What do you think it means to be an “introvert”? Does your mind automatically leap to words such as shy, timid or antisocial?
Would it surprise you to know that there is a woman famed for being an “excitable introvert”, and that she’s out to help introverted women of colour share their version of awesome, and to be seen, heard and respected?!
Global bestselling author Jacqueline Shaulis has written 23 books and she is a mentor to Fortune 500 executives.
The fact that she is also a successful global speaker threw me; it’s not what I would expect from an “introvert”, so I was thrilled to chat to Jacqueline on the Goals Do Come True podcast recently and find out how this all came together.
Reframing the meaning of introvert
The first thing I wanted to know was why Jacqueline wanted to be a speaker if she is an introvert. It turned out my definition of introvert needed an update! Perhaps yours does too?
Jacqueline: “Most people think of introvert as meaning someone who’s shy, quiet, antisocial or doesn’t like being around people, and that might be true for some people, but that’s not what makes them introverted.
In any conversation, an introvert is hearing what is being said but they’re also thinking about what the words mean. They’re taking in body language. They’ll be wondering if they should respond and how they should respond. They’re wondering how other people might be responding when they hear what’s being said, and they’re wondering if they should rethink what they’ve been doing until now. They’re doing all of this simultaneously and it happens with every interaction.
Can you imagine the kind of circus that I just described, going on with each interaction you had with someone? It depletes energy, and so it becomes important for us, first of all, as we’re taking on all of the stimulation, to then back away from these stimulating events, so we can sort through what all of this even means. Introversion is about how we process information rather than a fixed personality type.”
I’d never spent a great deal of time considering that introversion might be more about how people process stimuli, but it encouraged me to reflect on how I function in the world. I don’t mind making a fool of myself on stage or presenting to hundreds of people, but I also enjoy being in complete silence taking it all in. Occasionally I might even feel a bit shy!
Those two extremes feel like a contradiction. Jacqueline explained that people are rarely 100% introverted or extroverted, they’ll be shades of each along the way.
Setting goals as an introvert
I wondered how hard it was for Jacqueline to stay congruent to who she is and her life goals (speaker, author, traveller), because they might be considered too stimulating for an introvert.
She shared a fantastic insight.
Jacqueline: “Introversion doesn’t mean you have to choose between honouring yourself or being successful. You honour yourself by being successful. First of all you have to recognise how you process information, and then use that to your advantage in your zone of genius.
I have no problem engaging with people, but I also need to just have time to literally stand statue still and watch the world pass by. I’m observing and taking in so much information without needing to overtly engage, and yet I am still engaging in my own way!
When I speak on stage, I have firm boundaries around how and when people can engage with me afterwards. I need to be quiet and take time to recharge. When you explain who you are and how people can best engage with you, they begin to understand.”
The origin of the goal
I could understand why Jacqueline felt so passionate about changing the face of what it means to be introverted. I wanted to know how this goal came about.
Jacqueline: “Usually I love to have a vision around what I want to accomplish, then take action towards it. I knew early on I was going to be a speaker, a writer, and that I would travel the world. I was that ‘off-centre kid’ who wanted to be a ‘New York Times’ bestselling author, even though there was nothing in my environment to point me in that direction.
But I was surrounded by challenges; I was being told, either you can be true to yourself as an introvert and not do these things, because what speaker is an introvert? What person on the stage is an introvert? Or I was told I couldn’t be true to myself in doing those things unless I was an extrovert. Neither of those scenarios felt true to me, so I decided to do it anyway and say yes to the opportunities.
I had my vision, I said yes to that vision of me, and I kept taking action towards my goal.”
Choosing the best strategies for success
Jacqueline mentioned that she had a vision of her goal. I wanted to know if she had any other tactics to help realise her goals.
Jacqueline: “I like to feel into my goal and discern what feels good as my next step. Sometimes I might want to stay comfortable and it feels right to play a little smaller, and other times when I need to make more progress and it scares me witless to take the next step if it’s out of my comfort zone, that also feels ok because it takes me closer to my goal.
As I make my way towards my goal, sometimes other goals arise too!
I didn’t set out to shift the perception of introversion. I started writing my book ‘Yes, Introverts Can’, and during my research I realised there was nothing on this topic [how introverts process information differently]. I decided I’d be the one to do it, so I started to do what I call SMART storming [SMART goals are so-called because they are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and completed within a set Time]. I set out my actions little by little, including who could help me along the way.
I see introversion as an invitation to live deeply and impact greatly.”
Talking to Jacqueline was a breath of fresh air and it got me thinking about life in a whole new way. As part of Jacqueline’s research she is looking for women who relate to what she’s shared about introversion and would be happy to share their experiences with her. You can contact her here.
And, if you’re working towards a big goal or have some goal-setting experiences you’d love to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.