Does modern society overvalue extroversion? And how might this affect our ability to be creative when working with others?
Here’s a little three-minute, playfully-animated video from RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), in which Susan Cain discusses introverts and extroverts.
In a group, Cain says, “the opinions of the loudest person or most charismatic person or the most assertive person — those are the opinions that the group the group tends to follow.” And yet there’s “no correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
We’ve all seen this happen. And I agree with Cain that our society is overly extroverted. But what interests me about the video (again, other than the drawings that take shape before our eyes) is her view of introversion and extroversion as sort of the yin and yang of effective organizations. She cites the origins of Apple as an example — Steve Jobs’s marketing paired with Steve Wozniak’s more solitary, contemplative role in the development of the early Apple computers.
I think what Cain is emphasizing here is the power of contemplation, which tends to get lost in our marketing-oriented, sales-driven and image-driven society. Pure extroverts and pure introverts are rare. I think most of us combine traits of both, and these traits express themselves depending on the situation.
But one of the challenges of our increasingly interconnected culture (I’m thinking smart phones and social media here) is that we have be more deliberate about cultivating our introversion, and about creating contemplative opportunities for ourselves.
More about this next time. Until then, let me just express my approval of having illustrators animate lecture videos. I’ve seen this done several times recently, and I think it can be very effective… as we’ll see in the next post.