From feeling broken to being strong

Melanie grew in many ways in the last 20 years at her company. But her growth in the last year, and particularly the last six months was, to quote her, “beyond description”.

When I met Melanie, she was polite, reserved, obviously talented with a list of accomplishments in her bio. Throughout the time I have been her mentor, she has been quite candid and open.

During one of our conversations, she mentioned hearing the word “Introvert” all her life but “never really knew what it meant” until we started discussing it. Her thinking expanded when she learned the real distinction between Introverts and Extraverts is how they re-energize. She realized her deep need for quiet time at the end of a long day or week is natural, it’s what Introverts do to be at their best. She described her optimal re-energizing time as sitting on her back patio with a book, her journal and her dog. No noise. The breeze flowing around her. Nature her only distraction. There she truly exhales.

When we talked about Introverts having all types of personalities and flexing their style naturally, she reflected on the fact that she had a more expressive side that stayed hidden. She experimented with expressing her thoughts and perspectives more freely when talking with higher-ups and noticed it made a difference. She found she was apt to gain approval for projects and action because her thoughts and motivations were better understood. She enjoyed the difference being more “colorful” and candid was making.

“If I know the audience or the objective … I tend to take a deep breath and purposely try to be vulnerable and open up who I am deep inside,” she said.

Her leader encouraged her to try these same techniques with her own team. Melanie had been more “professional” with her team because she believed that was the way to earn respect as a senior leader. When she opened up more, told them what she was thinking and why, they opened up, too. Now, their communication is better than ever. And she’s having more fun being her true self.

Recently I interviewed her as part of my 100 Quiet Leader project. She said, “I used to feel broken, like there was something wrong with me.” She didn’t think anyone else was like her. Now when she is asked to introduce herself, Melanie readily says she is an Introvert and what it means to her. “Once you self-discover that you are an Introvert, give it a big hug because it can help you be tremendously successful. Nothing is wrong – what you have is something priceless.”

Knowing and accepting herself at this elevated level has changed her life.

Share Button