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This is a pretty personal interview with the fantastic Clare Edwards from Change-Works. I asked Clare on the show to help me with some of my own issues around being an introvert, accepting criticism of work and negative feedback and also how to stay positive in the face of a huge task ahead. I'm in that mid-year slump right now, exhausted and busy with the day job and trying to finish the first draft of the novel as well as everything else.
This session really helped me, so I hope it helps you too!
[UPDATE 2020: Clare also features in Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts by Joanna Penn]
Clare Edwards is the Principal of Change-Works, specializing in inspiring potential in people. She is an expert in managing the change process, as well as encouraging personal development and resilience.
In this podcast, you will learn:
- The difference between introverts and extroverts as personality types, and how this relates to natural preferences for being energised, or how to recharge our batteries. Introverts are energised towards our inner world, concepts and ideas. Extroverts are energised by being around people. So introverts need to have ‘alone time' to re-energise. But that doesn't mean introverts are shy, so they can still be speakers and run workshops etc.
- Creative people can live too much in the inner world which may hinder us from sharing with others. To get your message out there, you may have to explore the opposite world. We have all the elements of personality in us, but they are all on a sliding scale. Embrace the side we are least comfortable with, and this will help us become more successful. For me personally, phoning people for these podcasts is still difficult.
- Introverts prefer non-verbal communication – which is natural for writers. Introverts also prefer to reflect first before they speak. Understanding the way you are can really help with how you feel about the way you are.
- Speakers and performers are not necessarily extroverts. Introverts can succeed as speakers as they are passionate about their message, and choose their words carefully. Video with author Malcolm Gladwell “speaking is a medium to share your message effectively”.
- Be yourself. Look at your strengths and start within your comfort zone and then expand from there. Reflect on your values and opinions around marketing and selling. Come from the perspective of being in the spirit to serve. You might also work with someone else who has contrasting personality aspects – or at least learn from them. The internet also offers the opportunity for introverted authors to reach a huge audience.
- Speakers are generally shocking speakers, so it makes a huge difference when you are a good speaker. Example of Roddy Doyle at the Hay Festival whose great talk inspired many book sales.
- On protecting self-esteem and encouraging resilience in the face of criticism and rejection. The difference between Thinkers and Feelers in terms of head vs heart, objective vs subjective reactions. Aim is to de-personalise feedback and step into the role of the critic. If is not their aim to attack you personally, or to hurt you. Feedback is an opportunity to refine or improve your work. Stop before opening your mouth to defend yourself. What is the intent of the feedback?
- Take time between receiving feedback and responding to it. Victor Frankl “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response, and in our response is our growth and our freedom“.
- Develop an attitude of persistence. Every rejection takes you one step closer to ‘yes‘. Look to your role models in terms of how much authors overcome to get to publication and an audience.
- On the successful mindset. What is the legacy that I want to leave? What will be my unique footprint when I move on? Use this to help us get on track. Before sleeping, what am I grateful for? Reflect and get perspective on your life. Look at where you are successful and get some balance.
- Stay present in this moment. It's one step at a time. Look at the one thing you can do today to get to your goal. Don't get depressed and self-pitying focusing on where you are not right now. Surround yourself with success and learn from people who have got there already. Look at the gift in the challenge and the journey on the way.
Thank you Clare. That was fantastic!
You can find Clare at her website Change-Works and also on Twitter @changeworks.
Transcript of episode with Clare Edwards
Joanna: Hi, everyone. This is Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn Podcast. And today, I'm interviewing Clare Edwards. Clare is the principal of Changeworks, and she specializes in inspiring potential in people. Clare is an expert on managing the change process as well as encouraging personal development and resilience. She has so much to share with authors. So welcome Clare.
Clare: Thank you.
Joanna: It's good to have you on the show. So just to give people a bit of background, we met at National Speakers and you really helped me with my speaking. We met at an actual conference and I told you that it was really hard for me to be there and with people all the time, because I'm an introvert and people don't energize me.
I was thinking about that for my listeners and many people sort of feel the same way. And I felt that you really gave me permission to be introverted and still be a professional speaker. So I'd like to explore that a little more today.
