I’m going to be 35 in a few days and I’ve spent the majority of my 35 years knowing a few things for certain about myself.

  1. I’m an introvert
  2. I only like to exercise in the morning

Like layers of concrete that could never wear- these were things I knew to be true to my personality.

I’ve always been connected to this idea that I’m an introvert and if you know anything about introverts, you know they gain energy by being alone and expend energy when in groups.

Knowing this, I’ve lived in this pattern:
Being around and engaged with people all day = extreme exhaustion, many times followed by headaches and fatigue.

Back in March, I was attending a leadership conference and something profound happened in my world. I noticed that I came home each night with the same amount of energy as I left the house with that morning. Surrounded by all of those people, for hours at a time, I still had energy! What?!?!? I was in such a state of shock, I had no other choice but to reflect.
What was different about this week? I was completely engaged with all of my peers, ALL DAY LONG, and still completely energized when I got home?

It was that day I realized, the girl I thought I was, wasn’t real.

Prior to the understanding that my thoughts create my experience of my reality, I would spend an extraordinary amount of time inside my head when around my peers. And, up until recently, I would do this unknowingly. I would think about things like: how quiet I was, if I should speak up, if I should share my ideas, if my ideas are good ideas…and on, and on.

But this time, I was able to be in the room, present in each moment and it turns out it wasn’t exhausting at all. In fact, it left me energized.

I wasn’t any louder. I certainly wasn’t the most outgoing in the room. But I was me – my authentic self, and I was in my element.

Except I was in the element I had always labeled as “out of my comfort zone”. When I looked back, I realized the only thing that separated me from being my usual, introverted self, was my lack of thinking. Instead of thinking, I was in the moment and the moment was good! Ideas were flowing and my peers even commented on how when I spoke, what I had to say was important.

That may not feel like a big deal for some people, but for me it was huge. It was like a lifelong handicap had suddenly lifted. At some point in my life, I created a shy person, labeled her an introvert, and began building walls of impossibility around her.

My insight from that week was this: I’m not an introvert- I just have introverted thoughts sometimes.

I was onto the game of life and my full human potential was at my fingertips. Nothing was going to hold me back!

Fast forward to last Friday night. As I was leaving my house to go on my evening jog, I realized I had begun an exercise regimen, in the evening, and was enjoying it! Wait a minute???? Remember the 2nd thing on my list of things I know to be true about myself? I spent the last year, not exercising because I didn’t have time in the morning anymore.

“I hate exercising at night” I thought to myself as I smiled on my way out the door…it happened again, another piece of concrete dissolved as quickly as it formed.

After all, it was never real to begin with.

We create these pictures of our personality and then live in them like they are made of cement. On the surface, it seems harmless. In business, many times, it begins with personality assessments and it’s a starting point for fine tuning strengths and minimizing weaknesses. However, what I’ve noticed about myself (and others I’ve coached) is that, over the years, these “personalities” create boundaries, and those boundaries create restrictions on our human potential. Then, we innocently go on living – for years – in the make-believe shells of who we think we are, and we forget we’re the ones who created the shell to begin with.

How much of your human potential is limited by things you know to be “true” about your personality?

Please leave a comment and let me know!

Brooke Wheeldon-Reece