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In chapter 8 Susan Cain takes on the extrovert ideal from a cultural perspective. She gives examples of East Asians and how they value silence and studying. She says that the extroverted ideal in the US is contrasted to the silence is golden in Asia. But those Asians sometimes struggle in America to become more extroverted in order to fit in.
In the US Asians often have to work on the extroversion part (different than the culture of their parents) in order to fit into the Extrovert ideal here in the US. But she argues that there are introverts who have been great leaders - those who have a conviction that they lead from such as Gandhi, Buddha and Mother Teresa. They are focused on something that they believe in and allowed them to embrace the power of quiet.
In chapter 9 the author continues by saying that people can often act outside of their core personality (e.g. - introvert or extrovert) especially when it is in service of something that they love (e.g. - an introvert can be extroverted for work they love like being a teacher). She says while this can be done, if done excessively it can be disastrous. If you do in service of something you love it is great, but you also need to then build in as many “restorative niches” as you can in order to have a time to be your true self. She calls it a “Free Trait Agreement.” This is an opportunity to go outside of your comfort zone for X amount of time/situations and then allow yourself to come back to your comfort zone.
As an entrepreneur and a trainer/consultant and an introvert I feel like I often act outside of my core personality by needing to network and stand in front of classrooms all day, but I do it service of a higher purpose of helping others to achieve their potential and having freedom/flexibility in my life to do what I love. It can be exhausting, but I do build in restorative one-on-one dinners with friends and nights in where I can just write and read and rejuvenate my spirit. If you act outside of your core personality what do you do to restore yourself? What Free Trait Agreements are you making?
Monica Thakrar has over 14 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.