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I’m an introvert who can often appear like an extrovert. I follow a few social media accounts dealing with introversion. Just because. I chuckled over the weekend when I saw an Instagram post by IntrovertDear.
Dentist: Open up, please.
Me: Sometimes I get sad.
(Oh, you meant my mouth)
There seem to be three basic groups of people when it comes to opening up. There are those who open up to everybody. If you’ll listen, they’ll talk. And talk. And talk. And talk.
Then there are those who won’t talk. Hardly ever. They barely open up about anything to anybody. These are the “cat has your tongue” people.
Then there are those in the middle. Perhaps these make up the largest group, but I don’t know. These people open up sometimes. To some people. They’ll open up, but they’re discriminating.
If my 3 category theory is correct, then it means two-thirds of us have some difficulty opening up. Really opening up. We need the right circumstances and the right people. Without a safe space and safe people, we’re not likely going to open. And only those who exercise no discrimination don’t much care about the conditions for opening up.
I’ll argue that even those non-discriminating folks who talk and talk and talk with anybody and everybody aren’t truly opening up very often. Mostly, they’re just blabbering without reaching any depths that can accomplish something positive.
That likely means 100% of us (okay, we’ll allow a small degree of variance in case I’m not completely correct), find it tough to open up and engage in deep enough conversation to help us unearth the source of our challenges or the reality of our opportunities (and I’m not talking about our pie-in-the-sky-dreams). Depth of discussion required to get to the heart of a matter!
A decade plus of coaching executives, leaders and business owners has given me sufficient evidence to know how rare it is for most of us. People of all ages, all walks of life, all levels of formal education and experience have shown me how infrequently they’ve been able to find a safe place with safe people. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their voice. It’s both a relief and a challenge.
The relief to finally open up and face something head-on without searching for hiding place is cathartic, but mostly – helpful in finding ways to move forward.
The challenge is in finding another strength – one beyond the strength to open up. It’s the strength to face the truth and deal with it. That process isn’t the same for everybody. Some process it more quickly and easily than others. Others can get ill. Physically. Nausea. Headache. I’ve watched it happen.
But those who make up their mind to lean into the process for the high value they know they’ll get — they put in the mental and emotional work knowing it’s safe and for their best outcome. Once they battle through the fear of false belief that their vulnerability will be used against them (and when they’re in a safe place among safe people that will never happen), then they take off like a rocket. They soar finding new altitudes that were impossible before. The weight of the constraints and challenges prevented them from going higher. Now those weights are lightened or removed. It doesn’t mean there are no problems from now on…it just means now they have a new resource with which to face them. And deal with them.
It’s amazingly rare though. The resource, that is.
There are 17 rare earth elements. No, I don’t know all their names. Or even have a rudimentary understanding of their power. Shoot, I can’t even pronounce their names. That’s how rare they are! 😉
But I know that entrepreneurs (really ANY humans) finding a safe space with safe people surrounding them so they can leverage the power of their peers is equally rare. It’s the 18th rare element – surrounding yourself with people who can be helped by you and who can help you.
Because it’s so rare some don’t even believe it exists. I mean if you’ve never seen it or experienced it, you may think it’s just somebody’s fantasy. But it’s very real. Fewer than 1% of entrepreneurs know it firsthand. I told you it was rare. Like most rare things, it’s extraordinarily valuable. But it’s not valuable because it’s rare. It’s valuable because it works. It transforms businesses and lives. It generates greater revenues and profits. It solves problems. It seizes opportunities.
There’s nothing like it because the resource is the human brain. Multiple human brains engaged in helping each other. Multiple viewpoints. Multiple experiences. Multiple approaches to problem-solving and opportunity-seizing. AI may be in the uptick, but leveraging the power of other human beings who are individually pursuing the same thing we are (entrepreneurs and business owners) is powerful because it provides us with the strength to open up, which gives us the opportunity to grow.
Tinker Bell said it best…
All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.
Be well. Do good. Grow great.