Biweekly Notes: S2 E6

What it means to be bold as an introvert

Biweekly Notes: S2 E6
Photo by Aniket Bhattacharya on Unsplash

Following my last weeknote on being bold, I got thinking about what it means to be bold when you’re not a typically bold person. Anyone who meets me would not think of me as bold. I’m not a charismatic leader. I’m friendly but quiet, a fairly awkward, slightly frumpy and mostly frazzled mum who is often hovering on the outskirts of groups. And although I am very social, I am intrinsically introverted and much more of a listener than a speaker. Often I don’t speak in meetings at all — not out of fear, but because I put so much energy into listening that I find it hard to come up with something meaningful to share.

And yet I consider myself bold. I’ve been reflecting on why and this is what I came up with:

I am bold because I am not afraid to ask for what I think is needed or deserved, even if I think the answer will be no, or if my inner voice tells me it’s too much to ask for. I am bold because I run headfirst into change, even if it means moving thousands of kilometers, uprooting my family, putting myself into uncomfortable places and spaces. I am bold because I am authentic and and vocally vulnerable and unapologetic of my awkwardness. I am bold because I ask questions, even if I worry they make me look daft. I am bold because I am ruthlessly reflective and willing to change my opinion.

Anyway, onto my weeknotes ….

Three things that went well:

  • I ran two important and impactful workshops. I put a lot of prep into them and it paid off — we had some great insights and the feedback was really positive.
  • This is an ongoing theme but I continued to contribute to various communities, in my org and more widely — attending things that are out of my exact job role, contributing to discussions, asking questions, answering questions, giving feedback and so on. Something that’s been on my mind lately is how big some communities are, and yet there’s so little going on in them; people love to lurk but they don’t get involved. So I’m trying chip away at that in my own small way.
  • In prepping for the workshops and dealing with a few other things, I spent a lot of time working through problems and questions with my manager and it was really great — full of reminders that we’re aligned in what we want to achieve, such as:

Three things that challenged me:

  • Prepping for the workshops — as usual, I was full of doubts about my approach, I wasn’t sure if I was asking the right questions, and I worried I was missing the whole point of what we wanted to achieve.
  • Agile working! I’ve been in agile teams for a long time and I think I have a good grasp of the mindset, but in my new org the follows scrum and I’ve never worked in such a methodical, planned way. My previous agile experience was always more flexible, so I’m struggling a bit to figure out how design fits into a very technical and ordered agile approach.
  • Time change! I always think it’s not going to be a big deal to lose an hour, but this year it threw everyone in my house off. I full on slept in on Monday and Tuesday morning (by accident!) and getting the children up on both those days was an absolute tantrumy nightmare.

Three things that inspired me:

  • This lovely piece of writing by @jonodrew really hit on a lot of things that I am feeling lately (or maybe always feel.) I particularly related to the stuff about how impossible it feels to make large changes in organizations, so the focus is on changing oneself and hoping it has some sort of small influence: “Perhaps all we’re doing here is planting acorns to shelter people who haven’t even been born yet.” (love this)
  • This great twitter thread sharing the best writing on bringing digital to government has so much good stuff to dig into, some of which I’ve seen before but forgotten, and lots I’ve never seen before.
  • I found some great learnings from this article on Co-Design by Janet Hughes. I particularly loved the lessons learned about building trust with people not used to trusting governments, and being honest about what’s up for discussion and what’s not.

Reading, watching and listening:

  • I finished two books this week that were both incredible and devastating in equal measure: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, and Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. I simply cannot get over either of them; the characters are going to stick with me for a long, long time. Absolutely haunting.
  • Watching — nothing? No, wait, I’ve been catching up on gogglebox, but otherwise re-watching shows I’ve already seen, so nothing notable here.
  • Heavyweight! Oh man, I love this podcast. I’ve been hearing promos for it for years but they never caught my attention. And then this week, I finally got through my seemingly neverending queue, so I decided to try one episode (“Vivian”) and I loved it. I’m so glad I finally gave it a listen.