There’s an old saying that “less is more” and in the world of the introverted it is really the truth.
As Susan Cain shows in her work most of the creative work of the world is conceived and completed by introverts. Could the painters Reubens or Homer have created their masterworks? Works that have influenced generations if they were not inclined to want to remain out of the way of others.
How about a patent office clerk in Bavaria? Could a gentleman with the humble name Einstein have postulated that there were certain universal truths about time and space and the speed of light if he had been forced from the back room of the patent office where he did his major early work?
The funny thing is that though he was a man with many titles and degrees by the end of his life, Einstein could barely balance his checkbook. Maybe that gave him the freedom to look at the “laws of nature” from a different angle. You never know what you’ll find when someone moves away from you or takes his work to another table so that he or she can be alone.
Cain, who has done meticulous research into the topic of introverted people, has found that introverts have done some of mankind’s greatest work and thinking. Here’s an example that, though it doesn’t come from Cain’s life, does, in fact from the life of Guglielmo Marconi. (Marconi, for the record, was not an introvert; he funded his company at the age of 20 with millions of dollars, all based on an idea that no one could see.) Many of Marconi’s engineers – the men who build the transmit and receiving stations in the UK on the islands off the UK and in North America, were quiet, unassuming men who, when they were not with their families, wanted to do nothing more than spend time with their transmitting and receiving equipment; improving it. Indeed, the fellows who improved Marconi’s “adherer” – the little device that made the radio work – did so after spending hours and hours in the lab by themselves.
Cain argues passionately about the value of introversion and sees nothing wrong with it. Why, just the art of creating the well-written and documented work, shows that it does take introversion to get anything accomplished.
Interestingly, Cain also looks at the latest work in extroversion and notes that some of the funnier or more creative work done when a person was in an introverted phase are important and, perhaps, funnier, than if the person had been an extrovert. There appears to be a delicate balance between introversion and extroversion and Susan Cain’s excellent work shows where the fault lines fall.