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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Coiled Spring Introvert

Last Thursday my company had an all-day learning event held at our corporate headquarters.  My role in the event as two fold:

1) I had overall responsibility for the event's planning and execution.

2) I was responsible for kicking the event off, introducing some speakers and providing closing remarks.

Overall the day itself went very well, at least in terms of the feedback I received.

Here's the first of several confessions I have about the event though:  it literally sucked everything out of me.  Since the event, I've felt an off sense of internal vacancy, as if my mind wasn't truly present inside of my head, as if I were in a kind of mental fog.  I've felt emotionally out of balance, and it has been difficult at times to focus (negative side effect:  I didn't do nearly as well as I should have on my graduate class final exam).

As to what caused this, I know that it wasn't the planning aspect of the assignment, nor was it the directing of "stuff" during the event.  More than anything else, it was the public speaking part.  And for the record I enjoy public speaking.  What's more, I don't think it was my opening remarks, nor was it any of the introductions I did during the day.  Rather, I am reasonably sure that these feels of mental fogginess arose from my closing remarks.

Now by way of context, I had planning on making closing remarks all along, but half way through the day my departmental vice president, who happened to be at the event, asked that I include a reference to something in particular in my closing remarks.  It wasn't difficult to include this new point, but it did necessitate my changing the kinds of remarks I has already written.  No bother, as I had some time during another of the day's workshops to think  through my re-tooled comments.  The actual comments, as revised, were pretty good, even by my own personal standards.  Why?
  • My deliver was very sound from a technical perspective.  No verbal distractors (the "ummm" you hear some people say when they are results from a disconnect in timing between the brain and the lips), my tone and my inflection were spot-on.  I sounded genuinely passionate.  I was keenly focused.
  • The my revised content married my old comments with the new request in a way that was seamless.
  • I received tons of positive feedback afterwards, including a very nice note from my departmental vice president.
Yes, I stood there in the main auditorium of my company's world headquarters, in front of about 175 of my fellow associates and about 25 guests, and hit a home run.

But again, the whole exercise completely drained me.

Now I had slept well the night before and I was very, very focused throughout the day.  I did all of the things I had to do (including meeting all of the speakers) to make the day a success.  Before my speaking "gigs" I tried to relax and concentrate on the work at hand.  Again, it all paid off, at least in terms of the actual execution.

So why the vacant feeling?

As near as I can figure, it must be a coiled spring effect of sorts.  What do I mean by that?  Well I concentrated so much, I focused so much, I was so present in the mental spring being compressed...that after the moment was gone...the spring was "sprung"...there was nothing left.  Now I'm also very much the introvert, which means that, while I can do a  great job with the socializing aspects of any assignment (and for this event  there was a ton of socializing), at the end of the day those kinds of things take energy away from me.  That vacant feeling?  I suspect it was the net result of having no real energy left.  Again, the spring had been sprung.  Recharging might take a while.

* * * * * * * * * *

Post Script
I wrote most of the above posting on Sunday but I am finishing it on Monday morning (I have the day off...a wise move, given the above).  I slept well last night and I can feel some of that vacant feeling dissipating, slowly but surely.  Yet more proof of the coiled spring introvert in action.

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