Convincing Your Natural Personality Otherwise

I was always a fairly shy and introverted kid. It has taken years of focused effort to break out of my shell be “comfortable” (and I use that word loosely… acceptance is probably more like it) in settings where I’ll be networking with new people, or heaven forbid, that I may have to speak in a group. This includes just standing up and saying who I am and where I work, believe it or not.

You can imagine the thought of joining a professional organization excited me just about as much as the flu. I’m much more comfortable when I’m deep into a project, hardly leaving my chair except when it’s absolutely necessary. That’s not to say I don’t love visiting with people; it’s one of my favorite things. Being in a room full of people I hardly know is something else entirely. Sometimes I think we, as people, have a tendency to lean on our “natural personalities” too much and use our personalities and “how we’re wired” type of phrases as a crutch to lean on or as a wall to protect us from changing. Growth is the opposite of this phenomenon. Healthy growth takes into account our nuanced personalities and wiring while asking us to lay down our weapons and consider an alternative path – or in my case, lay down my introverted sword and ask me to get more involved with my community, even if it means talking to a bunch of people I hardly know.

So, yesterday marked the first day in months that I took time out of my (typically busy) schedule to attend a service club meeting over lunch. It was honestly a welcomed change from the normal daily grind, and there’s something fulfilling about participating in something that gives back to the community. I found a healthy sense of camaraderie, the intrinsic networking element, and perhaps most importantly, a wonderful philanthropic outlet. Despite my introverted nature, today’s meeting continued to show me that if I can just push beyond my comfort zone, this adds much needed balance to my life, both professionally and personally. I’m certainly going to make this a regular part of my weekly routine.

I’ve come to learn when we push beyond our limitations, usually enforced by ourselves - not others, the results are incredible. We garner more respect, become more innovative, continue learning, and encourage others to want to grow too. Even if you’re not currently involved or looking to participate in a local service organization (Exchange Club and Rotary are a few examples; there are many reputable options), I’d encourage you to consider it. Most of them won’t force you to commit to any more time than you can willingly afford, and the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.


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