Extrovert or introvert?

vacation_time_max200wPersonality tests, like MBTI for instance, often offer some sense of whether you have preference for being an ‘extrovert’ or an ‘introvert’.

Before I understood what that really meant, I thought those words described whether you were on the talkative side like me (☺), or whether you were more on the shy side.

I’ve since learned that my definition was too simplistic.

In fact, being talkative – or not – isn’t the defining feature of extraverts or intraverts. What those words were meant to describe was the way different individuals charge their batteries. There are those who recharge in contact with others (extraverts) and those who need to be alone to gather strength (take a wild guess…). This means someone who seems like an extraverted talker might actually be an introvert who needs time alone on the top of a mountain to re-energize, and that someone who seems quiet can actually be an extrovert who needs the presence of others to resource themselves.

Independent of whether you have an extrovert or introvert preference, what is important is that you know how you will use the summer months to charge your batteries. For my part, I’ll be indulging my introvert for two months so that I can be come back and regale you – in extroverted fashion – with inspiring bubbles in September.

When in doubt

I’m driving in Paris, looking for a parking spot. I lose my bearings for a moment, miss the U-turn I should have taken and have to turn right instead…which leads me into a huge traffic jam!

sign_turn-left-aheadWhen I finally arrive – very late – for my dinner appointment, I share my tale of traffic woe and one of the people in the group shares her secret recipe for navigating in Paris: « When in doubt, turn left! » – ‘What nonsense’, I think. ‘That would have worked this evening, but surely not every time…!?’

But since that evening I’ve been applying her rule religiously. Whenever I am not sure of which way to turn, and run the risk of wasting time over a decision when driving, I turn left. Strangely, it works like magic: the chances are still 50/50 that I get it wrong, but I have taken a decision. Or, another way of saying that, I’m not stuck in indecision.

I am not afraid of taking a bad decision these days. I just admit I got it wrong and do what I can to fix it. In doing so I have lived based on Mandela’s advice about getting stuck : “You cannot lose: either you win, or you learn something”. Today, I prefer learning something instead of wasting time in hesitation.

And you? Are there some unmade decisions in your life that are keeping you from what awaits you in your future?

Taking Leave

“Let’s talk about it in September”. Unbelievably, this is a phrase you can start hearing in May in business meetings in France.

vacationIf you want to suggest a new project to a client or a business partner, if it is not back off their desks by the end of May, very often you get stuck in limbo until after August. It is as if it was impossible to do important and meaningful work in July and August, when many of the French take vacation. To me, it seems as if these two months have become the excuse for not taking any important decisions at all in the middle part of the year.

This makes no sense. None. Apart – perhaps – from in the mind of the eager French holidaymakers.

It seems that no one is counting the cost to the country. By putting off meaningful decisions for 3 months of the year, we lose 1/4 of a year!

I love France, the country I’ve chosen as my home for the past 25 years. But I did grow up in Germany, and the phenomenon doesn’t exist there.

I could – if I was to accept things as they are – shut my business for those three months, but for two years in a row the month of July has been my most productive month. Why? Because I don’t believe in the ‘rule’ about putting off all decisions!

Here’s a question for you: what if a country (it shall remain nameless) that has been teetering in and out of ‘La Crise’ for nearly 30 years suddenly added 3 months to its working year by becoming more willing to make decisions all year long? What might that do for the mood, for job creation, and for its international competitiveness?

My cupboard of creativity

I realized lately that there was an uneven distribution in how the rod in my clothes cupboard was getting used. When I considered it carefully, I realized that I only ever wear about 20% of the clothes, from the right side of the rod that holds the hangars. The remaining 80% on the left were hardly ever being worn.
fashionThat 80% is still fashionable and attractive, so I invented a personal challenge: each day I take whatever is on the next hanger to the left and take it out for a spin!

Here is the result: I have rediscovered items long forgotten and I have found new ways to associate the ‘new’ garment with the rest of my wardrobe. Not only have I been able to double my active wardrobe, but have also found myself a new way to express my creativity!

What works for my wardrobe also works in the kitchen: I now often decide to « improvise » around a specific food or theme rather than just going with dishes I’ve made hundreds of times before. It’s also become part of my approach when I am about to write an article: I start with a quote or a short story and then I branch out to mental associations I think you might find helpful or interesting.

And you? In which domain are you expressing your creativity while making appropriate associations around a given element?

The mirror

Inspired by « Cristal Heart », a story by Frédéric Lenoir

MiroirA young man, unhappy after a recent insult by his friends, went looking for comfort from an old wise man but didn’t get quite what he expected:
« Nobody is able to make you unhappy”, said the old man. “Also, instead of having been insulted, let’s say your friends had offered compliments. Would you have been happy?”
“Probably”, the young man answered.
“Well, then you would have given them the power to make you happy. It’s the same thing.
“Life holds up all kind of mirrors for us, so that we can learn about ourselves and make progress. An insult or a compliment is just a mirror that is being held up for us. It doesn’t matter who holds it up.
“When you look into a mirror and you see that you have a blemish on your face, you don’t get mad at the mirror or the person holding it, do you?. You just do what you can to remove the blemish.  
“What you want to do is use the mirror of others remarks to observe yourself and to observe your own reactions. Each gesture and each word that touches you is there so that you get to know yourself better, change what you need to, and move on. Happiness and unhappiness are inside you.”

I saw bits of myself in this tale, so I thought I’d check with you: have you given the power to be happy or unhappy to somebody else or are you in control?

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