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On the reading list

Michigan Blue Sky
Michigan Blue Sky (Photo credit: alexis22578)

Rereading Strengths Based Leadership, skimming through why it’s important to lead with trust, compassion, stability, and hope. This was recommended by a former co-worker.

I’m about half way through Wire to Wire a novel by a board member with my paying employer. It takes place in Michigan. It’s a dark look at my home state. I want to say, “Not the Michigan I grew up in!” But, I can’t put it down. I’m falling in love with the betrodden character, and I’m sensing the dark ending with the hinted foreshadowing. What’s strangest is that this author is an acquaintance. I wonder if it’d be like meeting Stephen King. A mild-mannered man with these dark creations at his finger tips…

Next on the shelf is The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift. A co-worker had this book on his desk. One day, I had to leave him a note – not something I normally do. I couldn’t help but pick it up. I asked if I could borrow it. I now have my own copy. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s on the shelf. Given that sustainability is my main area of focus…

Another co-worker (sensing a trend here?) linked a snapshot of this book (The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards: A 59-Minute Guide to Assuring Your Organization’s Future). I found the snapshot very intriguing, as habit building always seems like good sense to me. It was a little spendier than I normally put out, especially for something that is supposed to take an hour to read. But, I like the logic thus far. I am hoping to apply the themes to all three organizations where I spend my time.

For continued self-discovery, I’ve got The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World on hand. I’ve actually left this one at work. It seems I work amidst a lot of introverts. Our office, I think is 75% introvert. This surprised me as I collected the responses from my informal poll. I sort of imagine the world divvying itself up neatly more or less 50/50. But, we also have a staff that is composed mostly of women. Not all the women are introverts.

I have a series of Facilitation books that I am skimming and rereading. I bought them a few weeks ago. I need to adjust the budget to allow for a book allowance.

Next up, on the shelf but not read:

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t read more. I schedule in time for certain “shows”. I know why though. Some days, my brain just needs to watch pretty pictures flash across a screen. My bedtime reading usually lasts about 10 minutes before I’m out, like a light.

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Deliberative

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 said I’m deliberative. It was actually the last of my top five strengths. But, it’s the one I pride the most.

Always, I have been told that I am a good listener and that I give good counsel. This has fluctuated over the years, and finally, after 34 years of living, I’m starting to see the pattern.

You see, I’m also an introvert. I didn’t really know what that meant either until less than a decade ago. And, as I continue to grow up into my 30s, I become more self-aware. Thankfully, I think, I am learning something.

So, what am I learning?

I am learning that I don’t like to work in fast paced environments. I used to enjoy the periodic thrill, for example, of checking in a group of 200-500, then resting, sorting through the chaos and making order of it all. I used to think that fast paced strengthened my skills in multi-tasking. Somewhere along the way, as society has learned this too, I realized that there is no such thing as multi-tasking for the human brain. Sure, I hold many things in tandem, but I can only do one thing at a time. So, while I may pause to answer the phone, then go back to the document I was editing, I’m really only doing one thing at a time. What’s more, I realized that the more I focus on the one thing at a time, the better I do at it.

Sure, there is something to be said for diversifying projects. I enjoy how multiple projects overlay and give new ideas and creativity to each other. But, when you tip the balance too far into the multi-tasking “over kill range”, you lose focus on all.

I am deliberative. I enjoy having time to take that pause. I enjoy having the time to process all those inputs and think about all those lessons I’m supposed to be learning. I love thinking (intellection was my #2 strength) and pondering how they wrap around my beliefs.

But, I must have time to do that. And, fast paced environments seldom lend themselves to the time to simply sit and think. I do my best work when I can think. That’s why it’s so important for me to write every day (yes, I know, I haven’t been).

A friend asked me how I keep my vision in tandem with the chaos that presents itself daily. This was in reference to a group we are working with, together. I told her, frankly, it’s because I don’t have to work with everyone, every day, 8 hours a day. I get that much-needed, introvert needed, break. I refresh, sometimes monthly from the chaos. I refresh, I think, I ponder. I pause. I reflect. I deliberate.

So, what am I doing then if a fast paced environment with frequent interruptions is not for me? Because, clearly, in some avenues in my life — I am in the wrong space.

When I think of these things together, I see that I should be doing project based contract work. Yet, my skills in a desired contract environment aren’t up to snuff where I’d feel comfortable charging for their use. A friend suggested building a client list and offer my services pro bono with the caveat that these clients should write a letter of recommendation. But, this takes time, and I’m also impatient.

I know. I need to summon my patience. Isn’t that what my major lesson was from the housing crash of 2008? Be patient, I hear Mister Miyagi intone to Daniel. Be patient, I hear him croon while other endeavors create, slowly, as they should.

Oh right. I should be patient, while I deliberate. Because as I patiently think about this, the answers will come.

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Quiet Please

Carl Jung integrated psychology with spirituality
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So, a world created by extroverts? Marti Olsen Laney’s claim is that the world is 75% full of extroverts and that introverts have a challenging time functioning in this out there world. In a recent book, Susan Cain explores how our extroverted world came to be with the rise of our corporate culture. With this rise, an “out there” personality became the needed norm, perhaps even for survival. But, where does that leave the naturally quiet? Where does it leave those who naturally live in a world that is largely composed of thought? Cain presumably argues in her new book that we’ve [simply] become out of balance.

