I was that little girl who would hide behind her parent's legs, holding on to their pants, hoping not to be noticed. I wasn't just shy. I was PAINFULLY SHY.
In my teens, I decided that I needed to find a way to learn to be an extrovert. I started to realize that being good at math or a good writer were skills that would only get me so far. The real distance in my life would be achieved based on SELLING MYSELF. If I had an idea, I had to share it. If others thought my idea was crazy, that is ok. Embarrassment is not actually a terminal condition.
Over time, I learned that learning to be an extrovert was a skill I had to master. I am very glad that I did. I attribute that skill to one of the very reasons, I ended up married with 3 fantastic (and naturally shy) sons.
In the middle of May I decided that I needed to take the learning from my last job and market that skill set for small and medium businesses. By June 1, I had registered the business, and penciled down some goals. On July 7, I had a very profound aha moment.
The things I am saying to every lead....
The list of things that I am good at....
The reasons they need me to manage their accounting/bookkeeping so that they can manage their own business....
Each of the three items above, I only am comfortable saying and doing because I have successfully LEARNED TO BE AN EXTROVERT. Look at what happens when I finish the thoughts above:
The things I am saying to every lead, I say without any hesitation or worry about outcome.
The list of things that I am good at, I say confidently and with conviction.
The reasons they need me to manage their accounting/bookkeeping so that they can manage their own business, I say as if I believe it. Because I do believe it.
Being "shy" or "introverted" does not mean that we lack confidence. We know that we are smart. We are just not eager to self-promote. It seems, therefore, that the introverts of the world would not be leaders. Or entrepreneurs. I am here to tell you, that we may be the BEST leaders and the BEST entrepreneurs.
The shy people, as I have learned, all have inner extroverts in us (just like the very extroverted are capable of feeling shy). We use our quiet extroversion skills when we know that the timing is right. We don't tell you every idea we have ever had. But we tell you the BEST ideas we have had. We have thought it out. Planned it. Considered the alternatives.
The AHA moment I had on July 7 was that I have worked so hard to hone in on how and when to release my inner extrovert that now she is just there when she is needed. Early in my career, I would get feedback that I had to be a bigger contributor to meetings. But I have learned that listening is a skill that I excel in naturally. And now, I understand that when I do contribute, it is as someone who has heard when this potential client needs and I have structured an answer that shows my expertise and answers the need identified.
And when this idea from May is now only about 5 weeks old, I am having conversations with potential clients. And I know that in my conversations with them, they would not guess that I am a naturally, very shy (painfully shy) person. And this element of my entrepreneurial journey is critical. It was on this day in July that I realized I AM DOING IT. AND I AM DOING IT WELL.
For years, I thought that being shy was something to overcome. Today I realize that my quiet nature is part of my toolkit. It allows me to listen. To contemplate. To think through my decisions.
Today I know (really know - not just quoting what is in every leadership article and book) that I can do this. I can be successful. I have what it takes. Look out world. I am here!