After running a webinar recently, I was asked a really great question “What is a Flourishing Introvert?” The reason it was such a great question was that the term Flourishing chose me rather than me choosing it. I just woke up during one night and the term was there at the forefront of my mind and on the tip of my tongue. So, it felt like a gift, from where or whom, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m happy to receive and appreciate gifts that come my way. Having been given this gift, I then researched the extent to which it met my needs before settling on the term Flourishing Introverts. So, having chosen it somewhat instinctively as opposed to thinking it through carefully. I’d now been invited to reflect on the why.
I stayed with the term as a reflection of my belief that as an introvert I am capable of a remarkable life where I own rather than hide behind my preference for introversion. A life where I value my quiet power and my gifts as an introvert. A life where I can feel valued for not only for the contribution I make, but for being me. When I choose flourishing, I choose a life filled with joy where I don’t apologise for who I am or how I am. It’s a process not a destination and one which I can influence and/or control moment to moment.
The dictionary definitions vary slightly and the one that really resonates with me is from the English Oxford Living Dictionary
“to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly congenial environment.”
There are 2 things that stand out for me in this definition.
1. The ‘healthy way’. Owning my introversion means I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I spent many a year trying to be more like my extraverted colleagues and it was exhausting. Worse than that, my trying came from a position of lack, or less than; I was not enough! I’d decided I wasn’t as ‘good as’ those colleagues.
2. The ‘congenial environment’. This doesn’t just happen by accident; I co-create it. This means being able to ask for what I want, putting in place my boundaries and letting people know what those boundaries are, when they are close to or have stepped over a boundary. It also means regularly doing things for me that recharge my batteries and allow me to be at my best.
When I started to really reflect on what flourishing meant to people I found this definition from positive psychologist Dr. Lynn Soots
“Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.”
So much in this definition aligns with my values, beliefs and purpose; authenticity, inner joy, life passions to name a few. What also resonated with me is that flourishing is a process requiring action that anyone can engage in. This sits particularly well with me as from the moment it came to me, I sensed flourishing was the journey not the destination.
There is also a certain irony here. A long-term study in the Netherlands claimed that one of the many factors related to flourishing was ‘high levels of extraversion’. This rankled me as I’m an Open Introvert with the ability to flex some of my behaviours towards extraversion, as do we all.
So, I’m staking a claim for flourishing to be the right of us all, not just those with high levels of extraversion.
So, am I flourishing? Well, I am a talented and successful change agent who has been working with international clients for over 30 years. I may work with them on a 1:1 basis, in smallish groups or speak from a stage to over 1000 people. My introversion doesn’t stop me from having a great business. What is does require is that I make the best use of my ever-developing skills and awareness, fed by and linked to my passion in life and aligned with my purpose. So, my answer is yes, I am flourishing because I choose flourishing.
Join me as a Flourishing Introvert