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5 Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

pinot life lessons 1If you’ve read enough posts on the Bennis Inc blog, you’ve likely stumbled upon the mention of my Russian Blue cat, Pinot. She has been a key member of my staff since before I made the entrepreneurial leap to take my business fulltime. I’ve kept a sense of humor as to how Miss Pinot “assists” in my business, but let’s be honest, she’s more of a figurehead than a worker bee.

As I approach the fourth anniversary of quitting my 9-5 and pursuing my dream of running my own business, it’s only fitting that I also reflect upon what my snarky mascot has taught me about maintaining a work-life balance, making tough decisions and keeping a sense of humor about it all.

Enjoy these five lessons that my cat has taught me about entrepreneurship!

Know when to spring into action and know when to lay low.

Pinot has two settings: rocket ship and ancient sloth. When there is a task on her to-do list, she tackles it with urgency. Anything else that is not deemed as necessary of her attention, she barely opens an eye. Certainly this is an extreme lesson for any business owner to fully embrace, so let’s water it down a bit.

I apply this Pinot philosophy by jumping on any task I can complete that day. I’ve made a conscious effort to “eat my frogsand clear my bandwidth early and often. In contrast, I’ve also learned to not rush to complete those tasks that are awaiting important details from other people, are not deemed urgent or could potentially cost me time without the guarantee of payment. Thanks to Pinot, I know how to choose when I spring into action or lay low to remain efficient with my time.

Make time to care for yourself daily.

Pinot can often be caught leg in air, in the middle of a very intense bathing routine. She prioritizes the hours she spends grooming her coat and sharpening her claws. While 6+ hours out of anyone’s day is far too much time to devote exclusively to maintaining yourself, there is a lesson to be learned here.

pinot life lessons 2

Thanks to Pinot, I’ve embraced the habit of treating my body to some sort of exercise daily. I also make time for life’s little luxuries like a haircut, trip to the nail salon or browsing a store so long as my other work tasks for the day are complete. It’s my reward for efficiency and my motivation to push through challenging tasks.

Manage your own agenda…unless you really, really need something.

Pinot is like that roommate that you never really run into, yet you know they still live with you because of the random items they leave scattered around. In Pinot’s case, this is mostly litter and fur. Pinot manages her own agenda and rarely comes to me unless she really, really needs something – i.e. food or belly scratches.

I perceive the value of this lesson to be the importance of working independently, yet not being shy about asking for something when you need it. I aim to make my clients’ lives easier by not having to micromanage me. When producing content, I do need their initial input. But all I ask for is simple bullet points or fragments of ideas. From there, I work independently to weave this into a final product they’re proud to share with the media, on their website or with their social networks.

If you’re not getting the attention you need, insert yourself until you can’t be ignored.

To add to the point I just made above, when you do really, really need something from a client in order to do your job, be assertive and follow-up with them until you get the answers you need. Pinot has the skill refined into an art form. Anyone who owns a cat, or has even been around a cat, you know how they insert themselves into your space until you can no longer choose to ignore their presence.

Pinot has laid across my laptop as I type, waved her tail in front of my eyes and tucked herself tight up against my arm so I cannot do anything but breathe without acknowledging her (I think she’s working on a tactic for that breathing part, too). Sometimes what Pinot wants (i.e. treats) I can’t give her or she doesn’t need at that time. I verbally or non-verbally tell her no and she moves on. This is an incredibly valuable lesson in business.

I’ve written about how a no is as good as a yes. As a business owner, we need answers to move forward. Even if that answer is a no, it is still better than no answer at all. With Pinot as inspiration I (more tactfully) follow-up with contacts until I receive an answer and the ability to move forward

Prioritize and capitalize on any opportunity to nap.

If there is one thing cats are good for, it’s napping. I believe the average cat racks up about 17 hours per day of Zzzz’s. That’s no joke! Personally, not only does that much sleep sound terrible, but I’d have no time to accomplish anything else. Instead, this is another Pinot lesson I take with a grain of salt.

I have learned the value of a good power nap in the afternoon when the opportunity presents itself. So often, my energy wanes as my mind is burnt out from the morning’s writing, conference calls and networking meetings. Rather than guzzling caffeine and pushing through the wall, I devote no more than an hour (often less) to shutting down completely. Everyone responds to napping differently, but for me, and many other effective leaders throughout history, a nap breathes a fresh breath of air into the day. I am able to do far more quality work when I awake compared to the unenergized and unfocused work I would have accomplished without napping.

