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The Authentic Introvert Entrepreneur

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by Beth L. Buelow, author of “The Introvert Entrepreneur

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Be who you are, as long as you’re like us.

That’s the implicit message we’ve probably all experienced at one time or another. It might have been at school, at home, or at work. We’re told that individuality is celebrated, but at the end of the day, conformity is what’s rewarded.

It’s time to push back and do more than pay lip service to authenticity.

Authenticity is a word that tends to be overused, but for a reason. It reflects a way of being that encompasses many concepts at once: genuine, trustworthy, reliable.

According to the Collins English Dictionary, it derives from the Late Latin word authenticus, “coming from the author,” from Greek authentikos, from authentēs, “one who acts independently,” from auto- + hentēs, a doer.

For the introvert entrepreneur, there is much to love in the word authenticity. Living in authenticity means honoring your truth. Taking action. Coming from your inner wisdom. Being who you are, 100 percent.

How do introverts do that in the face of calls to conform to an extrovert expectation, especially as entrepreneurs? The change has to be a two-way street, but introverts can lead the charge. After all, the way we create change in others is to start with change in ourselves. We teach people how to treat us.

The authentic introvert entrepreneur has six best practice habits:

Doesn’t try to be a fake extrovert.

Everyone falls on a spectrum, and every introvert has some level of extroversion within. See the words introvert and extrovert as verbs: there are times when you introvert in order to recharge your batteries, and there are times that you extrovert, when you’re projecting your energy outward. With practice, there’s less of a need to “fake it til you make it.”

Leverages natural strengths and preferences.

Being a good listener, having sharp observation skills, being good with people one-on-one, thinking before speaking… these are all valuable professional skills, so look for opportunities to put them to good use, rather than trying to downplay them as “soft skills” or unimportant.

Embraces that less is more.

Introverts don’t usually require a large circle of friends or a busy social calendar. A few close friends and thoughtfully spaced outings will often bring enough interaction to satisfy social needs. Notice the “should” social and professional invitations and be honest with yourself about whether you want to go.

Proactively takes care of his energy.

Just as you shouldn’t leave the house with your phone at a 10% charge knowing you have a conference call in 30 minutes, you shouldn’t deplete your personal batteries to the point where a casual conversation knocks you out. Sometimes as little as 10 minutes of down time can be enough to get you through until you can take a longer break.

Respects her comfort zone.

It’s okay to have a comfort zone and spend time there – it’s where you recharge! It’s by spending time there that you generate the energy to go outside it and stretch, as might be called for in a social or professional setting.

Manages energy, not time.

Introversion is largely defined by how one gains and drains energy, so it makes sense that energy is an introvert’s most valuable asset. When you look at your calendar for the week, don’t see it in terms of meetings or clients or tasks; see energetic investments. A client call might only occupy one hour of your day, but it might take the energetic equivalent of three hours. By looking at your days in terms of energy, you’re more likely to create a sustainable schedule that gives you the solitude and focused, uninterrupted work time you need, balanced with social interactions.

It’s important to understand that introversion isn’t something you overcome, it’s something you understand and honor. You’re not broken, and your introversion in itself is not a liability. It’s your relationship to it that determines if it’s an asset or a liability. The biggest gift you can give the world – and yourself – is to be unapologetically, happily introverted you.

 

think 260x230 Beth Buelow Author__

Beth L. Buelow is a certified coach, corporate trainer, and professional speaker and author of “The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms“. Since founding her coaching company, also called The Introvert Entrepreneur, along with her popular podcast of the same name, she has established herself as a go-to expert for introvert entrepreneurs around the world. Follow her on Twitter @introvertcoach or visit her website at theintrovertentrepreneur.com.