Start by explaining the difference between introvert and extrovert personality types, because being introvert doesn't mean just shy, does it?
Clare: No, Joanna. You're absolutely right. And the terms there, extroversion and introversion, they relate to our natural preferences for being energized. It comes from the origin with the psychologist called Jung and it's what he called the source of our psychic energy. But in simple terms, it's how we prefer to recharge our batteries.
So let's look at the root of these words. If we look at the Latin root of the word, “version” comes from “vitare,” towards, and extra being the outer, and of course, intro, being the inner.
An introvert is energized towards their inner world, their world of concepts, ideas, plans, and dreams. When it comes to being around people, their counterparts, extroverts, they're energized by their interactions with people but it's the opposite for introverts.
Introverts can be around a lot of people but they really need to retreat back into alone time to reenergize. And you may well find that yes, a lot of shy people are introverts, but this doesn't mean that introverts are shy, if you know what I mean. I mean, you get an introvert talking on a topic close to home, and they will talk till the cows come home.
Joanna: Oh, absolutely. That's interesting you said there, about being energized towards the inner world, because that to me says, well, I'm a writer. That's what I should be, right?
That would be the natural state for authors. Is that right?
Clare: Yes. It would be right. However, where it can hinder us is as creative people in sharing our message. So that's where it can be a bit of a challenge in terms of living too much in our inner world and in our headspace.
We could really benefit from understanding the world of the people of our opposite preference in terms of how do I really get my message out there. Because if I keep my message within the whole time, that's great, I might be creatively, literally, spiritually fulfilled but that's not putting bread on the table.
Joanna: I know. Good point.
We mentioned introversion and extroversion then, is it just the two poles? Is it a scale?
Clare: That's a really, really good question. The thing, when we're looking at personality type, Jo, is that we have every single element of personality within us. And it will be to a different sliding scale.
You may have someone who's highly introverted, who would then really, really struggle to interact with groups of people and probably be extremely shy, right over to the other end of the scale of someone who is highly extroverted, who speaks as they think, speaks very quickly, very fast with their hands and unaware of a personal space.
And I think what we're aiming to do, and this was one of the fundamental concepts of Jung psychology, is as we grow older, it's called “individuation.” If we can learn to really embrace the side that we're least comfortable with, then it brings us into a whole new world of interacting with more people and that's actually becoming more successful and more rounded.
Joanna: I like that, embracing the least comfortable part.
Clare: Yes. Start embracing your shadow side.
Joanna: That is a good one. And actually, it's funny you say that. I told you a minute ago, I've been doing these podcasts for about a year, I still get nervous before I phone people because speaking to people on the phone was something that I've always hated to do. And I kind of forced myself into it, to do this podcast.
Even though I know you personally, and we've met, which is unlike most of the people I interview, I still get nervous.
You're saying that's normal and it's good to embrace those experiences?
Clare: It's absolutely normal, and it's even more normal for people who are naturally introverted. That becomes a challenge, again, for people misunderstanding one another.
People who have a preference towards introversion prefer nonverbal communication. So they prefer to write. And they would also prefer to write in their communications. Thank goodness when email came about because it's an easier way for them to be able to express themselves as well.
Another key aspect of introversion, which really is the parallel opposite to the extroverts, is that introverts prefer to reflect first before they speak. So us doing something like this podcast is very much out of your comfort zone because you're having to speed up your thinking process in this whole question and answer interaction.
Now, you've probably already guessed from our interaction so far that I'm highly extroverted. I quite often put my size 16 foot in my size 18 mouth, and I wish I could just pull the words back in. But it's normal to be nervous. And I think, of course, also with an element of you wanting to do the best for your listeners.
Joanna: See, this is great. And just for people who are listening, this is why I wanted Clare on the show. She makes me feel so much better. And I think it also encourages other people who are listening, who are also types like me and try and do all the stuff but it does feel a bit unnatural. So I guess, given the other people who are on the same scale as me:
What tips can you give me and those other people for being more successful in sort of marketing, speaking, and other activities that might be more naturally suited to extroverts?
