The Extroverted Introvert

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For many years, I struggled to understand my persona. Sometimes, I am the life of the party -loud and easily strike a connection with others regardless of age, sex and/or social status whilst the other times, I am in my own shell – quiet, reserved and dull. Initially, I thought it was an ego problem – too much pride or lack of confidence. I have had people describe me as condescending, obnoxious, snub, proud, weak, naïve and/or unhappy so it is easy to see why that train of thought engulfed me.

I do enjoy conversing with people because I was made to understand, at a young age, that social interaction is the basis of human nature. However, I also like to detach myself from the picture once in a while and analyze what I see. This often makes me see what I do not want to see – things that people don’t say -via the look in their eyes, body language and/or their tone of voice.

I have accepted that this is the way I am…outgoing yet withdrawn hence it is safe to say that I am an extroverted introvert. People often say it is impossible for one to sit on the fence in matters; you are either here or there but I am comfortably seated on the fence here. And there are many people out there just like me. Unexpectedly, we are often misconstrued.

Not to worry, I am here to rid you of such confusion by giving you an insight into the life of an extroverted introvert.

1. If we like you, we really like you. There’s hardly an in-between because we are so picky with who we spend our energy and time on. This doesn’t mean that we are full of ourselves or condescending. Nah! we just don’t see the need of being with someone we don’t like.

2. For what it is worth, we have a lot of things to talk about but we are not sure if those things will interest you. We can spend time listening to you talk because we are keen to learn about you. And we know most people like the sound of their voices.

3.  Just because we like our own space doesn’t mean that we don’t get lonely. We like being out there, around people, even if they are strangers as far as we can still keep to ourselves because sometimes we just don’t want to talk. We prefer to live in our heads and observe every little detail.

4. We are not advocates of small talks but if small talk is your forte, we will gladly oblige. We prefer to understand what makes you, you – how you think, what you think about, what scares/motivates you, what your family is like etc. We like to know if you have eaten too.

5. We prefer to have a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation than in a group because this is more intimate and gives us the chance to listen to you talk. As a result, we find it easy to adapt to any situation and get along with people from all walks of life. However, maintaining those friendships or getting closer to people is another thing altogether.

6. Because we genuinely try to get to know people on another level, we are often misconstrued as flirty and provocative. Maybe we are.

7. Because we are self-aware – outgoing yet calculated -people tend to see us as leaders. We are not afraid to take the bold step, make hard decisions or stand up to talk in front of others. Funnily, we rarely see ourselves this way and prefer to take the back seat because we don’t think we are great like that.

8. It is a constant struggle to control the introverted version of ourselves. We are fully aware when that spirit (of withdrawing into our own minds) is trying to overtake us, especially in groups and big crowds, but we can’t put up resistance against it.

9. We don’t have a particular group of friends. We pick them from different social groups and bring them all together. Sometimes, it is an awkward situation for them all. You poor things.

10. We want to be noticed and recognized for our efforts and at the same, prefer to stay anonymous. I know it sounds conflicting but that’s the way it is with us. Our fun/crazy side comes out more when we aren’t the center of attention.

So it is likely you have people like these around you. They are often versatile in every aspect of life so try and understand them. And if you think the crown fits, please wear it with pride.

Please if you enjoyed reading this blog, do comment and share with your friends.

How Sports Prepares You For Entrepreneurship Part 2/2

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…continued from last post

Focus
In my short life, I am yet to see anyone who has achieved massive success without zoning out people, forgoing pastimes and focusing inwardly. This helps one to understand his/her strengths as well as weaknesses and find a way to use them effectively and efficiently to neutralise the tactics of those he/she is up against. Sports teaches you how to “be in the zone” and close yourself off from distractions. If an athlete/player, whether amateur or professional, can maintain his focus, he has attained a certain level of maturity. As an enterpreneur, focus is important when starting a business. For one to be successful in business, one must stay focused on his/her vision/goal no matter how distracting things might get. And when success is achieved, a focused enterpreneur will have enough in his arsenal to fight laziness and complacency.

Teamwork
For every sports team to excel, the coaches and players need each other. Even athletes that participate in individual sports like tennis, athletics, golf etc need the help of their trainers, coaches and nutrionists to excel. Babe Ruth, the American Baseball legend, once said, “the way a team plays as a whole determines its sucess. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world but if you don’t play together the club won’t be worth a dime.” The same goes for enterpreneurship. You may have to do things alone to build your business from the scratch (start-up) but you need people to take it to the next level. Delegating some work to team members, who are hungry for success and take pride in their performance, affords you the time to focus on other things.

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Leadership
Participating in team sports gives one the chance to develop some leadership skills by captaining/coaching a group of players. As a result, an individual can acquire social and emotional intelligence, which are prerequisites in leadership. Hear Eddie Robinson, “Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.” It is important for an enterprenuer to be able to understand his social and emotional make up as well as that of people who are under his payroll. A good enterpreneur must have a healthy open line of communication with his workers. And also maintain eye contact whilst talking with them as this gives an impression of sincerity, honesty and confidence. It is easy to forget about the troubles of others but if one takes time to remember and ask, it goes a long way. People perform best when they know they’ve earned the trust of the leader.
 
Mentorship
There are so many talented individuals out there who have lost their way because they had no mentor/coach to guide them properly. One may be naturally skilled and talented but if the opportunities aren’t there or there’s no one to offer guidance, attaining success will be an illusion. Jamaican Sprinter, Usain Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football at a tender age but his cricket coach noticed his speed on the cricket pitch and encouraged him to try track and field events. Under the tutelage of Pablo McNeil, a former Olympic sprint athlete, Bolt was encouraged to focus his energy on improving his athletic abilities and the rest they say is history. The same happens in business, every rookie enterprenueur needs a mentor to guide and direct him inorder to achieve great success.

Attitude towards failure
Failure happens to us all in one way or another. Even the best falls down sometimes but what really matters is how you recover when you are down. It must be said that failure can be painful and hard to take; it demoralises some and makes them wallow in self-pity. However, it can also spur others to greater things. Former cyclist, Lance Armstrong, once said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” For an enterprenuer, failure can be a wonderful management tool as long as it doesn’t become a habit. When faced with failure, the entrepreneur tries to keep his head above the water and find ways to be successful. Bill Gates co-founded a failed startup called Traf-O-Data with Paul Allen when he was 17. Their failure later became a springboard to success; their next start-up, Microsoft, is currently the world’s largest PC software company.

The entrepreneurial race, just like life, is a marathon (sports) with hurdles here and there. Many startups fail – even those backed by a huge amount of venture funding – at the first hurdle. So participating in sports can equip an entrepreneur with indelible capabilities and skills required to motivate oneself and weather the storm until he/she crosses the finish line.