Which one of Pinot’s lessons is your favorite? Share how you will or already do apply this wisdom to your career by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How Do an Introvert and Extrovert Live Together in Peace?

Opposites_attract When I first met my husband, I immediately loved how effortless it was to be with him. I was content in his company because I could be myself and say whatever was on my mind. Some days we would pack a week’s worth of activities into a few hours and other days we would do absolutely nothing special – and every day together was (and still is) so much fun. To people who know us, they might say we are a good match for one another. We have similar interests, career aspirations and humor. Yet, what many people would never guess is that we are actually opposites when it comes to our personality type. I am an introvert and he is an extrovert. While there are other differences as well, this has been the most noticeable throughout our life journey together.

A common misconception is that introverts are shy and extroverts are outgoing. Not so. What it really boils down to is where you get your energy. I require alone time, solitude and quiet to recharge after interacting with people. My husband, the extrovert, gathers his energy from being around people. A day of solitude is actually draining to him. You can see how two people with opposite personality types can quickly run into a few road bumps when seeking out their energy sources.

So how can we all get along and give each other the space, or the attention we need even when it’s opposite from what we might crave? Here are 5 tips for how I have personally learned to live in peace and balance with someone the opposite of my personality type.

  1. Make an effort to understand each other’s personalities.

I gave you the two-sentence summary of introverts and extroverts, but that hardly scratches the surface. One of the best things my husband and I did was take the Myers-Briggs type indicator leading up to our marriage. We were able to see the differences in how we approach different situations in life and it really shed light on areas in which we may not see eye to eye because of our different personalities. Rather than being frustrated because he didn’t react to something the same way I did, I gained the understanding that he is reacting in a way that is appropriate and acceptable for him. Also, realizing that he is drained by too much downtime and solitude gave context to why he might like to hop to the next activity when I would rather have a break. Really understanding each other’s personalities is essential for living together in peace.

  1. Don’t judge or compare.

With the understanding of our differences, comes the temptation to judge and compare these differences. It also made me self-conscious of handling situations differently than he would. Why would I rather stay home when he wants to go see friends? Why do I feel drained when he’s excited to interact with everyone around him? The answer to this question is that it simply doesn’t matter. Comparing an introvert to an extrovert is like comparing hot to cold, black to white, up to down and wondering why they aren’t the same. It’s maddening if you don’t recognize it and change that way of thinking! In your own relationships, try not to be critical of each other’s need for social interaction or desire for alone time. Rather, encourage it.

  1. Find balance with independent activities.

My husband enjoys things I don’t and vice versa. Rather than give up these hobbies and interests because we don’t share them, we seek them out independently. An example is when we go on vacation. He might spend an afternoon golfing (something I have never had an interest in) while I read a book, take a nap or spend time with someone else in my family. There are still many things we do together, but we are not joined at the hip. We are confident and comfortable with our relationship to enjoy time apart without feeling guilty or conflicted. This has been a very valuable for helping us – an introvert and extrovert – live together happily.

  1. Be in tune to cues and triggers.

While we are opposites, this is not an excuse for my husband or me to be blind to each other’s cues and triggers for stressful situations. I continue to learn from past experiences what may cause him to be uncomfortable, unhappy or angry. These are very different from my own triggers. I can also pick up on non-verbal cues for when he may be in more distress than what he is openly communicating. I then search for ways to change the situation to alleviate the problem before it grows into a full-blown fight. I can say the same for him about me as well (and I will openly admit that I am more likely the person getting stressed out). Taking an active role in trying to understand each other’s personalities has helped us to be a better support system when times get tough.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

Finally and most importantly, come to terms with the fact that you cannot and should not be the sole source of each other’s happiness. Especially in the beginning of our relationship, I wanted to accommodate my husband and his active and outgoing personality. If he suggested something to do, I would oblige even when I needed some downtime. This works for a while, but as we grew in our relationship I felt more and more comfortable expressing my desire for some alone time. We had to learn that these differences were not our failures to make each other happy. Sometimes he will attend a social event and I’ll stay home, and when we come together again we are content and excited to see one another. The bottom line is that opposite personality types aren’t designed to be the missing piece that fills every void. We must still seek out other friends and activities to be truly fulfilled.

Opposites attract – and we are one more example of this truth – however, learning to live together day in and day out while accommodating our opposite personality type has been a continual learning process. As we continue down this life journey together, there will be much more to learn and maybe the best we can do is stay passionate and sincere about wanting to help each other live a life of contentment – in whatever form that contentment is found.

