Monday, September 22, 2014

Introversion and negativity

I joined Google+ to meet other introverts, share thoughts and experience and promote my blog. Before discovering that I am an introvert, I’ve often felt different, isolated and/or strange when I’d react differently from extroverts in a given situation. Joining this community made me understand that I’m not the only one feeling that way. 

Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in negativity in my feed. I get that the internet is a great place to vent and let go of your frustrations. I get that in real life, those people with negative posts may be a lot more positive about interacting with others. That said, being surrounded by so much negativity is tiring and makes me feel different, isolated and strange all over again.


I’ve seen all sorts of quotes about extroverts, interacting with people, wanting to be alone. Truth is I rarely agree with them. I don’t think extroverts are inherently bad people. I don’t think I’d be happier on my own. I want to interact with people, go to parties, make new friends. That doesn’t make me an extrovert. 

Just like many posts about feminism on Tumblr (and probably on other social media too), many posts about introversion/extroversion on Google+ are complete crap to me. Treating men as evil creatures doesn’t make you a stronger woman or a feminist. Treating extrovert as if their purpose in life was to inflict pain on introverts is just as ridiculous and vain. 

I believe in understanding others and their motives, sharing and communicating to make everyone’s life easier. Obviously, it is not always possible or realistic or effective. But saying “I’m an introvert and this is how I perceive this given situation” is making a step in the right direction. It is gaining more respect from others (extroverts included) than shutting down everyone around while silently complaining in your head. 

No one should hide behind the fact that they are introverts (or extroverts!) to act like they do. If you don’t listen to people when they talk, it is not because you are an extrovert; it is because you choose not to. If you don’t have many friends like I do, it is not because you are an introvert; it is because like me you don’t make efforts to make new ones. 

Human being are complex creatures, and I’m getting tired of people using only side of one’s personality to define them and using this as an excuse or a cause to everything they do. In literature, it is called a synecdoche

I’ve attended 5S training in England last week. I met six new people from all Europe. I obviously had an introvert moment at the beginning of the week. From the first day though, I’ve spent my evenings with the team and did not escape to the loneliness of my hotel room. I’ve learned a lot about them and I’m looking forward working with them again. They were pretty surprised to learn that I’m an introvert (as most people). I can be an introvert and be a social being. The counterpart of that week is that I spent most of my week end hidden in my bed, alone with a book (and social media). 

So please, stop justifying your negativity by the fact that you are an introvert…

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I am the Captain of my own ship

The week before I left, two major events happened:
1. I won the European Project of the Year Award for FY14,
2. I sent my BlackBelt project deck for certification. I only have the presentation left before I can be certified.

After this great week, I took advantage of my holidays and thought about my job and my career. I wondered what key element makes me a successful Project Leader. Obviously, there is technical knowledge, but it is not always the key to success. Introversion is a distinctive element from my peers, though sometimes it can make a project go south. What really makes a difference is what I call having a sense of vision.

To me, having a sense of vision is to be able to visualize, to imagine what a solution / software / process will look like before it goes live. At home, it translates in having a clear idea what the room will look like before you start renovating it. As my parents both have vision, I thought for years that it was common to everyone. Leading projects, I discovered that not only it is not the case, but also that it comes really handy.

Because I am comfortable with IT topics, I often end working on software related projects. I have done a data entry software demo to the Unions Rep a couple of months ago and told my audience that the software will be in French (it was in English at the time) and that the field will be the same that the ones used today for each Customer (when I was showing a generic US customer configuration). In my head, I see pretty clearly what it is going to look like. My audience had a hard time doing the same, creating push back and fear of change. 

As a Project Leader, I am the one with a vision. As I am not my Team Members' Manager, I do my best to be their leader using vision and persuasion. I like the metaphor of acting as the Captain of a ship to describe the role of a Project Leader. Let take that journey together.

As I just said, I am the captain of the ship (Project Leader). I have been asked  and given the means by the Governor (Sponsor) to complete a mission (solve an issue). I need to gather a Crew (Team) depending of the size of my ship and destination (project). My Crew is made of a few volunteers, but mainly of people who take part of this journey out of necessity. 

My role is to convince them that I know where we are going (solution) and that no matter how hard the journey will get (DMAIC steps), it will be worth it and they will get their gold (benefits from the project). Food and water (investments and resources) are limited on board and need to be managed properly.

Once at sea, them leaving will make it harder to navigate (lead the project to success). They may lose their lives (from credibility to job) in the process of leaving. Once we get to the promised land (Control phase), we celebrate and share the gold (benefits). Then we move on to our next mission (project).