Empowering others to use their energy wisely
In the midst ofCovid 19, I thought of getting another dog. Louie seems bored with me around so much, and I worry he gets lonely and needs another dog to play with. He gets plenty of exercise thanks to my walking him 15 times a day, as I need a break from my writing. But he’s a pack animal, and I don’t think I’m enough “pack” for him.
But then I remember my first doggie duo. My daughter Marisa and I were convinced that Buffy, the first dog we owned together, was lonely and needed a buddy. So we brought a very energetic Bichon puppy named Bree home when Buffy was 3-years-old…she was Buffy’s worst nightmare.
Then after Buffy died, we adopted Cece. Cece wanted me all to herself, which was not going to happen as long as Bree was around. After they passed within three years of each other, I took a break from any more doggie drama. And now there’s Louie!
But I noticed something interesting about Louie. He loves his buddies and will whine to go out to play, but when he’s done, he comes home and quietly goes to his man cave. He has a spot in my bedroom and a crate on the lower level of my home and he prefers that no one invade his privacy. After observing his behavior over the last few years, it is clear he loves to be alone. Even when I’m home, he is not under my feet. He will go into his crate while I am working or go to his favorite spot to look out the window.
Perhaps this is a learned behavior after living with me since 2013. I love to be alone. I enjoy the quietness of my home, and I reenergize by spending time alone. I plan for plenty of white space on my calendar for that purpose. I guard that time because it is precious to me. I would never be able to pour into people as I do if I did not have plenty of time alone.
The reactions I receive when I tell people I’m an introvert ranges from utter disbelief to acknowledgement that they catch a glimpse of introversion occasionally. The audiences I speak to are usually the ones who display disbelief, because their idea of an introvert is not someone who is comfortable giving speeches. I learned many years ago from my friend Lynne, the primary difference between an introvert and an extrovert. She asked one simple question: “You’ve been around people all day at work or at a social event. Upon arriving home, you receive a call from a friend who invites you to a party. Would you turn around and head out to the party or politely decline to stay home?” I didn’t hesitate…stay home!
She explained that it doesn’t mean I am shy or socially awkward or even afraid of public speaking. It simply means I recharge by being alone.
The terms extrovert and introvert refer to the ways people use their energy. These words have psychological meaning that is different from the way they are used in everyday language.Everyone spends some time extroverting and some time introverting. Don’t confuse introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related and I am far from shy.
And things get really tricky when you throw in a new term: ambivert—a word used to describe someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion. There is no doubt, I’m an introvert who functions quite well in an extroverted world, and I love my time alone.
Good leaders understand that people have differing ways of directing their energies. Not everyone will respond the same way, even in the same situations. Designate your extroverted employees who are WOOs(winning others over as a strength) go to the social networking events. Be aware of what energizes and what drains you, your loved ones, and employees.
I sometimes wonder if the superficiality of our culture today, thanks to social media, hasn’t made me more keenly aware of being introverted. As someone who is very relational, my connection with others is key to my well-being. Yet I still prefer time alone, rather than engage in any insincere or phony relationship. And now I have an introverted dog that lives with me, and I’m thankful we are so compatible. He makes being home even more of a welcome reprieve.