How do introverts play trumpet?

Normally my writing has some sort of structure: emerging behaviour/technology/trend, how it works, what it means for you, what you should do about it.

This article is more of an open question to the industry, although it is still rooted in an emerging trend: the increased visibility of the introverted.

Not many would know I identify with introversion. The simplest definition I find is that extroverts take their energy from social situations, introverts are drained by them. I’d be amiss to generalise about introversion though – each individual is exactly that, and whilst there are some common shared behaviours and traits, I can only talk about my own special mix of introversion and mental health challenges.

I take longer to think about things, I don’t enjoy groups, I need to spend time alone in order to get my head back in order, I am reflective, overly self-critical, self-doubting and have a very firm-held sense of ‘imposter syndrome’ (the idea that I am not actually any good at what I do, and any moment now, I’ll be found out that I’m just blagging it), and a whole host of other things which my therapist can tell you all about.

This plays itself out in many forms – but work is a particular challenge, and when it comes to trying to collect my own successes and achievements in work – I find it incredibly difficult, practically impossible.

I work in a role which has both direct and indirect impact. I both deliver very tangible demonstrable pieces of work, and influence and drive others work and thinking, both in the short term and long term. I work on projects to help clients think about what their business might look like in three-five years time; cultural and organisational design projects which nudge the way people behave; and generally aim to get people excited about things that have potential.

But when it comes to writing up a list of ‘stuff I achieved’ – my brain switches off, my mind goes blank. Things which others would suggest were a success or valuable, I gloss over or forget. Things which didn’t go how I’d want them to have, I write off. Things which have indirect effects, I struggle to claim any sort of credit for. I also generally will try and ensure that the team who were involved in the work get credit for the work, downplaying any personal involvement.

So, my question is: how do I effectively journal and communicate my impact on a business when a) it’s commonly indirect; b) I easily dismiss my own role in things; c) I rarely believe something was ‘good’ and finally d) communicate that to others when the idea of self-promotion is horrifying?

I know for sure that many of my peers have similar traits, and I wonder what techniques to manage this set of personal hurdles you use, in order to not let this hold your career back.

I believe understanding the techniques people personally use are valuable to businesses at large, as we need to better manage introverts in environments which are largely designed around favouring the extrovert (especially in career progression: he who doesn’t ask will very often be overlooked), and as self-directed career management grows, as self-directed performance and working models increase in popularity, we will need to have better scaffold in place to help everyone – regardless of how much they blow their own trumpet.

ps. i really appreciate any comments and suggestions, especially from those of you who don’t necessarily share that you are introverted or struggle with similar things – I know that for some reason, despite there being no reason to, many folk don’t openly talk about this.

Leave a Reply