Review – Quiet by Susan Cain

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Susan Cain’s book on introversion is, in my estimation, an indispensable resource on challenges introverts face in an extroverted world. The book is well researched and written. The five years it Cain took to write is evident. I was surprised by the amount of research Quiet contained, and the extensive research serves as a testimony to a self-avowed introvert.

Cain organized the book around four main sections. Part One, the Extrovert Ideal, covers the cultural propensity toward extroversion. Part Two, Your Biology, Your Self! covers biological factors of introversion. Part Three, Do All Cultures have an Extrovert Ideal, explores other cultures and whether there are cultures that are more introverted. Part Four, How to Love, How To Work, gives guidance on how to live as an introvert in an extrovert’s world.

One of the main points Cain made was that introversion is not something to be cured or fixed. It is a temperament. She points out not only the contribution introverts have made, but how their temperament is essential to society. Introvert’s quiet contributions have literally changed the world. Through many encouraging chapters she helps introverts to embrace their temperament, find their voice, and contribute. The book addresses how extroverted cultures create challenges that Introverts must understand and adapt to if they are going to reach their potential.

The book was comprehensive, covering everything from biological factors to how to succeed in an extroverted world. She also addresses raising a child who may be an introvert. A wonderful take away was her suggestions on public speaking.

The book is well researched, however, I wish the references to the endnotes were in the text. While not having references in the text, does make the book easier to read, it makes further research more difficult. Also, not having references in the text makes it difficult to know which statements had research and which ones didn’t. That is my only critique however.

This is an excellent book and resource for both introverts and extroverts. I recommend this book to those who know they are introverted because it gives suggestions and guidance on how to embrace one’s introversion while living in an extroverted world. I recommend this book to those who work, or live, with introverts, and anyone who has to lead or manage people. Extroverted leaders and managers have much to gain through this book. By understanding more about the introverts, and their potential contributions, both introverts and extroverts will find their world enriched.

Review – The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg

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At one time in my life I believed that if I wanted to grow spiritually it meant praying for an hour each day. For a while I attempted this practice. Each morning I would arise with my outline and a watch. For a while I was able to successfully pray through the outline for an hour. Some days were all right. Other days I didn’t think the hour would ever end. Overall, I would say the practice was not helpful. It did not create more love, joy, or peace in my life. It did not open me up to God’s spirit in my life. In the end, I was glad I could check it off my to-do list. Even though it looked good (Hey! I prayed an hour!), it was not forming me into the person God had created me to be.
During that season of my life I needed a book like Ortberg’s. If I would have been able to read The Me I Want To Be, I would have discovered that because of my personality, such a practice probably wasn’t helpful for me. I had to discover that for myself, but it took much time, frustration, and guilt.

One of the most important points this book makes is that what we find helpful for spiritual growth is connected to who we are. In other words, there isn’t a one size fits all spirituality program. Some people will find praying through an outline for an hour something that causes the spirit to flow. I did not. What I have find helpful, others will not.

Ortberg does a wonderful job of removing guilt from our formative practices. Just because we can’t pray for an hour, or find other classic spiritual disciplines meaningful, does not mean we are bad Christians. It only means that certain practices are not aligned to our personalities. Once we can remove guilt and the practices that are not helpful, we are free to discover and engage in practices that allow the spirit of God to flow in our lives so we might flourish, or become who God has created us to be.

I feel the title is unfortunate however. To me, the title seems more in line with a self-help book, which this book is not. This book assumes that the “me I want to be” is who God created me to be. Spiritual practices serve to create space in our lives where God’s spirit can move, helping us to move closer to who we really are.

I recommend this book even though I view it more of a “first step” toward something greater. I wish Ortberg would have been able to discuss more spiritual practices and how they line up with various personality temperaments. Hopefully, after you read this book, you will have a greater desire to find practices that open you to God’s presence and love!