Have you ever felt that your introverted personality type might be holding you back from taking on bigger challenges or from living up to your true potential?
If so, you’re not alone.
We generally find growth outside of our comfort zone, but for many of us, as introverts, our comfort zone is inside of ourselves.
Our internal landscape is very active, but externally we tend to hold back.
Stretching outwardly to find success can be daunting as this type of growth often includes dealing with social situations.
These encounters can quickly drain your energy if you are unprepared.
In the workplace, extroverts are more visible because of their sociable nature and as a result they are often the first ones considered for leadership positions.
According to a recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review, 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership.
These execs often didn’t recognize the hidden advantages of quieter professionals.
The introvert growth path is an important balance between becoming visible in order to showcase performance and finding solitude to recharge energy.
Here are some strategies you can use to leverage your introversion and face challenges with confidence:
1. Plan ahead
Prepare as thoroughly as possible.
Plan accordingly if you are facing a required but uncomfortable situation that will cause you to stretch.
Client presentations, conferences, business meetings, and networking events may drain your energy so plan on how you can conserve and allocate your energy.
Consider the logistics. When will you arrive and leave. Will you attend functions before or after the main event? Who, specifically, will you aim to connect with?
Determine how you might preview details ahead of schedule. Obtain the agenda ahead of time. Read about the topics that are going to be discussed.
Identify others who might be at the event. Tap into your strength of building 1:1 connections to create rapport with key people in your organization.
2. Play to your strengths in order to engage
As you master self-awareness, you will discover areas that highlight your capabilities.
Identify your strengths and leverage these to engage with others in your workplace.
If you are analytical, showcase this trait and provide helpful insights on key reports and projects that will benefit others and the organization as a whole.
If you enjoy innovation, compile a list of ideas that you can pitch to leadership.
This effort can create opportunities or catapult you to be involved with a project that will stretch and challenge you.
Introverts often make great listeners. Utilize this strength to actively listen, understand, and determine the motivations of your team.
This will allow you to identify how you can add value and contribute in meaningful ways.
3. Showcase your performance
Most introverts would prefer that their work speak for itself.
We’d like our performance to be recognized for its merits rather than requiring us to self-promote or talk about ourselves and our work.
However, sometimes this is not enough. Many leaders do not have the time to be in touch with every project or its individual contributors.
You’ll need to get their attention and let them know about your results and performance.
Develop a strategy to clearly communicate your performance to leadership.
Planning is your key to success here too. Take some time to determine your approach.
4. Face your fears and take that step
It’s been said that fear is an illusion. You may have heard it described as an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.
If that idea resonates with you, it’s a great tool to remember.
Take that step to grow beyond current perceived limitations and rise to the challenge of whatever is holding you back.
By facing your fears and stepping outside your comfort zone you will evolve more quickly to your full potential.
Consider writing about your fear. Grab a journal or notebook and a pen or pencil and just start writing.
Write non-stop for fifteen minutes. Don’t edit. Just write.
Sometimes getting these thoughts and ideas our of your head and onto paper is enough to help dissipate your feelings of fear or anxiety so that you can take action.
5. Plan your solitary time
Are you aware that you need to recharge as an introvert?
Without making time to recharge, you likely will not succeed.
Instead, you’ll face burnout and even adrenal fatigue.
Know yourself well enough so that you can pinpoint which activities drain you and which ones recharge you.
Plan your work in such a way that you maximize your energy.
Protect your space and solitary time so that you can still connect and collaborate with people regularly and effectively.
Find the balance. Carefully plan your work environment so that you are expanding your capabilities while you are making meaningful connections.
Take action now to build yourself up strategically.
In a noisy world filled with distractions, your quiet strength and laser-like focus will break through artificial boundaries and expand your comfort zone day by day. Note your progress.
Be patient, play to your unique strengths, and own your power!