It is almost as important to know what is not serious as to know what is.
John Kenneth Galbraith
We live in an age of screaming. We are all screaming trying to be heard. In an effort to be heard, many resort to broadcasting details as headlines. “ I am washing my hair now!!!””
This is reality; there is no point in railing against it. But, in this loud, life- or- death, virtually connected world what is an introvert like me to do? What do we have that is valuable?
The answer: more than one might expect.
When it seems that most people are talking, who is actually listening? We are.
In a world where everyone has the power to publish, tweet, post and instagram his or her every thought, grudge, twinge or yen to
millions, those who speak the loudest are competing with others who have just as much ability to yell loud. It all blends into white noise.
When everyone is flailing about to get noticed, is it possible that what actually attracts attention is:
The person who isn’t electronically screaming at you?
Someone who respects that you really don’t want to see her sex tape?
Someone who simply patiently waits until the guy who dominates every meeting has exhausted himself, and then makes reasonable suggestions?
Someone who doesn’t share his or her every opinion on everything unless actually asked?
I was at a conference this week and one of the speakers was Susan Cain, the author of Quiet and TED Talks expert on introversion. I was shocked to learn that about 1 in 3 people are introverts. That is enough people to make a difference and offer a fresh perspective in any family, company, church or community. That’s a large enough group to hear, assimilate and make sense of what everyone else is saying.
There are a rash of Naked Reality shows at the moment. Naked Dating, Naked Real Estate, Naked and Afraid. Stay with me here, because I think there is a connection between this phenomenon and the deafening level of noise. At least nakedness can’t be faked. Though weird, the naked part sparks real interactions that are authentic in their awkwardness. A naked person has no power.
The paradox of power and influence is that the small and unassuming can be more seductive and persuasive than forcefulness just because it is different. Vulnerability is more powerful than brute force if brute force is everywhere you look.
I still wish I were an extrovert every time I am in a social situation or needing to ask someone for help. My stomach would not always be in knots and I would not be nearly as familiar with the taste of my own foot. I am so envious of that effortless charm and confidence that extroverts take for granted, it compelled me to pretend to be one. I came off like an over the top used car salesman on TV.
But, even more important to me is the spiritual link to quietness and smallness. Being still and quiet enough to listen to the tiny voice within is the only way things get done in the spiritual realm. It is different for each of us, but, for me, my source and my power come from the ability to dial back the noise and tune in to the sound of the wind chimes, the cadence of my soul and the song in my heart, put there by something infinite. After all, David was small, and we all know what happened to Goliath.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson