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Tag: rise of the introverts



PRODUCT: (book) QUIET INFLUENCE:  The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference

Author:  Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD

Publisher:  Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2013)

Hawaiians have a name for them, kanaka makua, the quiet people who live out their lives without fanfare and who do their best to support the efforts of the people around them.

The kanaka makua strive to live pono (balanced) lives.  They may be ali’i (chiefs) or kahuna (spiritual practitioners) or kumu (teachers and masters of various disciplines).  Often they are not.  They rarely speak in strident tones and they may not be famous outside their families and circle of friends.  People go to the quiet ones for advice and for discreet help and are not disappointed.

When the kanaka makua choose to take a stand, the people around them rise up to lend their support.  They are deeply honored, these kanaka makua, and when they pass on, their absence is keenly felt.

When I read Jennifer B. Kahnweiler’s book, QUIET INFLUENCE:  The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, I recognized her “Quiet Influencers.”  They are the same people we Hawaiians call “kanaka makua.”


Kahnweiler’s earlier book, THE INTROVERTED LEADER:  Building On Your Quiet Strength, published in 2009, was in the forefront of a wave of information about introverts and how they walk through the world.  World-change was speeding up then, and the standard in-your-face extrovert tactics were no longer as effective as they once were.

Since more than half of the population are NOT naturally into making a lot of noise, the idea percolated up through the mass consciousness that maybe the quiet ones, who are not fueled so much by external stimuli, might have other ways of walking that don’t involve so much pushing and shoving and talking fast and loud.  That idea keeps growing, that quiet and effective is a good thing to be.

You do not need to be Hawaiian to be a kanaka makua, it seems.  Nor does being an inherently quiet sort necessarily mean you are doomed to be relegated to obscurity.  The Dalai Lama, a man known to billions of people around the world, certainly qualifies as one.  So do people like Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Condoleeza Rice, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffet and Rosa Parks.

As former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright pointed out, “One indication of influence is the ability to stand boldly against hostile trends and alter them.”  All of these quiet people certainly qualify as influencers.


Kahnweiler’s book is built around answering one question:  “How do introverts make an impact by building on their natural strengths?”

Dr. Kahnweiler is an international speaker and an executive coach who has specialized in developing introverted leaders.  By drawing on her experiences to answer the question, she has made a how-to manual for the care, feeding, and handling of your own introvert nature.

She details the strengths that introverts can tap as leaders.  These include:

  • Taking Quiet Time
  • Preparation
  • Engaged Listening
  • Focused Conversations
  • Writing
  • Thoughtful Use of Social Media

Kahnweiler explains what these capabilities are and how you can work on developing them.  Then, she also goes into what happens if you OVER-USE them, explaining that when you rely on a strength too much, this can cause you to lose your ability to influence the people around you.  Every strength, she points out, can become a weakness if you use it too much – whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

The most interesting aspect of this is that Kahnweiler says she is not a natural introvert.  For her, the work she has done over the year has been like living for many years in a country where she is a foreigner.  Because of her own extrovert nature, she has been able to see the differences between the two perspective and she is able to compare the effects of having one or the other.  Sometimes an ex-pat can see more about how a strange land works than the natives living in it.


I do highly recommend this book.  As a person with introvert tendencies, I am finding much-needed validation of a style of walking that, for me, is the one with the greatest mana and meaning.  Learning to walk lightly while getting where I want to go and effecting the changes I’d like to see happen is so much more satisfying than stomping around “making Big Body.”

Another poem:



Go softly through your days,

Like a warm breeze, go softly,

Softly, touching lightly

This one, then that,

Moving like a quiet swell

That ends up sooshing on the sand.


Go softly through your days.

Lift your feet and let

The soles of them

Glide over the stones like mist,

Unfettered and untrammeled.


Go softly through your days

And the world will surround you

In a warm and welcoming embrace.

It will heave a gentle sigh

As you flow through it

On your way to another when.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  via

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