Although, I never always thought that it was!
But hang on, before you think that this post is only for introverts, it’s not. This one is about limiting beliefs, and whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, we all have limiting beliefs – even if you don’t know it yet.
Back to my introversion:)
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 extroverted people in my life.
The wonderful thing about that situation is that I was teaching myself resilience from a very early age. I really did get on with doing what made my heart happy.
Aha! There is the first power of my introversion!
An introvert in a big noisy family
I am the third child of four and the first daughter. I often wonder if that arrangement had some impact on my character as an introvert.
I am an early seventies baby too. Perhaps having a girl during this time, especially with two older brothers, might have been a perception that I didn’t need too much focus or personal development?
I do believe that my dad had a clear idea of what my future looked like to him. This idea was shared with me during a heated conversation with him shortly before his passing. He suggested that I get my life in order because, at my age, I should have a secure grounding with a family, a steady job and a house with a white picket fence.
Ok, he didn’t say the words “white picket fence”, but I thought it was inferred. Maybe because as he was giving me his life plan, I gazed out the window and there in front of his house, was in fact, that white picket fence.
I don’t want any assumptions about my relationship with my father by sharing this conversation. I share it only to demonstrate that each of us has a purpose. But even when we come from the same family, with shared interests, our purpose can be opposites of each other.
I often found my purpose and where my heart was to be opposites of others.
Until recently, this situation scared me.
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.
I was a happy child, and I am now an extraordinarily happy adult, but I still often felt out of place.
Especially in a world that is mostly designed for extroverts.
My corporate career
It took a great deal of my energy and bravado to get through a day at the office. 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. So when I wasn’t up for a drink out or socialising, I was often seen as the “party pooper.”
I started to become “ok” with this label.
Fantastically though, in this environment, I started to discover the amazing characteristics of the introverted personality. I first understood that introversion is fundamentally one thing – it’s how we use our energy. Secondly, I was just as capable and just as awesome as my more extroverted peers and colleagues.
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. My brain went back and forth for the entire journey on what I was expected to do in the following week of meetings!
I was so scared!
As expected, there was a large turnout. My colleagues had come from all corners of the globe to listen to various updates that had taken place in the company.
I was in that line up to share updates on compliance training.
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.
However, what had the most profound impact on me was that I thought that a more extroverted 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.
In retrospect, this failure was really awesome feedback for me to start to work on my limiting beliefs.
We have to take on our limiting beliefs head on!
It was obvious that if I continued with my train of thought on who I was as an introvert, it would have a massively negative effect on my life in the future.
So, it was time to take some positive steps towards my own personal development!
I considered how I got to that place, where I was. My inner place and my outer world that I was reacting to at the time.
This was the list I came up with. (I do love a checklist:)
- Passion for adding value in the workspace
- A loving home that my parents created for me
When I started to reflect on my positive attributes in my character, I realised that I had totally let myself down. I also realised that if I were hard on myself with this realisation of letting myself down, I would regress even further.
After all, I am just an introvert. I wasn’t then, and I am not now incompetent in any way.
This is how I did it.
1. Understanding my introversion;
2. Challenged my beliefs to move from fear to confidence;
3. Understanding what my real fears were – they come dressed up in all things;
3. Celebrated my daily wins;
4. I accepted actioning things when I was feeling uncomfortable before hand;
5. Engaging with my colleagues and peers with an intention to understand them. This was amazing because as you understand others, you understand so much more about yourself!
Taking responsibility for your mindset pays off
As I became more aware of my limiting beliefs and stamping them out as they arose, I noticed so many changes happening around me.
I received positive comments from stakeholders in the business who attended my training. 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 constructive words they shared with me, together with my own renewed self-belief always inspires and gives me strength when I need it.
An authentic introvert
For the first time I was showing up as an authentic introvert. I was an introvert in an environment where I completely understood my characteristics and started to enjoy them.
I didn’t pretend to be something that I was not, and I also didn’t feel “less” than anyone else.
Now in the present, my changed mindset has moved me into opportunities that I never knew existed. Had I succumbed to my limiting belief then, I shudder to think where I would be now.
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.
Challenge your beliefs
An unchallenged belief could be that hurdle that slows you down, or even worse, halts your forward trajectory.
Always be assessing your beliefs and your habits around these two questions:
- Does this belief help me move forward? or
- Does this belief hinder my progress?
And remember that we have thoughts that are shaped by our beliefs practically every second of the day.
Be aware of your thoughts, so that you can start the amazing journey towards shifting your beliefs.
If you are unsure of your personality traits, this free quiz will help you better understand what makes you tick. Finding out what makes you tick, is so brilliant!
Be awesome! Wherever your awesome comes from.