Are you an introvert or extrovert who lives with the opposite? Share how you accommodate each other’s personality types by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Life

 

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One Habit of Highly Effective People I Follow (Almost) Everyday

cat nap

As a busy entrepreneur who is also the mother of an even busier toddler, you might imagine my days are scheduled by the minute and packed tight with meetings, conference calls, walks to the park and library classes – and they are. But I want to confess one habit I keep almost daily that will completely contradict your vision of a fast-paced, work-from-home mom.

I nap.

Yes, picture that! I prioritize about one hour of every afternoon during which I close my laptop, turn off my phone and snooze. I’m highly protective of this time and avoid scheduling meetings, calls or work projects if I can help it in any way. What I’ve found is something quite remarkable, that the days I go off the grid to re-energize, I actually accomplish more in less time than the days I forego my midday slumber.

There have been days when my to-do list was just far too long to justify a nap and I found that my creativity, efficiency and passion for my work substantial declined to the point where had I just stopped to rest, I would have accomplished the same amount of work in that time and likely would have done a better job. Now these are simply my own findings, but it got me thinking if this whole “nap habit” was something anyone else had caught on to or if it was my own justification for shutting down as soon as I got the least bit fatigued. I discovered I am in very good company.

According to this article, some pretty incredible people were habitual nappers. I’m talking Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to name a few. Now, I’m not saying this was the only thing that led to their world-changing successes, but I do find it intriguing that this is one aspect of their lifestyles that they had in common.

The Benefits of Napping

Simply google the phrase “benefits of napping” and you will have more than enough material to convince you thoroughly. I highly suggest trying it out to experience these benefits first-hand. This article does a great job of highlighting some of the best ones. To summarize:

  • Boosts alertness – Even just 20 minutes has been shown to drastically increase alertness once you fully wake up
  • Improves learning and memory – Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a rest
  • Increases creativity – A nap is like an intensified way of walking away from a problem to find a solution. It’s amazing how you can come back to that issue that had stumped you before and come up with several new ways to solve it in minutes.
  • Boosts productivity – Studies have shown that a nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee to get you going again.
  • Puts you in a good mood – Here’s a simple example, have you ever been around a toddler pre-nap and post-nap? I “rest” my case.
  • Zaps stress – Even if it’s only for a short period (say 10 minutes), the sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever.

How to Prioritize Your Nap

  1. Make it the same time every day

First, pick a time of day that general works best for you. When do you not have any other standing obligations? When do you normally feel most fatigued or distracted? When can you go “off-line” without anyone really missing you? Once you determine your nap time, respect it as part of your schedule just as you would any other commitment.

  1. Shut down all other distractions

Next, make the most of the precious time you carve out for your nap by turning off your phone and removing your computer from eye-sight. Don’t turn on the TV or read a book, rather lay down, close your eyes and let your mind rest.

  1. Set your alarm

To ensure you don’t get carried away with your nap (which can negatively impact the rest of your day by creeping into the time allotted for other tasks or making it hard to fall asleep at night), set your alarm. I have napping down to an art where I am asleep within a minute or two of closing my eyes and as soon as I hear my alarm, I spring back into action. You may need to experiment to find the perfect nap length that rejuvenates you without making you groggy, but once you find this sweet spot it is totally worth it!

  1. Napping is a priority, but also a privilege

Finally, remember that while napping is a healthy habit, you have to earn your nap each and every day by working hard when you are awake and being efficient with your time. For me, I know if I want that afternoon rest, I need to stay focused all other hours of the day, plan ahead and prioritize.

I’ll close with this final thought. Why do we believe that napping is something we must grow out of at a certain age? Just as it’s a healthy and necessary habit for my toddler to take his daily nap, I believe it’s just as healthy and necessary for us adults. Our daily activities may be different than a 1-year-old’s, but they are just as stimulating and demanding in their own way. Many cultures embrace an afternoon nap as a time to reset, allowing you to return to your duties with a fresh mind.

For as long as I continue to benefit from it, I will embrace the lifestyle of a habitual napper. While there are many more ways in which I could urge you to do the same, I’d rather end this article here so I can settle down for my nap.

Do you believe that daily napping could make you more effective at your job? Share why or why not by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Why We Need Rainy Days

cat looking at rainy window

It has been a gorgeous summer in Pennsylvania. After a long and cold winter, we have earned these warm and sunny days – and there have been many! A couple of weeks ago I had some (rare) free time during a Sunday afternoon. My first instinct was to find something to do outside that would allow me to enjoy the day; however, the skies were ominous with a pending thundershower. As I stood by the window, I took a deep breath and felt a wave of relief wash over me. What an odd reaction to have to a dismal day? No, I didn’t feel sad, depressed, frustrated or annoyed. I felt relieved.

