Hi. My name is Harini Sathi and I am an introvert. Introverted to the point where in Kindergarten, the teacher mispronounced my name, and I decided to go with it for the next 25 years. I just started attempting to teach the correct pronunciation this past year. (FYI: Instinct is to say 'ha-REE-nee'. Correct pronunciation - 'hurry-knee').
Admitting it is the first step to recovery. That and realizing that being an introvert is not someone's sole defining characteristic (more on this later).
I was lucky this summer to be selected as one of Inspiring Capital's (IC) Inspire Impact MBA Fellows. While I could rattle off 10 different reasons why the IC Fellowship appealed to me, the main one was their focus on helping Fellows create a social impact network. Industry agnostic, the most compelling career success stories have been dependent on building and maintaining a strong network. As a new entrant to the impact sector I was desperate to get a jump start on building my network, and IC provided countless opportunities to leverage: in-house training sessions by industry experts, panels of impact thought leaders, and formalized after-work networking events. But, let's be honest. As much as I needed this, the word 'networking' has always induced a Pavlovian-like response of anxiety.
Networking events are my Hunger Games. During these moments of panic, I tend to get wrapped up in my trait that pulls me into my introverted hole. I end up forgetting that there are 50+ different personality traits make me Harini. I forget my strengths. I cower under the label of introvert and stay there.
This is why I love personality assessments (please note that the assessments I refer to are not the: 'Which Friends Character are you?' Or 'What sandwich are you based on your zodiac sign?'). At my previous position before starting the MBA program, I worked with a number of leadership personality assessments1. I'm careful to say 'worked with' instead of just 'took', because working with personality assessments is an ongoing process. While most people complete them online, receive a report and call it a day, the true benefit is reaped by reviewing the results, verifying if the assessment resonates with actual behavior, and then strategy building. My self-awareness quadrupled after this exercise.
I am so much more than an introvert! All of us are made up of 50+ traits that make us uniquely us. What's more, is that different traits work in combination with each other to bring about our behaviors and responses to events. Even the quality of being introverted breaks down further. For example, I have very high sociability (ability and desire to work with people) and low gregariousness (comfort being around groups of people and crowds). Understanding my personality and my trait mix helps me modify a typically panic-ridden situation into one that I can excel at.
It would be easy to say 'I'm an introvert, so I hate networking' but scheduling coffee meetings with panel members for a later date and playing to my strength of one-on-one interactions has been much more beneficial. Leveraging your strengths will always be more effective, more fun, and less exhausting than overcoming your weaknesses.
So… Hi. My name is Harini and I'm an introvert. AND a great listener, AND a strong analytical thinker, AND an energetic communicator, etc. etc. etc.
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