Clare: Well, yeah. Actually, before I answer your point of marketing, I'd like to share with you that when it comes to speaking and performing, it's a bit of a myth that because some performers are extroverted. And when you think about it, it does make sense because extroverts being energized by their inner world of ideas and concepts, when you couple that with intuition, and just probably happily stay in their own world but as I said earlier would probably soon starve. And introverts, I believe, succeed as speakers because they're so passionate and authentic about their message, and they chose their words carefully and would go out of their comfort zone to do so.
Actually, there's a great interview with author Malcolm Gladwell that was done by “The Guardian” newspaper where he really validates this message and says that speaking is not necessarily an act of extroversion. It is a medium to share your message effectively and reach a large audience.
In fact, you know, Jo, it's easier for an introvert to be alone on stage and speak to a thousand people than it is for them to be among, say, a group of a hundred networkers, busy networkers, because they can use the space and the distance on the stage to create their personal energy boundary.
So it's important for them to remember that they just need to hang on a little longer. If you're doing speaking, and just remember that you need to engage with the people afterwards who want to meet with you and not to hurry up into the nearest wine bar incognito.
Joanna: That's a good. Before we get into marketing, that's really a good point. And I must say, that was my problem at the conference was the intense networking time that just drained me, and you run out of things to say to people.
For people listening, that's quite a normal way to feel, I guess. I like that Malcolm Gladwell video too because he's a really shy man. Like, he seems very shy and yet he speaks all over the world to huge audiences. So yeah, I found that useful as well. So yeah, go on and talk to us about some tips.
Clare: The first piece of advice that I would invite your listeners to take on board is be yourself and look at your strengths. Don't try and turn yourself into an extrovert and soldier on because you'll probably end up giving up marketing all together.
Start with something that's in your comfort zone and build on it. For example, if you're good at one-on-one conversations, and what we're doing now, podcasting, go and do lots of them. Go and do lots of your one-on-one conversations until you feel comfortable to move up to something like small groups.
And this is just coming to my head, it might be a little bit of left-of-center, but you might want to reflect on your own values and opinions around the concept of marketing and selling because I think often, we get into our own way in terms of we're very proud of what we created and we have this stigma around selling that it's something that can be cheap and dirty. But you know, I'd like to invite you to consider coming from the perspective of being in the spirit to serve. Because if you're totally convinced about how your work can help other people, then they deserve the chance to hear it.
The other tip I might give you, and this is an example that worked really well with someone who's highly introverted. If you are highly introverted and you can afford it, or you've got a really good friend, get an extroverted sidekick, someone who loves networking, someone who would love to be your voice.
For example, Michael White, who's the creator of the personality profiling system I use that's called AusIDentities, he is highly introverted. So he basically uses me as his ambassador. I fly the flag and tell that to all the marketing events.
Now, I'm not sure how well that would work in your field. However, it's certainly a concept to explore. The internet has opened up a huge opportunity for introverted authors to access large audiences. And that's really where what you're doing, your passion can really, really help them. It isn't necessary now that physically going out to everybody. You can still stay comfortable in your introversion and access…well, access globally of course.
Joanna: That's really funny you say that because, still, I feel surprised about the emails I get from people. I get quite a lot of emails now from people who read my blog. And I sometimes just go, “Oh my goodness, people are actually reading my blog and watching my videos and stuff.”
And it's almost like a surprise because you do feel like you are kind of on your own, even when I do my videos on my own and things like that. So it's definitely very well-suited to sort of personality that likes sitting at home alone.
Clare: It is. But remember to get that balance or get yourself out there as well.
Joanna: Yes, oh, absolutely. And I would say that to everybody.
I want to come back to that sort of embracing the least comfortable. I wanted to get out there and do public speaking and do the podcast and things to actually push myself out of just being on my own. And it's been brilliant, I now love it. I'd definitely encourage other people to do it too.
Clare: I was just thinking, you know, when all the authors are rich and famous, then by having practiced this along the way, it's gonna be so much easier once you get that fame and glory.
