A while ago I got the writing bug and had all sorts of grand plans for reinventing this blog. One of them was to write more about the books I read. The writing bug has since been funneled into my work, but I’m still reading – and I still like the idea.
Late last week, I finished the book Quiet Strength by Susan Cain, a self-identified introvert who began her career as a lawyer and has since switched to leadership consulting. The book’s subtitled “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking,” a fitting summary of the book’s contents.
I appreciated Cain’s recognition of how introversion’s unique characteristics are intrinsically worth exercising – such as introverted people’s tendency to resist getting caught up in positive emotion and hesitancy to go forward with a project without having gathered and processed all the relevant information. One chapter, “Why did Wall Street crash and Warren Buffet prosper?,” goes into that aspect in detail. Overall the book’s written with businesspeople in mind – ones who wear suits and ties, endure meetings, attend conferences, make presentations, all that jazz. I’m not one of them, but there’s still need for wise leadership where I work and go to church and volunteer. I figure I can glean from this kind of book some insights to apply in non- or semi-business situations.
Another thing I liked about the book was that she didn’t go dismissing the real benefits of extraversion while expounding on the benefits of introversion. The balance was great – and is often lacking in popular literature (think books and websites), which always bugged me. I’m introverted (I’m pretty certain!) but I still think extraverted people are awesome and have strengths of their own. She talked about the ways extraverted people can and sometimes should imitate introverted people more, but she also has a chapter on helping introverts like me determine when and to what extent we should consider acting more extraverted. (FWIW, it basically boils down to: When it’s in pursuit of a deeply valued end and it doesn’t tax you too much, make you hate the thing toward which you’re working.)
All in all, a book I’d recommend, but not one I’m going to buy, I suppose. Then again, there are very few books I do buy. (And most of them are by C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, A.W. Tozer or G.K. Chesterton. I seem to have an inexplicable affection for initials.)