At the end of a long day at work all you want to do is go home and spend the rest of the night in bed, nestling a cup of coffee and a book. But your department is going for a quick drink at the pub to celebrate Tumi’s birthday. You say yes because you’ve run out of excuses for turning down the after-work invitations.
Also, you’re 7 months into your first job and peer evaluations are coming up soon – you had one too many ‘antisocial’ and ‘not a team player’ comments in the previous one. There’s a huge pit in your stomach at the thought of another awkward conversation with your supervisor:
“Do you feel fulfilled in your role in this company?”
“Well, yes. I think I’m finding my feet.”
That’s what you said, but what you really meant was… I find the tasks challenging but the emphasis on group work means ‘big personalities’ tend to dominate. I’m frustrated at the fact that Mary the Motor Mouth gets all the credit for work done just because no one else can get a word in edgewise when she’s in the room. I feel discouraged because I know my potential but I don’t think that I’ll ever be given the opportunity to fulfil it.
You have brilliant ideas, great listening skills and are a focussed and analytical thinker. But your greatest fear is that you’ll be stuck behind the scenes for the rest of your career. You crave recognition for your work. You want to influence, inspire and change the world.
You want to be a rockstar but you’re stuck singing “woo-woos” for someone else’s show.
You’re an introvert and this is not a problem, it’s your superpower. In fact, your way of thinking, relating to people and doing things is exactly what the world needs right now. But if you’re going to maximise your power, you’re going to have to believe that too because ultimately the power is in your hands.
Beyoncé is a world class example of what this looks like. She has described herself as “an introverted kid”. If you’ve ever seen an interview of her she comes across as shy, reserved and quiet. I know you’ve heard that before. I also know that you’ve felt the pressure to be more of an extrovert. As if you can wilfully change something so fundamental to your personality.
I’m an extrovert who thinks introverted people put the Pow! in Powerful. Without introverts my life would just be …erful. Who would be in charge of the grammar and spelling police? No true extrovert has the focus to give that much attention to detail.
We need you powerful introverts so here are some practical tips for unleashing your superpowers!
#1 Use obscurity as an opportunity for growth.
Long before Beyonce was the rock star we know today, she was taking dance classes, performing at talent shows and entering singing competitions. No one knew or cared who she was and this was important because she needed this time to learn, to make mistakes, to grow without the pressure to be perfect and meet anyone’s expectations.
Do not despise the days of small beginnings, embrace them. Because while everyone else is concerned with exceeding their previous sales targets, winning employee of the month and juggling multiple responsibilities, you’ll have the freedom to centre yourself and consider what direction you want to take in your work. As an introvert one of your greatest strengths is your rich inner life, use this!
Your time of hiddenness is time to develop a vision for where you want to be in the future. Read authors that stimulate your thinking and inspire you to dream big. Search for biographies of people you admire, subscribe to a blog that motivates you to be awesome. Once you’re done thinking, commit your thoughts to writing. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s free book on Creating a Life Plan. And when you’re ready to turn your dreams into action, check out Jon Acuff’s book Start.
#2 Be collaborative but don’t be choirly.
Beyonce was part of the group Destiny’s Child which sold over 60 million albums worldwide. In 2003 after the group’s split 2 years before, Beyonce released her first album which became her bestselling album to date. Here’s the thing, had Beyonce decided to go solo from the start, I don’t think she would have reached the same level of success that she’s enjoyed post-Destiny’s Child.
At that stage in her career, working in a group was crucial, she needed to combine her efforts with like minded people. Beyonce was collaborative but she never fell into the choir/herd/mob mentality and she still stepped out of her comfort zone. She always distinguished herself. She was the blonde haired girl when the others wore theirs black, she wrote the songs and took the lead on the choruses.
As an introvert you prefer to work alone but often that choice is not yours to make. Instead of letting the extroverts control your interactions, encourage the group to prepare a group meeting schedule in advance. By doing that, you can carve out some alone time to relax and recharge before and in between meetings. Also, remember to maintain a separate identity, don’t be tempted to fit in or conform. Resist the temptation to let other people speak for you, find your voice. In a team one of your greatest strengths is your ability listen to everyone’s ideas, analyse them and from that point, help the team understand each other better and come up with an effective solution.
#3 Practise, practise, practise and then perform.
Before she goes on tour, Beyonce spends weeks with a choreographer, tweaking and rehearsing every move. Before she releases a song she spends months writing, arranging and perfecting the melody. Before we see the finished product, she’s been on that stage for hours practising and practising and practising until she produces a flawless performance.
If you’re going to fully harness your superpower, you’re going to need to put in many hours of practice. The idea that your work will speak for itself is a myth, don’t be fooled. If you’re tired of being misunderstood, practise talking about yourself and your passions. If you have a brilliant idea that could solve all of Africa’s problems, practise communicating it in a way that makes sense. If you struggle to articulate yourself in public, practise in private first. Do it in front of a mirror, record a video, ask a good friend to listen.
The trick is to do your practise away from what you consider a high pressure environment. If corporate presentations freak you out, volunteer to teach in children’s church. 3 year old are merciful and really don’t know the difference between a dramatic pause and an awkward silence.
You were made for more than pushing papers and living in the shadow of Mary the Motor Mouth. You don’t need a personality transplant before you can reach your full potential. You were meant to inspire, influence and change the world.
I dare you to commit yourself to trying any of these things Beyonce has mastered, starting now. Who knows, one day you could be the world class example that’s worth blogging about.
Get your free download of Creating Your Life Plan here: http://michaelhyatt.com/creating-your-life-plan
Buy your copy of Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1937077594?pc_redir=1406124641&robot_redir=1
And don’t forget to subscribe to Mukoko!