him
  • We are on the brink of changing our attitudes to introversion, quiet and solitude, so,
    1. Stop the madness for constant group work
    2. Go to the wilderness and have your own revelations (get inside your own head a little more often)
    3. Take a good look at what’s inside your “suitcase” and why, and open it up for other people to see