I'm an introvert. But you say, "You're in PR. How can that be true?" I have successfully navigated my career as an introvert, but recently, it really struck home that being an introvert as an entrepreneur does have its constant challenges.
When my first book, From Unknown to Expert, was due to be distributed I had a intense urge to block the doorway and scream -- "These books aren't going anywhere!"
I went into free fall. All I could imagine was thousands of people turning their focus on to me. It was terrifying.
I've always been an introvert, and one of the biggest issues I've had to overcome is how to navigate being in an extroverted role without becoming overwhelmed by it.
The moment when it all changed
As an introvert having attention focused on you is challenging, and back in 2010 I decided to change a theme in my life I felt was holding me back.
There have been countless situations throughout my life which I ran away from because I had to stand in the spotlight. School head prefect, job promotions, speaking at conferences... so many. It was a theme in my life. And it was time to change it.
November 9, 2010, 6:30 p.m. was a pivotal moment in my personal history. I did my first professional public presentation.
At 6:00pm the room started filling up. People were full of expectation, wanting to learn about PR and social media. They came to hear me speak, to learn from me. I looked at my watch. It was 6:25. Do I run, or do I stay?
At 6:30 I walked up the stairs with the microphone in my hand, trying to not let my hands shake. I walked across the darkened stage and... into the spotlight.
There was absolute silence as the audience waited. I looked out to the crowd, took a breath and I began to speak.
And do you know what happened? I realized that I deserved to be in the spotlight. I wanted people to hear me speak. I wanted a voice that would carry across the room into the hearts and minds of the audience.
Do you know why? Because I had something to say. I had so many things to say.
What I had to say could change their businesses, could help them get more customers, build relationships with interesting people, help them build their profiles. What I had to say could do so many wonderful things for so many people.
It was the start of my journey to realizing being in the spotlight wasn't about me, it's about you - the audience.
Turning the focus
I'm still an introvert. That has not changed. However I've learnt being in the spotlight as a recognized expert is much bigger than simply being in the spotlight.
I now know the more we share our ideas, opinions and expertise, the more we are making the world a better place.
I still challenge myself too. I find live TV scary! When I do live TV I think of the people watching. I think about how my expertise and knowledge is real. It's earned. And it needs to be shared because I have something to say.
The classic introvert gets energy not from other people, but by being alone. There are weeks where my energy will be zapped by hundreds of people. I love the adrenalin and the sharing, but I know I need to go sit on my rock.
I live near the ocean, and I have a rock that I sit on that connects me with nature and just distills my energy. It's the perfect circuit breaker.
Listening not talking
I've built my business through relationships. As an introvert, we are fantastic networkers and relationship builders.
Introverts are great at getting people talking (so we don't have to do the talking ourselves). This skill is also very effective in sales situations. Listening will get you many more sales than talking.
Ignoring the red notifications
Introverts are quiet people in a noisy world, and you can't get much noisier than social media. Social media is my bread and butter, and I love it.
But as the little red notification sign pops up on Facebook it means I'm getting zapped. It's useful to turn off social media sometimes, or at least acknowledge how it's impacting your energy and sense of self.
Taking the time to meditate
Mediation is all about introverting. The practice is about being in the moment and focusing on just one thing -- breath, mantra or even a candle flame. It's about removing distraction and allowing thoughts to come and go, but to not think at all.
While being an introvert does have it challenges, as the saying goes... it's the quiet ones you have to watch.