“Quiet” by Susan Cain: Part Two

Wanted to break this book into two posts (here is Part One of “Quiet”) to give anyone a little more time to process some of the concepts discussed. While typing these notes I’ve noticed that there are many links to other books I’ve posted. Personally, I’m starting to see and feel the impact of the connections between these works.

  1. The way forward is not to stop collaborating face-to-face, but to refine the way we do it. For one thing, we should actively seek out symbiotic introvert-extrovert relationships, in which leadership and other tasks are divided according to people’s natural strengths and temperaments. The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, and so are many leadership structures.
  2. High-reactive children pay “alert attention” to people and things. They literally use more eye movements than others to compare choices before making a decision. It’s as if they process more deeply– sometimes consciously, sometimes not– the information they take in about the world.
  3. People who are aware of their sweet spots have the power to leave jobs that exhaust them and start new and satisfying businesses.
  4. Treat every speech as a creative project. Experience that delving-deep sensation. Speak on topics that matter more deeply. You will feel much more centered when you truly care about the subject. (See my notes on a recent funeral speech)
  5. When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chit chat as much as anyone else.
  6. Train yourself to spend energy on what’s truly meaningful to you instead of activities that look like they’ll deliver a quick buzz of money, or status, or excitement. Teach yourself to pause and reflect when warning signs appear that things aren’t working out as you’d hoped. Learn from your mistakes. (See “Paddle Your Own Canoe“)
  7. In a state of ‘flow’ you’re neither bored nor anxious, and you don’t question your own adequacy. Hours pass without your noticing. The key to flow is to pursue an activity for its own sake, not for the rewards it brings. Although flow does not depend on being an introvert or an extrovert, many of the flow experiences are solitary pursuits that have nothing to do with reward seeking. (See “The Organized Mind” notes on flow)
  8. If you’re an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and that clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. (See “The Power of Habit“)
  9. It is clearly better to be scared than sorry.
  10. “Satyagrapha”: Gandhi’s passivity was not weakness at all. It meant focusing on an ultimate goal and refusing to divert energy to unnecessary skirmishes along the way.
    1. Gandhi said, “Experience has taught me that silence is part of the votary truth spiritual discipline. We find so many people impatient to talk. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to this world. It is so much a waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.”
  11. Our lives are dramatically enhanced when we’re involved in core personal projects that we consider meaningful, manageable, and not unduly stressful, and that are supported by others.
  12. It often pays to be quiet and gracious, to listen more than talk, and to have an instinct for harmony rather than conflict. With this style, you can take aggressive positions without influencing your counterpart’s ego. And by listening, you can truly learn what’s motivating the person you’re negotiating with and come up with creative solutions that satisfy both parties.
  13. Self-Negation: She was not telling herself “I’m doing this to advance work that I care about deeply, and when the work is done I’ll settle back into my true self. Instead her interior monologue was– The route to success is to be the sort of person I am not.”
  14. Three Key Steps to Identifying your Own Core Personal Projects:
    1. Think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. How did you answer the question of what you wanted to be when you grew up? (See #12 in “Paddle Your Own Canoe” and John Lennon’s thoughts as a child)
    2. Pay attention to the work you gravitate to.
    3. Pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.
  15. Scores of studies have shown that venting doesn’t soothe anger, it fuels it.
  16. There’s a truism that “we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionately.” I believe that’s what makes someone really good at selling or consulting– the number one thing is they’ve got to really listen well.
  17. Expose your children gradually to new situations and people– taking care to respect his limits, even when they seem extreme. This produces more confident kids than either overprotection or pushing too hard. Let him know that his feelings are normal and natural, but also that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
  18. They focused less on developing his confidence than on making sure that he found ways to be productive. It didn’t matter what he was interested in, so long as he pursued it and enjoyed himself.
  19. Those who live the most fully realized lives– giving back to their families, societies, and ultimately themselves– tend to find meaning in their obstacles. Where we stumble is where our treasures lie.
  20. The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others a lamp lit desk. Use your natural powers of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity, to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, and think deeply.
  21. Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute to it. If this requires public speaking or social networking, or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyways. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done.
  22. If it’s creativity you’re after, ask your employees to solve problems alone before sharing their ideas. If you want the wisdom of the crowd, gather it electronically, or in writing, and make sure people can’t see each other’s ideas until everyone’s had a chance to contribute. Face-to-face contact is important because it builds trust, but group dynamics contain unavoidable impediments to creative thinking.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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