I'm an introvert. I think I may have said this before? Being an introvert sucks sometimes, and it definitely makes leadership a challenge. Richard Branson, I am not, and I'm not referring to his billions (although I don't have those either).
I am a people person; I genuinely like people; just in measured doses. This doesn't lend itself well to being fully available to others or 24/7 engaged on social media. I find all this quite exhausting. I need solitude, quiet and a good amount of time to reflect.
A full day of people leaves me quite exhausted. A couple of intense people days in a row, and I feel myself physically withdrawing. It's not voluntary. My battery is drained and I need to recharge. As a leader I know this can be misconstrued or misunderstood (one of the reason I'm writing this post).
To add to the sucki-ness of this self-disclosure, I'm not only an introvert, I'm at the older end of being a GenX'er. This means I'm a technology migrant, rather than a native like my Millennial children, so compounding my introversion is social communication via social media ... Now this is a funny one, it's not the actual media platforms. They're reasonably easy to navigate (with the help of my millennial's), it's that you have to remember to post things ... all the time! You have to be 'on' 24/7 and think what to share. Not only that - I feel like I'm comparing my insides to other people's outsides. My life just isn't that interesting! I just don't have that much to say? My upbeat, best self just doesn't seem to be as 'on tap' as much as everyone else's?!?
I understand that my 'stand-off-ish-ness' might not make sense to others. I love that in the relationships I share with the kids and adults who are part of GSL, this isn't an issue. Many are learning social skills themselves, so they don't pick-up on, or read into, my social presences and absences. My quirkiness is accepted and taken as a matter of fact.
I can't expect this of the people who look to me as a leader. I am so conscious that as the organisation has grown, I know proportionately fewer and fewer GSL-ians. It's tricky to get out to all of the venues on a regular basis to say 'hi, how's it going?', but worse, when I've done it, I've had no real reason for being there and everyone's busy so I hang around like an awkward, third wheel. Not my cup of tea at all! We have gatherings, and once I get past my social anxieties, I really enjoy meeting and talking with everyone. We have an internal social media platform and I think that's my place for reaching out. I just have to overcome a few personal hurdles, and then I think I'll be off and running.
My real worry is the distance I feel growing between myself and families. My quota of people time per day is being filled by other people. When I was doing GSL's intake, I had reason to be talking to families. Now, I don't have that natural connection. I'm also conscious that I'm not making new relationships with younger families, those who might like someone to talk to, share worries and bounce ideas. How do I know if we're on track if I don't have these relationships? I need to reconnect with old relationships and build new ones. I have a few ideas on how to do this, I just have to get past some personal self-sabotaging.
I think it's a natural thing to wish for what you don't have - I don't have that flamboyant, extroverted social confidence that attracts others like moths to a flame (or, for that matter, will I be a model or an athlete!) I want these relationships and even though it won't come easy, nothing valuable ever does!