Reflecting on this feeling and the circumstances of the day made me realize something quite important. We all need rainy days in our life. Obviously the rain nourishes and revitalizes the earth, but it does the same for us.

My relief came from not feeling like I had to find something to do make the most of the nice weather. I had an excuse to be inside – and to just slow down for a little bit. On this particular afternoon, I watched a movie from start to finish (a nearly impossible feat for a mother of a toddler). That’s it. That’s all I accomplished and had nothing to show for it. Or did I? I felt focused, rested and happy. It’s the first time in a long time that I turned off all other distractions and was fully present in the moment. I can’t remember the last time I did this, can you?

On a sunny day, I feel like I need to be outside walking, running or at the park with Holden. I feel guilty making him play inside when I know all too soon winter weather will come rolling in and we’ll be locked up for months. Even when we’re inside during naptime, the blue skies inspire me to tackle work projects and chores at a dizzying pace. In the afternoon we’re on the go again, running errands or back to the park. And after dinner? You guessed it; we get outside as a family! I’m proud of my active lifestyle that has allowed me to accomplish all that I have, but even hybrid moms need to idle every so often.

On a rainy day, we move slower. There’s no rush to get to the park; it’s not even an option. Naps seem to last a little longer and watching more television than usual is completely acceptable. If errands can wait, they do. Getting toddler in and out of a car seat is even more of a miserable chore when rain is pounding on your back. Maybe best of all, without the sun shining through the windows, I don’t notice the little finger prints that should be cleaned off as well as every other surface you can imagine. It all waits and we rest.

I don’t take for granted that the “sunny” days, when I feel energized and productive, will always be around – so I make the most of them! But I no longer dread the “rainy” days that serve an equally important purpose. These days revitalize my soul and force me to slow down long enough to appreciate the need for balance. The weather is a funny thing; somehow it knows exactly what we need even when we do not.

What purpose do rainy days serve for you? Share how you have found balance in your daily life!

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Life

 

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Moment versus Momentum: Learning to Harness Fleeting Inspiration

Momentum Newton's BallsWhile pursuing a career in the uncharted territory of entrepreneurship, I frequently encounter other entrepreneurs along my journey. Some are decades ahead of where I am (and hope to be) and others are merely minutes into their decision to take the leap. Among this group of individuals, the veteran entrepreneurs always seem to have at least one quality in common regardless of industry or age—they have momentum. For the greener entrepreneurs, I struggle to access whether they possess this same momentum or whether their inspiration is merely a fleeting moment. The difference in the meaning of these two words – and the affect they have on the success or failure of a dream – is far more profound than two little letters. Rather this “um” holds the inspiration, the drive and the courage to turn a single moment into a momentous career.

Is your dream a mere moment or does it carry momentum?

Among your friends and acquaintances, think about those who you would consider a dreamer or an entrepreneurial spirit. Chances are you have a variety. These people are likely different, each with their own qualities that earn them a spot in this category. Now think about those in this group who have taken a goal or idea and are in the active process of taking it to the next level. Chances are this no longer applies to everyone you originally thought of. Maybe those that don’t fit this description more accurately fit the description of coming up with brilliant and creative ideas one day, but then you never hear or see anything more about it. This is the truest differentiation I can illustrate for you between moment and momentum. I, too, have contacts that I would consider entrepreneurs at heart, but this doesn’t mean every one of them has become a real life entrepreneur. Instead, there are those who think of innovative ideas all the time, but I’ve learned to not get too excited for they’re just having “a moment.” By the next month or even the next day, the big plan for a life change has already been forgotten as quickly as it was conceived.

How do we harness this moment of inspiration and turn it into momentum?

At the root of this problem are the differing qualities of each individual. Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur, just like not everyone is meant to be a doctor or a rocket scientist. We all have different strengths and for some, this is taking an idea from conception to completion. For others – this is a weakness. But just like how you were told when you were little that, “you can be anything you want when you grow up,” you CAN become an entrepreneur and find your inner momentum regardless of prior failed attempts. You have at least two options to better harness your moments of inspiration and turn them into something more substantial.

