Within the walls of SEER’s office we have books, a LOT of books. We believe that not all the best education comes in the form of blogs and conferences. It comes from reading all kinds of texts on various topics. So I figured I’d start a series of books that I have read and what my take was, hope this gets my team mates to do the same (hint, you know who you are, you who reads like 2 books a week and thought they might not be fitting for the SEER blog, go for it!). So the first one I recently completed was Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. by Susan Cain.
None of us just has tons of free time, so first I’ll say why I picked this book, what I hoped to get out of it, and what I learned from it. That will let me tear through about 30 long overdue book reports.
I picked the book because I believe that understanding people’s differences helps me better connect with folks who are not like me, who have different world views, (report on Lean In is coming). That just helps you break through better and learn to communicate better with a wider swath of people.
I hoped to learn how to understand people better, my clients, my team, my family and friends. Knowing that I was surrounded by extremely smart people at SEER, I often wondered “Why doesn’t so-and-so present at conferences”, I’d go to them letting them know I’d help them if they needed it. I never understood why they didn’t want to share their smarts with the industry and the world. But I didn’t take the time to respect that speaking might not be how they get their energy / re-charge.
The book starts off with an introverted activist, Rosa Parks, which I thought was a great idea as we all think of her as a defiant person, who stood up against injustice, when in actuality she was an introvert, not seeking the spotlight, she was NOT defiant, she just was a tired woman, who didn’t feel like moving. It was interesting to learn that this was not he first time she refused to give up her seat, and that 12 years earlier she had begun not giving up her seat at times, but that is for another day.
Overall I found the book to be good, it challenges the beliefs that in order to be successful, that “success” comes to those who are charismatic, gregarious, like Tony Robbins – or the competitive students of Harvard Business School. There was a great reminder in the book for me to go back and re-read Good to Great, as the book goes deeply into non-charismatic leaders and how they outperformed their more gregarious counterparts, little fuzzy on the details, that is why I need to re-read it.
This book challenged me to ask myself, why have we so easily fall in love with extroverts? I as someone in the position of hiring, need to sharpen my saw on how to put introverts on the same level playing field as extroverts, to do that I had to understand introverts at a very deep level and that is exactly what this book did for me. I needed to change my world view, while I (as someone who went to college to be a high school teacher) enjoy sharing knowledge, why should I expect everyone to get their energy that way too?
All in all I would recommend this book to anyone who works in teams, might be good for an audiobook, as it is not a highlighter & notes type of book for the most part. This book has changed a major part of my vocabulary, you’ll likely notice that I now talk about “energy”, as in I am looking for a deeper understanding of how people get their energy, it will tell you a lot about someone, that will also help you better understand these folks and help them reach their fullest potential.
Time after time the book illustrated people we respect as smart, driven, people (Steve Wozniak, Gandhi, Rosa Parks), and shows how they were more introverted than we think. I don’t want to miss out on the next Wozniak, Parks, or Dr. Seuss because I somehow fell in love with vanity metrics, I think this book helped me realize that.
For more on Susan Cain – check out her video from TED: