Pants. I put them on every weekday

People wear me out. Conferences exhaust me. Even a day of meetings leaves me crabby and tired. My ideal vacation is a cabin in the woods with no internet or neighbors. And yet I’ve enjoyed some modicum of success and the sort of career advancement usually reserved for extroverts. It’s been a deliberate journey.

Here’s a few things that have worked for me.

  • Sucking it up. After years of watching talking heads fail upwards, I realized that visibility matters and if I really wanted to affect the product I had to find ways to make myself and ideas more visible. I’ve forced myself to talk more. No one cares about your ideas as much as you do. You are their Sherpa.
  • Being open about my limitations. At conferences, I sometimes just say “Hey, I’m feeling really overstimulated. I’m going to go find a quiet place to sit for half an hour.” Or even on busy meeting days in the office, I book a 30-minute break on my calendar to go sit in a dark room with noise-canceling headphones playing nature sounds.
  • I take pauses in conversations. Usually initiated with a long inhale to gather my thoughts. As a leader, your words are tealeaves. People read them. It’s your ethical responsibility not to let your own limitations scare people. I take a deep breath and ask myself whether the source of my irritation is environmental, content-based, or personality-based. I take the long exhale to decide which. If the answer is I’m irritated because I’m surrounded by people or have had a long day of interactions, I explain and ask for a few moments to take deep breaths and refocus. 

I’m not a special snowflake. I’m just a flawed human trying to be open about my capabilities. I do my best. I stay open to feedback. Honesty begets honesty. Except when it doesn’t and fuck those people anyway.