First, you can commit to making a personal effort to stop the bad habits that have led to loss of momentum in the past. This includes procrastination, lack of confidence, fear of hard work or fear of failure. Just as you would commit to quit smoking or lose weight, changing any existing habit takes energy and effort. Pick a single, well-defined goal and create a timeline of specific actions. When I knew I wanted to begin my own business, I defined all the steps I had to take to reach the point of leaving my former job. I knew I needed a functional web site, enough clients to pay the bills and to register myself as an official business with the government. And so I added these to my timeline and was specific in the actions I had to take to achieve them. Every day I would assign myself one immediate thing I could do to further this timeline, whether it was sending an email to a prospective client or creating a blog. These immediate action items prevented me from falling victim to procrastination or overwhelm because they kept me on track and made me feel accomplished each and every day. Over the course of a week and then a month, these actions ultimately came together to achieve my bigger goal. I still use this tactic when I’m in a phase of business growth.

If you’ve tried or are trying to change your habits to become a person of momentum, but it just isn’t picking up as quickly as you’d like – it might be time to consider the second option. You can team up with another person or group of people who will provide complimentary skills to help turn an idea into reality. Not every business is a sole proprietorship and that’s because sometimes working together is the only way to achieve a goal of a certain scope or size.  If you have an idea for a product, but have no knowledge or direction on where to start with manufacturing it; find a partner who can provide expertise and connections in this area. A partner or team will also keep you accountable to your ideas and actions. It’s not so easy to let a dream fade if the dream is shared by many different people.

In talking with even the most successful entrepreneur, I would be shocked to hear that they never once had a failed idea or fleeting inspiration prior to their current business. To find our true calling, we must allow our mind to wander as creatively as it chooses without feeling pressured to turn every idea into reality. But when you do dream up an idea that you can envision changing your world, or the world of many others, you must find a way to harness this inspiration and keep it moving. Sometimes all it takes to turn a moment into momentum is the willingness to change yourself or team up with others…and of course a little “um!”

people-say-that-motivation-doesnt-last

 
 

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The Work-Life Imbalance

Often I come across an article or a quiz asking me to examine my “work-life balance.” It’s a term we should have all encountered by now – whether in a magazine, an HR seminar, even in a casual dinner conversation. To nod your head and affirm, “Of course, I have a great work-life balance,” carries a sense of pride as if you’re really saying “Yeah, I’ve got it all together.” But what defines a work-life balance? Must the parts always be equal to keep the scales from tipping too far in one direction?

We spend the majority of our waking hours working in some capacity. In the best case scenario, only 40 hours of our week is spent in a formal work environment, but what about all of those evening and weekend emails, phone calls and “emergency projects” that cut into the little time we’re already given for “life?” Such tasks sneak extra weight onto the “work” side of the scale and can lead to an imbalance we don’t even know exists.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken more notice to how I’ve been chipping away at my free time by choosing to do a several minutes of work-related tasks here and there. Even just a few minutes can turn into hours over the course of a week. For example, I try to finish up my last work project of the day no later than 6pm. But while I enjoy dinner and a little bit of television, my mind is still very much on work. If I hear the chirp of an email – I answer it. And so this persists throughout the evenings and into the weekends. My best estimate is that on average, I burden myself with an additional 7-10 hours of work each week beyond what’s expected or demanded. When all added up, that’s a full day! A day in which I could have taken a road trip, enjoyed the beautiful fall weather or simply decompressed. And while these off-hour emails may help progress work, they put a major halt on life.

Back when I wrote about The Two-Day Truce, I urged everyone to resist the urge to do unnecessary work on the weekends because it only causes the recipients of the emails to feel the pressure to respond. Essentially it takes away from everyone’s weekend. I have gotten better about not being a weekend warrior with work, but I realized an even bigger problem. We’re so trained to work, we do it without even knowing it. Consciously we may feel like we’re living a pretty balanced life, but really our scales are so off kilter they’re nearly falling over altogether.

I couldn’t tell you how many times a day I check my phone for new emails, especially after “work hours.” I’m not sure I would want to know. By proactively checking for emails and refreshing my inbox, I’m looking for work to do instead of enjoying that other component that should fill our time – life. A true Work-Life Balance is so much more than saying you leave your office or close your laptop at 6pm. Chances are we’re very accessible to work during any of the hours in between. But when we’re at work are we this accessible to life? Every week’s schedule is different and there’s no doubt that there will be some weeks that demand an imbalanced share of our time for work. The key is to find the balance not every day or every week, but over the long run.

The Work-Life Balance may not be so much about balance after all. Maybe it’s more about flexibility and our openness to work more when we absolutely have to, but to also seize extra moments of “life” when the opportunity should arise. If you can’t close down by 6pm tonight, don’t sweat it, but plan for some extra relaxing time in your schedule later this weekend to make up for the difference and realign the balance!