Joanna: Oh, absolutely. And what was interesting recently is at The Guardian Hay Festival in England, Roddy Doyle, who's a huge author really in… A lot of people who had never read his books heard him speak and he was such a brilliant speaker that they all went and bought his books and he got a lot of press about how great his speaking was as an author. You really standout because most authors are actually terrible speakers. So that's another reason I'm doing it, obviously.
Moving away from the introversion, you also help people with resilience and what you call “bouncebackability” which is brilliant phrase. Writers and authors spend a lot of time being rejected by publishers, agents, and then even if they make it, like Stephanie Meyer, people just bash them all the time about something. And obviously, we're all sensitive to criticism.
How can we protect our self-esteem and how can we encourage resilience as authors?
Clare: What a great question and a topic close to my heart. I'll aim to answer this in two distinct points and let's see if we can get into the head of the critics a little bit.
Going back to personality preference again, when it comes to seeing and evaluating information, there are two distinct leaning preferences.
The first preference is towards being objective and rational. And it's unfortunately termed “thinking.” So people with a thinking preference, they're comfortable with critical feedback because they can depersonalize it and use it as an opportunity for improvement. Now thinkers typically check in with their head first and their heart second. They'll get straight to the point and they don't beat around the bush.
But many authors, as I suspect, Jo, would lean towards the opposite preference, which is when you're making decisions and evaluations subjectively and based on your personal values. And again, it's unfortunately termed “feeling.” So on the one hand we have thinking which is objective and rational, and then we have feeling which is subjective and values-driven.
People with a feeling preference can really struggle with criticism, can be butting up against their values, and hence, hurting the might of the core and that identity level. Because feelers will check in with their heart first and their head second. And then you'll also find out they'll be much more diplomatic and tactful in their use of language.
Well, think about the role of a critic, Jo. Where do you think their preference might lie? Thinking or feeling?
Clare: Absolutely. They're leaning towards the rational. So they're less skilled at being diplomatic. So rule number one is really if you can aim to depersonalize that feedback and step into the role of the critic, it's not in their sphere of conception and understanding as to how might this feedback impact the emotions of the writer. It's not in their scope of understanding, to be honest with you.
And if I may jump straight on to the second point as well, and the core element of being able to bounce back, and that's about learning the art of persistence, developing an attitude of persistence and being able to reframe the particular situation at hand.
And listen to this, it makes sense. If you think about this statistically, every rejection that you get as an author, every “no” that you get will take you one step closer to “yes.” Because if on average, you're gonna be rejected 50% of the time, every time somebody tells you exactly where to go, that's great because you're getting closer to your “yes.”
One of the characteristics of emotionally resilient or optimistic people is around their persistence. Now, this is not to be confused with blind optimism. And I really hope that authors, the same as any of us who receive critical feedback, would be able to see it as an opportunity to refine or improve their work.
And when I'm feeling a little battle-torn and achieving my goal is starting to feel like swimming through treacle, one of the things that really picks me up is I look to my role models of persistence.
Where would we be today if Thomas Edison hadn't tried over 9,000 times in his quest to give us a light bulb? And yet, you think, in the literally world, regardless of your opinion of their quality of work, we wouldn't have the likes of John Grisham's “A Time to Kill,” we wouldn't have Alex Haley's “Roots,” or we wouldn't have Richard Bach's “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” if they'd given up after their first few rejections.
So in summary, Jo, if we can learn the art of depersonalization and increase our persistence, it might give us a different perspective.
Joanna: Nicely said and very hard to do.
Clare: Absolutely. But you know, you move mountains by moving small stones.
Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. I want to come back on that depersonalizing criticism. As you were saying that, I was thinking, “I do this in my day job as well.” I emotionalize any form of feedback, calling it feedback or criticism, you know.
And it's interesting. My husband is a scientist in that sort of very critical tradition. And he takes it very, very well. And what you're basically saying is that's a different mindset.
How can I learn to be more like that? Do I have to stop every time anyone says anything and before opening my mouth to defend myself?
Clare: Oh, that's a really, really important point. The key is in the time that you take between what you receive as feedback and the response that you give yourself, either whether it's externally or internally.
It's about having choice. When you receive critical feedback, you do have a choice as to how you react or you respond. And one of the things that I run off often, and I don't know if you've heard of the great Viktor Frankl?
