I want you to think about someone you know who is an extrovert. How would you describe them?
I’m guessing you’ve probably picked someone who is really outgoing, confident, loud and out there right?
Whilst it’s true that many (ok, probably most) extroverts are like this, did you know that being an extrovert or an introvert is less about how outgoing or shy you are and more about where you get your energy from?
Extroversion and introversion is personality trait that exists along a spectrum or continuum as identified by psychologist Carl Jung and popularised, particularly in the business sphere, through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In a nutshell, it identifies the two preferences in which people have to recharge their energy and ultimately energise their brains.
For example, Introverts (or those people with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They actually lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
Now, like anything, there are varying levels of extroversion and introversion and everyone possess both traits – they just have a preference (subconscious leaning) towards one or the other.
But, I’m not going to bore you with a lesson in psychology tonight, other to relate it back to me and my preference for extroversion and what that means for my energy levels.
I’m a classic extrovert. On the scale above, I’m probably close to the orange circle – where the word outgoing is. I am confident, loud, outgoing and a little bit out there! And I struggle existing in my own head. Extroverted types like me, learn and work best by talking and interacting with others. By interacting with the physical world, extroverts can process and make sense of new information. It is also the same way they distill and make sense of existing information.
Talking off the cuff and operating on the fly, particularly in a business context is something that I excel at, mainly because having an audience allows me to think more clearly and distill the thoughts that churn through my head. My mantra at life is fake it til you make it and I know that I am much more productive when I’m talking, engaging and interacting with people.
So it’s no surprise to me that when I consider my extroverted tendencies and how that relates to my writing, there is a distinct correlation and as a result my writing suffers. Prior to starting this blog, I would struggle as I sat in front of my computer and tried to write. I get antsy and find myself procrastinating because I can’t get what is going on in my mind onto a page. Since starting this blog however, some of that has struggle has eased and some of those blocked words have been unblocked. And quite simply its because I have an audience. I know that someone, even if it’s only one person on the other side of the world, is reading what I’ve written and ‘hearing’ what I have to say.
Lately I’ve become more and more aware of my need to not only ‘think’ out loud, but to try and work with people (and in particularly introverts) so that we can both operate in a space that is conducive to our re-energising styles. Introverts can’t think out loud, they need quiet and space away from people to do their thinking, which makes sitting with their own thoughts, and being able to pull them together in a more coordinated fashion a lot easier for them. This makes for some obvious clashes in trying to get onto the same page as an extrovert!
So where am I going with all of this? What’s triggered this essay on psychological personality traits? Well, excitingly, I think found my source of energy when it comes to my writing! Let me explain! I’m heading off to a writing conference in August and I’ve wanted to go for the past three years but pregnancies and new bubbas have basically made it impossible (not that it’s been a bad thing, I promise!). I nearly got there last year after the birth of Miss A, but it was too hard to coordinate babysitters, or work through the logistics of taking a breastfed bubba along with me so I didn’t go. But not this year!! This year the flights and hotels are booked, conference tickets sorted and babysitters under control!
As a part of the conference however, a closed facebook page has been created by the organisers for all the newbie writers attending the conference to get to know each other before hand and I have to say that it’s been awesome. It’s only been a couple days and already there is a vibrant, nurturing and supportive atmosphere which energises me immensely! I have come home from work this afternoon and after the girls have been tucked up in bed have written 250 words (not a lot I know but baby steps right?). And I realised that I need this group! I need them to energise and motivate me to keep moving forward!
So tonight I’m taking another step forward in the right direction and that’s exciting. I can’t wait to take in all I can from this group of fabulous ladies and meet up with them in August! Another step in my being fearless in 2015 and keeping the dream alive.
How do you get your energy? Are you an introvert or an extrovert like me?