The only time I ever enjoyed working in a group was when I enrolled in physics during my junior year in high school. After years of suffering through the dreaded phrase “now divide into groups,” I had finally figured out the system. I approached a small gathering of jocks (all of them seniors) and told them I would guarantee them an A in the laboratory section of the class if they would be in my group. The only stipulation was that they let me do all of the work, by myself, and only function in a fetch-and-carry capacity. No talking, no questions. They readily agreed, and we ended up being the highest-scoring team in our entire class. I think a couple of them even learned one or two things. I, however, was finally able to do something I really enjoyed without being forced to work with other people. This was a huge moment for me, and I have looked back upon that time in my life with exceeding fondness.
We live in a world that lauds the underdog, the entrepreneur, the lone genius, and simultaneously creates educational and business climates that completely smother those same singular souls. In fact, those of us who are even moderately introverted are made to feel somehow inferior, as though there is actually something wrong with us, something that can be fixed. And because of our introverted nature, many of us begin to believe that and struggle most of our lives with wanting to be ourselves on one hand and trying to do what everyone tells us to do on the other. The conflict is maddening and inhibits many sensitive people from fully enjoying life.
The author, herself an introvert, originally trained as a lawyer and spent a number of years in corporate litigation, trying to fit into the role she believed was correct. And although she was successful, the conflict between her true personality and her vocational persona slowly increased until she was finally able to break free and pursue a path that brings her peace and fulfillment and brings us this marvelous book.
The four sections of the text flow very smoothly from one to the next, starting with the exploration of introversion versus extroversion, examining the strengths of each (and their crossovers), and ending with some clear-cut counsel on how to communicate and get along with the introverts in one’s life, including oneself. We meet a wide variety of individuals in all walks of life who either struggle with (or have already overcome their struggles) succeeding in life without being squished by the more exuberant individuals in their circles. The relevant personality research data, as well as the scientists behind it, is presented in clear, easy-to-understand prose. It seems obvious to me that the author is taking great care to make this information available to all reading levels, without watering it down in the least.
Every few years, an incredible book comes along that demands a spot on the must-read shelf. This is one of them.