Clare: Who wrote the book “Man's Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl was an Australian psychologist who survived the Nazi concentration camps. He said, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. And in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
So it's thinking about, firstly, where is that other person coming from, because when we're receiving the message, we're receiving it according to our values, and our beliefs, and our identity.
But think of where is that messenger coming from? What is their intent? Really? Is their intent to hurt you and to belittle you? I don't think so. I think their intent is being the critical analyst.
The critical analyst seeks continual improvement both in themselves and others. So they see that they're doing you a great honor and a great service. Believe you me, if they didn't think you were worth it, they wouldn't bother at all. So in their world, critical feedback is something that they would really welcome.
If they could learn to maybe personalize a little bit more and we can learn to depersonalize a little bit more. Suggest, chat to your husband about this and understand what his thinking process is when he's giving and receiving feedback. It really is a difference in preference.
And sometimes, I think those of us who are so values-driven, that can sometimes get in our own way. And maybe when we look towards our values, think about, “What if? What if we were able to learn to take this feedback as an opportunity for improvement? Have a go. What have you got to lose?”
Joanna: Yeah, and I think that it's really good advice. Having written three books, and I had another, but that was nonfiction. With my first fiction novel, I'm about to start revising my first draft, and then I will be taking it to an editor. So this is quite close to my heart at the moment. It's sort of, here's my book and I'm gonna pay somebody to be critical of my book, and that is about improving and making it a better book, I guess.
I think what you're saying is that basically there's no need to be defensive. It's not about somebody attacking you, it's more about improvement.
Clare: Absolutely. And you know, if you think about this, maybe it's important to revisit the why, the big why of what you're doing.
Ask yourself the question, would I rather never get my manuscript intact, verbatim, and reach no one? Or am I prepared to expand my perspective slightly and take this feedback on board and reach my goal of getting published?
Now this is not about compromise, Jo, because values are just beliefs that we hold. And beliefs are thoughts that we've repeatedly held and thought until they become real for us. They're not the ultimate truth or reality. So sometimes it serves as to reflect and question to what extent this is serving us.
And I understand where you're coming from, because I have the same preference for feeling as well. And as I am going through life, I'm learning to become more objective and more rational, and I can actually see some benefit in it. It is a hard journey though, I agree. We're human. We're human. It's our baby.
Joanna: Yeah, it is. The other thing that I really like about your website, and your speaking, and everything is that you have this really wonderfully positive view on life and helping people achieve their goals and their happiness. And the successful mindset is obviously very important to that.
I wondered if you could share some tips about mindset, as this is really critical for authors and writers. You can get bogged down in detail and years of hard slog and, you know, you kind of forget the bigger picture.
Maybe you could just share a bit on successful mindset.
Clare: It's interesting that you say bigger picture, Jo, because I think one of the most empowering questions that we can ask of ourselves is “What is the legacy that I want to leave? What will be my unique footprint after I've moved on from here?” And I think in really understanding that and knowing it, we can use it to keep us motivated and to get us back on track, and also to take the ego out of what we do. Because, you know, whether we accept it or not, I think, there's enough load of ego-driven in what we do.
I think, also as well, is if… And this reflect to what I was saying of ideas around marketing and selling, I think if we can live in the spirit to serve and to be grateful… Now, before I go to sleep every night without fail, I go through my day and I list all the things that I've been grateful for, even the crap, because I know there's a lesson in there somewhere. And I think it really helps us to get perspective.
And also, one of the things, and this comes from the essence of positive psychology as well, because psychology has been long focused on pathology, on disease and what goes wrong, and thankfully, now we have a positive psychology movement that focuses on what we do right. And I think, you know, look at where you are successful and get some balance in this. Now, let me give you an example. You may be absolutely broke, but do you have your health? You know, they say the first wealth is health. [inaudible 00:26:16]. Do you have a supportive family or a social network? And if you have friends, a few or far between, do you have a spiritual connection? If we can focus on what we're blessed with and appreciate it, then I truly, honestly, believe the rest will come.
