Priestly Advisors and Warrior Kings – Susan Cain, Again

We need “priestly advisors” in addition to “warrior kings” – Susan Cain

One of the most popular non-fiction books of this year has certainly been Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve written before about her ideas here, but there are a few quotations I still find worthy of remembrance. (And as we’ll see below, others might benefit from her words, too.)

Don’t Extroverts Rule the World – and Rightly So?
Despite the assumptions made by schools like Harvard’s Business School, extroverts don’t always make for better leaders: “If we assume that quiet and loud people have roughly the same number of good (and bad) ideas, then we should worry if the louder and more forceful people always carry the day… yet studies in group dynamics suggest this is exactly what happens.” (51)

Does this sound like your last faculty meeting?
“Groups are like mind-altering substances. If the group think the answer is A, you’re much more likely to believe that A is correct, too… (The study subjects) were utterly blind, in other words, to how much their peers had influenced them.” (92)

Ever feel for the quiet, capable students who wish to work alone?
“Our schools should teach children the skills to work with others – cooperative learning can be effective when practiced well and in moderation – but also the time and training they need to deliberately practice on their own.” (94)

Ever wonder if school leadership might be more subtle, more thoughtful, more reflective?
Cain argues, examining the soft power examples from other cultures, most obviously those like like Gandhi, show the value of those who lead “by water rather than fire” (197)

And why repeat a posting on Cain?
And evidence Cain’s warnings have been in the news recently – indirectly. A large section of her book is devoted to critiquing Tony Robbins’s Unleash the Power Within seminar, including the extroverted-mad ending where session participants are exhorted to walk across burning coals.

The extrovert bravado can literally defy the forces of physics! Believe in your own gregariousness and tower over the laws of thermodynamics!

Except not. From a July 23rd news article in the Vancouver Sun – apparently there are limits to the Power Within:

21 injured in hot coal walk at Tony Robbins motivational event

Fire officials in California say at least 21 people were treated for burns after attendees of an event for motivational speaker Tony Robbins tried to walk on hot coals.

The San Jose Mercury News reported at least three people went to a hospital and most suffered second-or third-degree burns.

Robbins was hosting a four-day gathering called Unleash the Power Within at the San Jose Convention Center.

Witnesses said a crowd went to a park on Thursday where 12 lanes of hot coals were laid out on the grass.

Witness Jonathan Correll said he heard “screams of agony.”

Robbins’ website promotes “The Firewalk Experience” in which people are encouraged to walk on superheated coals.

Fire Capt. Reggie Williams said organizers had an open fire permit and emergency personnel were on standby.

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