“Does he ever stop?”
“Think before you speak!”
I have heard these phrases, and more like them, all my life. I am and always have been a 100-mile-an-hour, 2000% Extrovert. Complete exhaustion never stopped me from wanting to party and thinking that going to sleep is a waste of time. I am a nightmare for the deep Introvert – overwhelming them in minutes and often blind to the traumatic effects of my energy.
And then and I got older… had kids… got busy… found I had less and less time… and suddenly this reflective, still Introvert has started turning up.
From extrovert to introvert?
Recently, I was in a European city on a three-day sales training course with a great bunch of delegates. We were having a lot of fun together and the talk of where we were all going for dinner started. Being an inclusive bunch, they were determined to include me in their plans. To my horror, I heard this quiet inner voice telling me I needed time to wind down on my own. What? On my own? How could I ignore this group of lovely people?
And then their Manager took me aside, looked me in the eye and said “David, we’ve had a great day today and the guys would love you to join us tonight, but I’ve been in your shoes myself and after leading the training all day, I would want to go round the corner to a restaurant and have a cold beer and some sushi on my own.”
What a guy! I loved my recharging time.
When it comes to psychometrics such as Insights, DiSC, MBTI and others, there is as much opposition (“don’t put me in a box”) as there is inspiration (“that is so me!”). I’ve never had a problem with any of them as they all, as far as I know, state very clearly that the lines are blurred; it’s a continuum, we are complex combinations of all things, etc. However, models aside, I am always interested in the states or behaviours which I see as unusual or for me, or are difficult.
Stepping into strange shoes for insight
Many years ago when I was at drama school, a tutor gave us an interesting exercise. He invited us to pick a good friend of ours who was different to us. He then asked us to sit in silence for five minutes thinking about that person – how they moved, talked, looked, what they liked to do… anything about them that was typical. He then asked us to go out into street and spend 20 minutes as them. Do what you think they would do, as you think they would do it, if that person had 20 minutes of free time.
It was amazing. It was like wearing a mask, a disguise, behind which I was able to behave (appropriately!) in a totally different way. It was strange at first but more and more it became really fascinating, revealing and ultimately liberating.
Of course, I hadn’t just become my good friend. I had used my imitation of him to release what I already have, but don’t use as often.
This kind of “fake it till you make it”, or physical mimicry, helps you connect with emotional flexibility.
Try it. Remember it. Use it!
Managing Director, Sun and Moon Training