What about you. Is your work-life balanced…flexible…or somewhat of both?

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Business & Success, Life

 

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I’m an “I”—Understanding the Inner Workings of an Introvert

One week ago, I would have considered myself an outgoing, social extrovert…but that was before I saw the results of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to this highly regarded test, I’m quite an introvert. Should this really come as a surprise to me? I mean, I did choose a career in which I work by myself 90% of the time. I hate talking on the phone, often answering voice mails with emails. And I only check-in with my own family about once a week. Yet, there are so many ways to identify someone as an introvert that are far more common and far less socially awkward than what the generalizations would have you believe. We’re not all hermits, we aren’t necessarily shy and we can still be the life of the party. So what really does define an introvert? I can only speak for myself and am by no means a psychologist, but these are some of my own qualities which may help explain why Myers-Briggs calls me an “I.”

I get my energy from being alone. This took me the first 20 years of my life to really identify. I couldn’t figure out why I would go to a party, have a great time, but after so many hours – like the flip of a switch – feel an even greater desire to go home. I’m very much a social person and enjoy interacting with people, but as an introvert, it requires a great deal of my energy. Once this energy is depleted, I want nothing more than to be some place familiar and alone. I need to decompress. Because both my office and my work schedule are flexible, I recharge during the day and appear much like a social extrovert when I’m with family and friends in the evening. The only time I ever really notice my need for downtime is when I don’t get enough. It’s not that I can’t function when this happens, I just might be a little less energetic and a little quieter.

It might be ridiculous to consider a cat a close friend, but with a face like this who could resist?

I have a few, very close friends. In both relationship and proximity, my “closest” friends are Scott and my cat Pinot…compounded by the fact we all live together. Rather than having many broad friendships, I prefer to put my energy into fewer, but deeper ones. Who I’m closest with at any given time may vary, but my number of close friendships remains fairly consistent. One of the most difficult aspects of being an introvert is that I don’t have a need to be around other people. That’s not to say I don’t like people, but I just don’t need to have daily social interaction to thrive. Because of this, I can go weeks, months even years without seeing someone who I consider a really close friend. To me, closeness isn’t dependent upon frequency of seeing each other, but to my friend – especially one who is an extrovert – this may make the relationship feel distant and out of touch. This is something I’m trying to make a better effort to overcome.

When I spend time with someone, I like it to be substantial. Closely linked to my statement above, when I do set aside time to be with someone, I like it to be for several hours, if not more. It’s not in my personality to “drop by just to say hi” or “swing by for a quick drink.” If I’m taking the time to get ready and go somewhere, I want to stay for more than a few minutes. For the longest time, I envied people who could just casually hang-out with friends, watching TV, going shopping, picking up a bite to eat. They made it look easy when everything I pulled together had to be so structured and formal. I now realize that as an introvert, I’m not inclined to casually hang out because for me it’s an energy loss not an energy gain. So when I do spend time with someone I like it to be substantial because it’s not likely to happen as frequently as it does for an extrovert.

I’m more thought-oriented than action-oriented. Another way to put this is that I do most of my living internally or mentally. I thrive in a work environment that’s completely serene – no people, no noise, no artificial light. I’ve been told this is unrealistic and like working in a vacuum. I don’t disagree; it’s just how I work most effectively. I can and have worked in other environments that were quite the opposite. I still accomplished my tasks, but I never felt like I was working as efficiently as I could if I were alone. Another good example of these differences is to ask someone what they like to do on vacation – a time often dedicated to relaxation. An extrovert might enjoy sight-seeing, exploring the social nightlife or taking part in a lot of activities like surfing or jet skiing. For me, a relaxing vacation is a book and the beach with plenty of personal space and no agenda. By the 5th day, sure I’m starting to crave some excitement and that’s the point. When I come back from vacation I’m completely recharged and ready to tackle whatever life has in store.

The bottom-line: My experience of better understanding my own personality through Myers-Briggs has also given me a better understanding of the personalities of those around me. I’m now able to see that many of my frustrations with someone often stems from us not understanding or respecting each others’ personalities and why we can both experience the same situation, but process it differently. You would think I would have understood the “everyone’s different” concept long before last week – and I thought I did – but there’s so much more to it than that.  Rational behavior and right answers are completely subjective to each individual person and how they would handle a situation. The goal should not be to make someone believe your viewpoint, it should be to meet them halfway.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Life

 

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