By Jill Harrison – NLP Trainer and Associate
Character preference, that is!
So what do you think? Is your character Introverted or Extroverted? And how does your preference influence you in the worlds of work, home and pleasure?
Carl Jung placed attention on the Introversion / Extroversion spectrum early in the 20th century. He suggested that, rather than having a pure polarity of one or the other, we each sit along a continuum, with a preference for Ambiversion somewhere in the middle. Jung proposed an Extrovert places attention on the outside world and the person appears outgoing and energetic, whereas an Introvert has a focus on the inside world of the self and veers towards more solitary and reserved behaviours.
So for many of us these preferences will then shape the career and development choices we make in life and in business. We play to our innate strengths.
So I am now left wondering why this (recently) self-confessed Introvert has made career and development choices that demand she is an energetic, fun and inspirational leader of group education sessions at work, and a bouncy fitness and zumba instructor in her spare time?
It was a lightbulb moment (I love those ephiphanies that set off a chain of thoughts and realisations) when, listening to a radio programme recently, my wandering thoughts filtered out a very simple incisive question that the presenter used to establish whether or not one’s preference is for Extroversion or Introversion:
“How do you like to re-charge your batteries?”
Now, if you like to party the night away, or feel completely energised around lots of people, your preference is…you guessed it…Extroversion.
And if your choice is to retreat to somewhere quiet, or immerse yourself in a good book, or perhaps spend quality time with one or two close people, then Introversion is your pattern.
So this very simple question blasted through my long held belief that I must be an Extrovert! I must be…I train groups…I jiggle around to Latin inspired music. Those things must mean I’m an Extrovert. Right?
Well no, it seems my long held assumption was wrong! And it is such a relief!
While my work and fitness roles may be typical of Extrovert behaviours, to me they are skills, they are not who I AM. Express that last sentence in a different way. I AM not an Extrovert, but I have learned the SKILLS of Extroversion in a number of contexts. And when my day is done, I need to re-charge my batteries with some quiet and a bit of head space (rather a challenge with children – one of whom is a teenaged drummer!).
To me, this distinction between who you are and what your skills are is a crucial one.
So should I now change what I do because of this revelation? Not at all. In fact, I intend to do more uncomfortable stuff and continue to age disgracefully! It is my belief that our innate character preferences (and Extroversion / Introversion is just just one labelled example of these) can often keep us within our comfort zones. And that unless we stretch ourselves and experience a degree of discomfort from time to time, we may become stagnant and miss out on some vital growth.
Not that I think we should attempt to be a square peg in a round hole. My caveat here is that any movement towards a stretch and personal growth will best serve you when it fits with who you are, what your purpose is and what you value most.
So go on, you’ve already asked yourself the question. What is your preference? Is yours an Inny or an Outy? How is this affecting your choices in life? And where could you benefit from a stretch – even if that means a bit of discomfort from time to time?
Who knows what talents you or your team might discover…?
To check out your preferences further, and for more information about new thinking around Introversion / Extroversion, follow the links below:
Ted Talk* (link below) The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain.
*TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or fewer).