Redesign Your Belief - Redesign Your Life
For so long, I believed that my introversion made me less valuable to the world at large.
When I reflect on my history, I wasn’t unhappy. I had a happy childhood, but I had this very limiting belief, that my purpose was less important than the more extraverted people in my life.
I am the third child of four and the first daughter. I often wonder if that arrangement had some impact on my introversion.
I am an early seventies baby too. Perhaps having a girl during this time, especially with two older brothers, there might have been a perception that I didn't need too much focus or personal development?
My younger sister arrived in the world seven years after I did. So with a new baby in the house, and two older boys, my fading into the background was probably inevitable.
Since I never had the opportunity to ask my parents about this, maybe this theory is only a product of my overthinking introverted brain?
I spent a great deal of my time at my grandparent’s house. It offered a quiet space with people who I loved dearly and who in turn loved me back. I loved my parents too, and we enjoyed a wonderful relationship, but the house was always a trove of activity. My father often referred to it as “Chaos Inn”.
To escape the noise and the hustle-bustle of our family home, I would often head off to “Gran”. I would arrive there after school and telephone my mom to let her know where I was.
Receiving my first bicycle was the first tool that I remember that I could use to manage my introversion. It meant that I had more freedom, and more importantly, the means, to go and hang-out with my grandparents whenever I needed some quiet time.
My introversion grew with me, and while I was a happy child, and I am now a happy adult, I still often felt out of place, especially in a world that is mostly designed for extraverts.
It took a great deal of my energy and bravado to get through a day at the office, where I was exposed to an open-plan design, and so many colleagues just dropping by my desk. Not their fault, of course, that is how they are designed.
Similarly, my design as an introvert left me with very little energy at the end of the day. I loved retreating to the solitude of my own place to rejuvenate and recharge my batteries.
Swimming was another useful tool for me. Think about it; you swim with your head face down in the water. Awesome for an introvert :)
I swam (swim) often.
As my career developed, I found myself in a wonderful position which included global travel. I felt like the luckiest person on the planet.
The pitfall though, was that I would be responsible for a great deal of face-to-face training. Also, once a year, I was expected to train my colleagues at a mass event.
You can imagine my sheer panic!
Getting onto the plane, for my first overseas business trip, I struggled as to how I would manage to speak in public. For the entire journey, I went back and forth on how I would act and how I should act too.
How was I going to act? What had I got myself into?
As expected, there was a huge turnout. My colleagues and peers had come from all corners of the globe to listen to various updates that had taken place in the company, from a compliance perspective.
All my worry was well-placed because that trip turned out to be a massive failure!
I didn’t know the material well enough. I thought that I needed to be perfect. I thought I needed to know all of the answers.
What had the most profound impact on me though was that I thought that a more extraverted person, you know, someone great at speaking would be far better for the job.
I didn’t know how I was going to move forward and add value in this space that at the time, offered me so much personal growth. I knew and understood this growth potential, but it didn’t stop me from grappling with the prospect of letting myself out of my shell.
It dawned on me that if I continued with my limiting beliefs on who I was as an introvert, that it would have a massively negative effect on my life in the future. I reflected on where I was and how I had arrived at that place.
My skills had got me there. My peers recognised those skills and they had a belief in me. Here I was, so quick to allow my own lack of self-belief to overwhelm me.
I totally let myself down.
After all, I am just an introvert. I wasn’t then, and I am not now incompetent in any way.
A change of mindset was long overdue.
I knew that I had to reclaim my power. I knew that I had to get to a place where I fully understood that my introversion was simply the way I recharged my energy levels.
It was not how it would shape my destiny.
As I challenged my own beliefs, I went from a state of fear, into a place where I knew that I alone could shape a magnificent and adventurous life for myself. My introversion would not be a limiting factor for me.
It was simply a presence in my personality that I could style with a steadfast work ethic, attention to detail which was required for my job, and shaping the training to the specific audience I was speaking to. This is what I told myself, and this is what I started to believe.
As I practised a more powerful mindset, despite my introversion, my confidence grew and grew. It was reinforced after a talk I gave, and two colleagues who I held in high regard approached me to say how good I was.
How the training had made such sense; how my manner of speaking made the content more understandable. Still today, that belief that they had in me, and those words they shared with me, together with my own renewed self-belief inspires and gives me strength.
At long last, I could be authentically introverted. I loved it! I love it now still.
My change of mindset has moved me into opportunities that I never knew existed. Certainly into opportunities that had I succumbed to my limiting belief, would never have presented themselves to me.
It has led me into adventures that I would never have had, had I not embraced who I was, who I am, and believing that I could add value. Even while at the same time being an introvert.
It is our responsibility as critical thinkers, whether you are introverted or extraverted to challenge everything that prevents us from being the best version of ourselves.
An unchallenged belief could be that hurdle that slows you down, or even worse, halts your forward trajectory.