I am a self-proclaimed introvert. As such, I like observing. For example, often, while I’m on the bus, I simply see all the personalities with whom I share space. And in the midst of this observation, I can see how the extroverted world is being put to the test. I can see how the extroverted world is being pushed away and forced aside. What happens on a bus that supports my argument? Let me show you.

  • One day, I counted 3 of 4 headphones on one last surge of people getting on the bus.
  • No one is speaks to each other. They all take part in the proper bus etiquette. This has likely happened for years. Perhaps the bus is one of those sacrosanct spaces that the extroverted world will never touch.
  • Usually, half of those in my view have their heads down engaged in some activity: reading, using their smart phone, texting, listening to music, or occasionally writing a handwritten note.
  • If I enter a crowded bus, I usually don’t even know what my seat partner looks like until they have to get up and move in my way. I also often don’t see people I know when they board the bus – lost in my world.

I’ve heard two decent definitions of introverts and extroverts. The first definition usually referenced has to do with where one gets their energy. That is, if you get your energy with other people than you are likely an extrovert. Conversely, if you get your energy, for example, in the woods, alone, you are likely an introvert. Cain offered another definition that relies on environmental preferences. If you prefer quiet, low stimulant environments, then likely you are an introvert. If you prefer an environment ripe with stimulation, like a party, than you might be an extrovert. Every author qualifies these definitions with a spectrum description stating that no one person is all one thing or another. Cain even referenced a Carl Jung quote, the psychologist and thinker who first defined introverts and extroverts, as saying that anyone who is all one or another should probably find themselves a home in an asylum.

While I’ve been processing this pattern, I bounced a few ideas off a friend. I argued to her that maybe the world is more 50% of each. She didn’t feel that the world split itself so evenly, and I’d have to agree. I think the simple answer is Cain’s – that pendulum is likely righting itself. And, I’m seeing a select, dramatic swing on things like my bus rides where it seems introvert dominated.

Growing up, I didn’t know I was an introvert. I was labeled things like shy. I knew I hated raising my hand in class. I would rather be quiet. But, I don’t bemoan any misguided raising I may have experienced. I think it’s great coaching for anyone to know thyself and learn to speak their mind. I think it’s especially important for us quiet introverts to find that courage because we do have a world of thoughts spinning. And often, I just want the extroverts to stop talking so we can speak, uninterrupted. That said, I love all this literature talking about introverts. I love that the pendulum is swinging and my people are given a safe space to … be quiet.

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Saturday Night

I realized something the other day. I don’t like writing when I’m sick.

I’ve had a cold for a few days. The timing is ironic as I’m scheduled to read at church and we just had a steering committee meeting. Although, last time, early December, my sinus-infection-thing was much more debilitating than this cold. (Wine)

So, I’ve missed writing. I like picking a part my day, no matter if it’s mundane to you (my dear reader). It’s a great way for this introvert to process. Which is a great segue to something I’ve been thinking over.

People are surprised that I am an introvert. First, I didn’t really know the difference between introverts and extroverts until I was first introduced to an informal Meyers-Briggs test around 2003 or 2004. I always test as an Introvert, but where along the spectrum varies. I’ve never tested as an “extreme” introvert like my husband. Over the years, I have learned to not be afraid in crowds, like I was when I was a kid. I have learned that “no” isnt’ that scary, and it’s okay to approach people. As such, I’ve been known to start conversations, approach strangers with a smile, and even engage in “small talk.” I think these are things people witness that make them respond with shock and awe when I say, “I am an introvert.”

But, I am an introvert. Introvert, defined as needing refresh time alone. A co-worker said she gets her energy from her alone time, in the woods. I don’t need to be in the woods, but alone in a cafe, observing and not talking will sometimes suffice. Reading in bed, without talking, works too. Writing, though, that’s where I really process. The space where I can digest all my thoughts. The space where I can make sense of some of the nonsense in my head. The space where I can take my own rampant speculation and clarify it.

The Introvert Advantage claims that the world is only 25% full of introverts. I thought I recall a description of Meyers-Briggs that explained the world in halves. More or less, half of the world was introverted (extroverted), intuitive (sensing), feeling (thinking), judging (perceiving). So, I’ve been taking an informal poll at work. I’ve asked at least half those I work with, and only two are extroverts. Either my place of employment is rare (likely) or the world is full of more introverts than we realize (also likely in my opinion).

So, I’ve been grouchy lately. I told my mother once that I need 6 hours of alone time a day. She said figure out how to work around it because it’s likely not going to happen. The point is, I need a lot. And, I haven’t been getting it. As a worker bee, a mother, a wife, knowledge bearer in a club, friend, sister — there are demands of my time. I don’t always recognzie that when I say yes to something I am often saying “no” to my refresh time. So, I haven’t been getting my refresh time, and it’s been showing. And being sick, sure things have been quiet, but I haven’t been processing.

Here’s to writing and processing. May the tradition continue.

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