Cory W. Sharp is an intern architect at FEH Design in Des Moines and the current president of the Young Professionals Connection.
For anyone who knows me well, they know that I’m always quick to jump on board. Even in the expression “When one door closes, another one opens,” I’d rather find a window than wait for that other door to open.
I tend to process information quickly, often going with my gut, and feel comfortable making decisions in short order and moving on to the next thing. Some might consider this a great asset to have -- recognizing opportunity and seizing it -- while others might be quick to categorize me as an overly confident millennial who needs to slow down and pay some more dues before tackling greater responsibilities.
On the other hand, there’s also a style like my friend Kyle Oppenhuizen utilizes, the current president of YPIowa and communications manager at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Kyle is known for listening to different opinions, thoroughly thinking through complex issues and considering all possibilities before reacting. Instead of seeing Kyle as a thoughtful and successful problem-solver with strategic insight, some might try to label him as not having an opinion because he does not pre-emptively react.
They couldn't be more wrong. While Kyle and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum in the way we process information and make decisions, I think his approach is a great way to do things, too.
Why? For starters, because I hate labels. Too many people like to categorize things -- label them -- because it makes their lives easier. If we know what category something belongs to, we know how to handle it. But labels create familiarity. And, like the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt.
It's far too easy to miss out on a great relationship or opportunity when we take the easy way out by slapping a label on a person, place, situation or thing.
Someone with my personality might get high marks in the leadership column because we're eager to take charge and get things done, while a more introverted person might get overlooked.
In fact, according to a USA Today poll, 65 percent of executives indicated introversion was a barrier to rising through the corporate ranks. But there's plenty of research that shows people who come off as shy are often great leaders because they're some of the best listeners. That makes them good consensus builders. I think they have an advantage, too, because when they do talk, people are likely to listen.
While my eagerness and confidence works for me, Kyle's careful approach works well for him -- and could work well for you, too.
In the end, it's all about finding the right style for you. What you think might be your greatest weakness could actually be your greatest strength.
Don't sweat labels like "extrovert" or introvert." Just ditch the labels and embrace your own style.
In other words, be yourself.
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