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TED Talk Tuesday: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

Being mostly introvert myself, Susan Cain’s TED talk on the power of introverts impacted me deeply. While the world seems to honor extroverts strongly, Susan Cain makes a great case for the more quiet and contemplative of us. As she points out, in a culture where being social and outgoing are prized highly, it can be difficult and even shameful to be an introvert. But as Ms. Cain emphasizes in her presentation, introverts bring talents and abilities to the world that others cannot and should be encouraged and celebrated.

As I learned in this TED talk, one third to one half of all people are introverts. And what defines an introvert is how they, we, respond to stimulation – including social stimulation. Introverts are happier and more creative in quiet situations – even solitude. And, Ms. Cain points out, the key to successful creativity and maximizing talent is the “right stimulation” for each of us.

In our culture, extroverts are praised and most of our cultural design favors extroverts. As our society has gone from agricultural to big business, extroverts are the winners yet introverts score higher on exams (Wharton School of Business) and do better on their own rather than in a “group think” and gregarious situation. So what do we do when “action figures” and “great salesmen” are our standard and our heroes?

The answer is balance: between extroverts and introverts. Solitude matters so give introverts quiet time to create and then allow folks to come back together and share ideas. A café sort of milieu was suggested as a style of communication and togetherness. Teamwork is important yet giving introverts time and quiet space to bring their talents to the forefront is just as important.

Susan Cain believes that we are on the brink of dramatic change when it comes to solitude, quiet and introversion. We need the quiet, creative genius of introverts. And to cultivate this genius she suggests three calls to action:

  1. Stop the madness of constant group work! Allow for more freedom, autonomy and privacy
  2. Go into the wilderness and unplug – in whatever way is possible
  3. Take a look at what’s important and share experiences

In closing, Susan Cain points out that the problems of today need all of us. And for each of us to have a voice, we need to allow more freedom to introverts to increase solution for the problems of our world.

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