How did I get here?!

I started my career working for Barclays Bank, in a branch in Cornwall. I worked there for 7 years, progressed well and then moved to Cheshire to work in their ICT Centre near Knutsford. I had a range of roles, some involved line management which I really enjoyed and some required me to do presentations to staff groups, which I loved and was pretty good at. I used humour to cover the cracks and people seemed to be happy with that. What I couldn’t understand was why I enjoyed the presentations so much and could be very outgoing then, but if I was invited to go out for drinks afterwards I would really struggle and feel totally exhausted. A training course at the Bank introduced me to the concept of introversion and extraversion and that’s where my journey towards today started.

I left the bank in 2002, having trained as a Stress Manager and worked with private clients for the next six years. As time went on, I realised what they all had in common, with only one exception which was a very different conversation! All my stress management clients were introverts or extroverted introverts like me. My introverted clients presented as quiet and worried as we might expect but the extraverted introverts presented as much more forceful and direct and so their introversion was less obvious. As we talked though, I could tell that their values were more introverted, even if they could be outgoing and confident, like me!

Being an extraverted introvert (as I call it) creates a conflict for other people. They think you’re more extraverted but when you want to go back and hide in your corner to recharge your energy level, it contradicts their view of you as an outgoing and confident person! By understanding the different personality types I’ve been able reassure myself that I’m not an oddball and to communicate my preferences to others. The extraverts (and some introverts) still say “you’re not an introvert!” but the rest of us know otherwise.

As the stress management work didn’t bring in enough clients to make it a full time role, I started working as a basic skills tutor. That progressed from working in workplace settings to working with unemployed adults and then young offenders. Interesting times! I worked towards and gained my teaching degree and left the profession 12 months later! Such a fidget.

I worked for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service for 4 years in their Community Safety Department, learning about the brilliant work they do to offer fire safety advice to the public, with a particular focus on older and vulnerable people who are at greater risk from fire. Think more frail and likely to fall, isolated and lonely. Add fire into that mix and the results can be significant. The Fire Service do great work to offer advice and support, and make people safer in their homes. I was also involved in the work they do to support the victims and survivors of domestic abuse who are at greater risk from fire and sometimes receive threats relating to fire. It was really difficult stuff but they do amazing work to offer support and work with partner agencies.

My most recent roles have been with the NHS, where I worked for 5 years, with my last two years there spent as an Organisational Development Manager, supporting staff development, health and wellbeing. Some of my work involved one to one coaching and that’s what re-connected me with the ‘many of these people are more introverted’ thinking. I did lots of presentations as part of my OD role and think I have a natural talent for delivery which makes me perfectly placed to spread the message about the strength of introversion and to raise awareness around stress management, building resilience and personality types.

My role now is as a self employed personal development specialist and my aim is to spread the word…everywhere! Quietly and effectively, as any good introvert would ?