Today, it is generally accepted that to make your mark you need to be bright, extrovert and friendly at all costs. Those who achieve success are egocentric, melodramatic and are able to sell themselves brazenly and often inappropriately. The high-pitched election campaign that has just ended in Italy, with its yelling and its exaggerations, was the umpteenth manifestation of this widespread belief.
Personally, I am of the opposite opinion. In fact, rather than flamboyance I’ve always preferred an equally effective, but quieter and more discreet approach, based on dialogue.
This also appears to be the view of Susan Cain, who wrote Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, of which I have recently read a review. According to the author, it was the “introverts” who wrote the most important pages of history. Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Chopin, Marcel Proust, but also Gandhi, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa: these are the “giants” who changed the world, yet in life, they were, or are still, reserved, calm people who are sometimes even shy and awkward.
This may appear obvious, yet perhaps, because we are accustomed to this need for glamorisation at all costs, we tend to forget that talent is not measured by applause or standing ovations. We also forget that, every so often, it would do us good to judge people on what they do, and not on what they say.