Note from Beth: I’m pleased to share this special guest blog post from Leanne Chapman of Claim Your Treasure. Whether or not you identify yourself as “creative,” if you’re an entrepreneur, you are being creative everyday! Leanne offers thoughtful insights and tips for any introvert who wants to make friends with the creative process.
On the one hand, we have the gift of introspection; being able to reflect and attend to our inner world is a wonderful foundation for the growth of creative ideas. Being able to work happily for hours in silence and isolation further supports this creative process.
On the other hand, our natural reticence towards sharing our most inner thoughts with strangers can block the outward expression of these creative ideas. This is particularly true when our creativity is part of our journey as an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur requires two parallel processes:
- the generation of ideas and the development of unique ways to bring these ideas into fruition; and
- going out into the world to speak about our ideas to the masses, inviting their attention and engagement with the fruits of our labours.
The introvert generally dislikes being the centre of attention and is not much interested in status or fame. This might place introverts at odds with entrepreneurship, given that they need to network and promote their creations to the public in order to be successful in the marketplace. Being both an introvert and an entrepreneur can lead to great ambivalence because of the disparity between these two roles.
As introverts tend to be better at listening than speaking, the requirement to promote our creations via networking and marketing activities, book tours, exhibition openings, interviews and book signings, can make us feel like we’ve emerged from one extreme environment to another. Many introverts would much prefer to express their ideas on paper rather than verbally. And when they do speak, they often like to rehearse what they’ll say beforehand and take time to process information before answering questions.
There are also difficulties for introverts wanting to express their creativity in a team environment. The extraverts in the team are usually much more immediate and articulate when speaking up and sharing their ideas as they arrive, leaving the introverts still thinking about what they want to say as the meeting finishes. This can make them appear less creative than their extrovert colleagues, and they may even begin to doubt their own abilities in this area as a result.
However Susan Cain, author of Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, reminds us that without introverts, we would not have the theories of gravity and relativity, Chopin’s compositions, Peter Pan, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Charlie Brown, The Cat in the Hat, Google or Harry Potter. Introverts clearly have the ability to be highly creative and may even have an edge in this area. Activities such as writing, making art, dreaming and creating are often most effective when done in solitude, allowing for the creation of new paradigms.
But how do we overcome the other side of the creative process – speaking up, showing the world what we’ve made, and interacting with potential clients? There are a number of things we can do to make this process easier for ourselves.
1. Be discerning
Julia Cameron, author of The Artists’ Way, advises us to guard our work in its developing stages. Our creations need time to incubate and mature before being exposed to potential criticism, however constructive it may be. Don’t start sharing your work too early in the process. The more confident you are in your products, the easier they’ll be to promote and the less it will matter what others do or say in response.
2. Rely on word of mouth
If you have extroverted friends and colleagues, you may be able to leverage this by talking to them about your work and letting them spread the word on your behalf. Extroverts enjoy doing this, and if they love your work, they won’t be able to keep from talking about it.
3. Give up perfectionism
By allowing your work to be imperfect, you will be less vulnerable to being thrown off guard by difficult questions or a less than enthusiastic response to your marketing campaign. There is always room for improvement and you will be more open to helpful suggestions which will genuinely improve your products if you aren’t aiming for perfection in the first place.
4. Let go of the outcome
Sometimes we can get in our own way by trying too hard. When we have a great attachment to the success of our work in the marketplace, we can become vulnerable to the trap of compromising our message. Trust that your unique work will find its way to the people who are waiting for it exactly as it is.
5. Stop competing
This includes comparing ourselves to others. You have something to offer that is unique because it comes from your heart; no-one else on the planet can offer it, and certainly not in the same format. This means there is no-one to compete with. If someone doesn’t want your work, they aren’t your ideal client and it makes more room for someone who is. It’s highly possible that the person who rejects your work might know someone who IS your perfect client and send them your way. Rejection isn’t always what it seems – and even if someone rejects your work, they aren’t rejecting YOU.
6. Talk about the work
Introverts in particular find it difficult to self-promote because we find it awkward to talk about ourselves at length. Reflect on what it is about your work that fills you with joy, and focus on discussing that. Self-promotion will arise naturally out of this, and you won’t feel as though you’re talking endlessly about yourself. You’ll also find you’ll speak with more energy when you’re able to talk about your passions.
7. Don’t overschedule
Introverts drain energy when they spend a lot of time with other people, so if you’re on the promotion trail or about to do a big launch, schedule accordingly. Your energy levels will need reviving after even one event where you need to spend time speaking about yourself and interacting with a group of strangers. You’ll have a much better time doing this if you allow yourself time to recharge in between these sessions, even if they’re online events or phone interviews. Step up the self-care during these times and you’ll survive the process in much better shape and won’t be left dreading it the next time.
Most importantly, enjoy your creativity – it’s an important part of who you are. Sharing it with the world may never feel easy, but like anything, you’ll become more comfortable and adept at it the more you do it. Self-care and acceptance of your individual personality needs are the key! If you have any other tips, please share them with us in the comments section below.
- Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead – Nancy Ancowitz
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
- TED talk: The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain
- Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert – Beth Buelow
Main Image source: http://toptenpk.com
Leanne worked as a psychologist for 15 years before deciding to combine creative expression with emotional and spiritual growth. She is also a qualified life coach and holds a Diploma of Creative Writing.
Through her own healing journey, Leanne has discovered powerful processes which she now shares through individual sessions and online resources, using a range of creative spiritual activities.
Thank you so much for this really helpful post! Some really great suggestions there. I'm going to have to keep reading this to remind myself of its genius over the next few weeks. I can relate to almost all of those points and could definitely benefit from putting your suggestions into practice! Thanks.
There are some fabulous suggestions for creative introverts in this post, Leanne - great job. I talk about leveraging the power of online communities quite a bit already in my Online Promotion for Introverts programme - but I don't talk about the fact that extroverts who love our work will love to talk about it. I'm thinking of adding that and crediting you, if that's OK?
Also, I think #7 is critical for introverts. Overscheduling - or just scheduling a couple of things back-to-back without giving ourselves downtime to recover in between engagements - is a major energy sink for many introverts. It's so freaking important for us to acknowledge "what is" around our energy limits and work from there, rather than beating ourselves up because we don't have as much energy for interactions as our extroverted friends (which then drains even more of our precious energy!)
Blessings, and thanks for an awesome post
@TanjaGardner I have no problem with you sharing that one Tanja, it comes from personal experience :) gotta love those extroverts! Thanks for your feedback and for all the work you do to support introverts as well.