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Teresa Francis at TEDxYouth@Winchester
Published on Jan 24, 2013
Do we all have to be extroverts to be successful? Does the best speaker always have the best ideas? Teresa invites us to imagine a world without the extrovert bias.
This is a followup to my earlier post: The Power of Introversion, which includes another Ted video by author Susan Cain. To read about my own experience of being a strong introvert in an extroverted family and culture see that post.
In this video Teresa Francis, a young woman, focuses on the “extrovert bias” mentioned by Susan Cain. In her discussion she points out that in our extroverted culture “Attention truly has become the world’s new limited resource”. She also makes the very interesting observation that “We worship people who make millions doing nothing and don’t even know the names of people who make a real difference”. In conclusion she says that “I am not calling for an introvert bias. I’m calling for balance, a finer appreciation for the symbiotic relationship that is required from the introvert and the extrovert.” Her presentation is excellent. I highly recommend it to both introverts and extraverts, adults and youth alike. It is inspiring to me to see this kind of insight and this kind of quality presentation from our youth.
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Susan Cain is a former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant — and a self-described introvert. At least one-third of the people we know are introverts, notes Cain in her new book, Quiet. Although our culture undervalues them dramatically, introverts have made some of the great contributions to society – from Chopin’s nocturnes to the invention of the personal computer to Gandhi’s transformative leadership. Cain argues that we design our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions for extroverts, and that this bias creates a waste of talent, energy, and happiness. Based on intensive research in psychology and neurobiology and on prolific interviews, she also explains why introverts are capable of great love and great achievement, not in spite of their temperaments — but because of them.
Sometimes something appears in your life at just the right time to answer some burning question or need—it might be a book, a person, an event–and it is hard not to believe it was somehow put there by that Mysterious Other we call God just for you. This video is just such a serendipidous appearance. My daughter sent me a link to this “TED Talk” (from http://www.ted.com) with a note that said, “Thought you might enjoy this.” Enjoy was not the right word. In her video “The Power of Introversion”, Susan Cain spoke to a burning question at the very heart of who I am as a person.
I have known for a long time that I was an introvert. At the same time I have always seen myself as an outisder, never quite a part of the various groups I was in. Even in family gatherings I struggle to participate in the clearly extroverted family activities. I have compensated by arranging to take individual friends and family members out to eat so I could have “quality time” with them. At the same time I have struggled with anger most of my adult life. It was never quite clear what that anger was all about. I could point to individual things I was angry about at any given time, but I never quite understood why I often had such angry responses to often seemingly minor events.
Through sustained spiritual practice much of the anger has subsided. At the same time that spiritual practice led me to discover profound things about who I am and how I am called to live my life. As I have worked to incarnate those discoveries into my active life it has brought profound changes in my life and my relationships. Yet, it has also brought much struggle. In some ways it seems that the very things I feel called to created more struggle as I have tried to impliment them in my life.
All of this has made that sense of being an outsider even stronger. Yes, my practice has given me the ability to see these struggles as what I have called “opportunities to practice” and thus to navigate them in more constructive ways, yet that sense of being an outsider seems even stronger. Now it seems that the real me, the person I have discovered in the deepest part of myself is still an outsider, maybe even more of one, and definitely a more personal one.
It has always seemed to me that this introverted part of me was something that was wrong with me, something that needed to be fixed. But as I discovered my own sacred inner being I realized that much of it was a part of who I really am and who I felt called to be by that Mysterious Other I call God. As I have struggled to actually become that person in the way I am present in my life I have realized that I am still an outsider, even when the anger subsides.
I never could quite put all of that together. Then comes Susan Cain and “The Power of Introversion”. Somehow it all made sense. I really am an introvert trying to live in an extroverted world where introversion is seen as a problem that needs to be fixed, and where the introvert is marginalized, and really does almost inevitably, become an outsider. As I watched this video I had an emotional reaction that I seldom have. I realized in a powerful way that all of the anger I have struggled with all these years had its roots right here. I was angry because I had never been able to really be who I am. All of my struggles in trying to incarnate the discoveries from my spiritual practice had its roots right here. Most important of all Cain confirms that being an introvert is not a bad thing. It is not a disease. It is not something that needs to be fixed. It really is an integral part of who I am, and it really is ok to be me. The culture really does fail to understand and accept introverts. Cain’s message to me personally was a message of confirmation and encouragement.
I highly recommend this video to all of you introverts, Maybe even more, I recommend it to all of you extroverts who struggle with how to relate to your more introverted friends and family. Maybe Caiin’s message will give you the understanding and encouragement to build on those relationships and find ways to accept the introverts among us and—well, I’ll just let Susan Cain finish that thought.
After watching this video a couple of times I bought Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. The book takes what Cain says in the video to a whole deeper level. It provides the research that supports what she says in the video, and it goes in much greater depth on each point. If you are touched by the video the book is a must read. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert it will give you much greater understanding of the culture. If you are a leader of any kind it will make you a better one. If you are a teacher or a parent it will give you a better understanding of the children you are shaping.
Please “Join the conversation”. Share your reactions and thoughts with us. Whether you are an introvert, an ambivert, or an extrovert, We would love the hear from you. Share your journey with us.
To purchase Susan Cain’s book click on one of the links below.