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The Extrovert – Diary of A World That Can’t Stop Talking

 

Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.”

…Anais Nin

We’ve all grown up in this western cultural mindset that told us it’s great to be bold, to be sociable (think about Social Media). Extroverts love to get out there and meet new people, crank up the stereo, race to the finish line, tackle assignments quickly. Which means we’ve lost sight of who we really are.

But, did you know that one third to one half of our population are introverts?…in other words, one out of every two or three people you know.

That was astonishing to me! Could I actually be an introvert?!! So I did some research. And here’s a very interesting story that exemplifies how our North American culture evolved into the rise of the Extrovert Ideal…

The date: 1902. The place: Harmony Church, Missouri, a tiny dot-on-the-map, village in small-town U.S.A. Our leading character: a good-natured but insecure teenage boy named Dale.

Skinny, fretful, unathletic, Dale was the son of a morally upright but constantly bankrupt pig farmer. He loves and respects his parents but is horrified that he might end up like them. Dale worries about other things too. Thunder and lightening, having a date for his high school prom, and being tongue-tied at crucial moments.

Well, one day a very captivating speaker comes to town. You know the kind…with the ability to mesmerize an audience. And, he fascinates young Dale with his rag-to-riches story. How he went from a lowly farm boy with a bleak future, to how he developed a charismatic speaking style and took to the stage. Dale hangs on every word he says.

A few years go by and Dale is again impressed by the value of public speaking. He is now in college and he observes that the students who win the campus speaking contests are viewed as leaders, and he is determined to be one of them. He signs up for every contest. He practices every night at home. Again and again he loses.

Eventually though his efforts begin to pay off. He transforms himself into a speaking champion and campus hero. By the time he leaves college, students are seeking him out for help in speaking, and corporate America is booming. J.C. Penney, Sears Roebuck, Woolworth are all household names.

Well, this new economy called for a new kind of man…a salesman, a social operator who had a ready smile, a great handshake. You know the kind. So, Dale joins the ranks of those salesmen, heading out on the road.

Dale’s last name as you may have guessed by now is Carnegie. The rest is history. His book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” was one of the first best-selling, self-help books ever published. His story is also the rise of our cultural evolution that reached a tipping point around the turn of the twentieth century.

So, here’s what happened. We shifted our focus from inner goodness and integrity to outer seductiveness, magnetism, and charm. We went from a Culture of Character, to a Culture of Personality. And, we opened up a Pandora’s box of personal stress and anxiety from which we have not yet recovered.

And, it’s bizarre given the fact that most of us are actually introverts, who have learned how to adopt extroverted behaviors in order to succeed. But, at what a cost!! We have now reached epidemic levels in depression, and mental health issues. 

The solution is simple. But, most people have dismissed it with a wave of their hand and then carried on with their very busy lives.

What we ALL really need to do is to learn how to get still once again. We need to embrace the silence that is within us.  For it is there that we will receive great wisdom. Look at it as a sanctuary for our busy selves…a time when we can just “be” without having to impress anyone else. And, it’s very, very important that we discover this sacredness again.

It truly is an inside job. A training of sorts where the payoff won’t be in lining the pockets of those who are already “fat” from profits, but rather, a return to the riches of our own soul.

That, my friends, is priceless.