I think we get bogged down. And I think this is…I think we are victims of sometimes of our nurturing and society in the media that we get bogged down with looking at that which is our weakness or our downfall, and get lost and forget to focus on that which we already have and are blessed with. And believe you me, it can really give you perspective.
So if you're feeling sorry for yourself, go out there and speak to a homeless person. Go out there and do some voluntary work and get that perspective. Sorry, I'm getting off the soapbox now.
Joanna: No, I think that's really important. And perspective can sometimes be hard, I mean, for authors, specifically, looking at finishing your novel and getting published. These are the things that all of us want. And yet, you know, sometimes you just… Well, like yesterday, you know, I've been really tired lately, you know, middle of the year and everything. It's winter here in Australia. You know, I went to a bookshop because, you know, that always generally cheers me up. And then I'm standing there in the bookshop looking around going, “Oh my god, all of these other people are successful authors. How can I ever reach this stage?” So what normally is very positive for me, turned into this kind of self-pitying occasion.
Clare: Wonderful. Okay, so what you're doing, Jo, is you're projecting yourself into the future. And I think if you can just stay as present as you can, what Eckhart Tolle called “The Power of Now,” it's one step at a time. So you're standing there in the bookshop. You're looking around at what everybody else has succeeded in and what you haven't succeeded in. And to say, “Okay, what would be the one thing, the one thing that I can do when I get home or I can pick my phone out of my bag, what's the one thing that I can do that might take me just one step closer to where they are?”
And I think, and you're doing that in the work that you're doing. You're interviewing successful authors. They say, you know, in order to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. And I know it is not as simple as that. However, there is no magic pill. We can't wake up the next morning and be successful authors. You know, you see people, you see successful performers, successful authors and you know that they've done the hard job. And some of them have got lucky breaks and some of them haven't. And it's no different.
Maybe, I know, with performers, yeah, there's an opportunity now in YouTube. I don't know if there's something similar for authors that they can start reading their books on YouTube and get instant success. But remember though, [inaudible 00:29:25] and the gift in the challenge, would we really want to be instant overnight successes without the lessons that we're learning in the journey on the way? So don't focus on the destination, focus on the journey. Stay as present as you can and just think, “What is the one step I can take today to get me closer.”
Joanna: Oh, that's marvelous. Thank you for that. I also find sometimes just going to bed helps.
Clare: [inaudible 00:29:52].
Joanna: Yeah. Everything is always better the next morning. That's all been really, really helpful. And you know, that was quite a personal call for me, actually. I don't normally share as much as I've shared in that. So I hope people listening have learned a lot from that and from Clare. So we need to finishing, but what I wanted, perhaps you could just tell people a bit more about your business and what you do and also where people can find you.
Clare: Oh, thank you, Jo. Yes, my business is called Changeworks. You can tell I'm positive. I mean, just look at the name of my business, Changeworks, doesn't it? Some people hate change. But yeah, I work with businesses here in Australia. And of course, you can tell from my accent, I'm from the U.K. So I've done a lot of corporate work in the U.K. But I work with people to help them understand and embrace difference in the personality type work that I do. I work with businesses in helping them to develop a culture whereby they can attract and retain the talented people that they've got, so you know, making work a great place to be. And sometimes, I run out there in the trees and up on the road courses and run team building activities as well. So I've got quite a broad range of services.
My passion, however, Jo, the thing that really gets me out of bed in the morning, is around helping people to be able to bounce back from adversity. I think, we all deserve… We have an innate human right to be happy. So how you can find me? My website is change-works.com.au. And on Twitter, I'm @changeworks without a hyphen.
Joanna: Fantastic. Well, thanks every so much for your time, Clare. That was brilliant.
Clare: I thoroughly enjoyed it, Jo. Thank you. And good luck to all of the authors out there. Believe in what you do. Please don't give up, because otherwise you're doing us a disservice and we wanna hear your wonderful creation.
Joanna: Thanks for listening today. I hope you found it helpful. You can get more information on writing, publishing options, sales, and promotion for your book at www.thecreativepenn.com, and that's Penn with double “n.” And you can also get your free “How to be an Author” workbook at www.howtobeanauthor.com. See you next time.