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Revealing the Learnings, Lessons, and Lore of an Introvert Gone Mad!

An Introvert's Roadshow: Stretching to the Limit (or Beyond?)

In our early March blog, I advocated that introverts strive to not just survive stress but to equip ourselves to thrive!

In the past few months, I've put that to the test myself, tackling perhaps my most challenging foe yet.

I'll admit, sometimes I wondered if I'd gone mad!

Applying the Thrival Plan

I shared my own Thrival Plan which focuses on 3 areas: Mindset, Preparation, and Wellness. I created this Plan for myself in advance of my new book Spring Roadshow which included exhibiting at conventions, keynote speaking in front of 350, and visiting local groups of 10-50 to present key topics and engage with the audience. Though I'd presented before during my 30-year corporate career, this was different. I wanted to "engage" more than present and thus I didn't want to lean on PowerPoint slides to get me through.

In commemoration of National Biographer's Day on May 16th, my memoir, In Search of Courage, is on sale (paperback $10.99, ebook as low as $0.99) on Amazon. If you are struggling with your own introversion or confidence, this is a great place to start. You are not alone!

I often reflected on my Thrival Plan in advance of events to keep my mind in check. I especially reminded myself of these 4 pillars:

  • Being impactful, not perfect: I reminded myself I had essential information to share about independence for families with Down syndrome. I didn't have to be perfect - the smoothest professional orator - I just wanted to know my stuff and share it in an engaging (non-preachy) way.

  • Reflecting on successes: I reflected on my long-term and recent preparation. As I described in the Growth Rings Model, I've been heading toward my Frontier with my outreach for years. First writing blogs (Home), then being a frequent podcast guest (Neighborhood), and in 2022 leaning on my Toastmasters training to speak in front of others (Adventure). More recently, I scheduled some podcasts and created a YouTube series both for outreach and honestly more to practice my talking points in advance of the Roadshow.

  • Celebrating my own journey: I set 2 major objectives for my Roadshow- (1) to engage with others and help them on their family's own independence journey, and (2) for my own personal growth. I recognized this is a journey on both counts. I will become better and more comfortable as the year progresses. I wanted to practice self-compassion, reflect on the positives, and then note the areas of improvement. I have a vision of helping thousands throughout the year and evolving personally as a more confident and passionate advocate and leader. You'll note that I don't have a financial or book sales objective on my list. I've pondered this quite a bit. I'm fortunate I'm not relying on book sales to put bread on the table. And while book sales can reflect a successful talk or engagement, I don't want to "push" book sales to meet a number, so I'm happy to allow my 2 major objectives to drive my year.

  • Blocking out downtime: Balance has become a cornerstone of my personal growth, so I wanted to be sure not to schedule too much and regret it later. I also wanted to be sure to create some downtime before and after each event. That could be a few minutes or a couple of hours. I've used that downtime for decompression walks, journaling, reading, and reflecting on my Thrival Plan. This has really helped center me and remind me of my objectives this spring.

So How's It Going?

Generally, I feel the past couple of months have been quite successful. I'm accomplishing my "engagement objective" and "personal growth goal." I've exhibited at a convention with a few hundred, was the keynote speaker with my daughter in front of hundreds, hosted a magical Book Launch and Community Celebration, and just completed a four-stop Roadshow engaging with over a hundred at various Down syndrome associations. I've also felt the tingle of personal growth that comes with stretching one's self.

Steve, Gwendolyn, and Jennifer with Sarah and Jessica of the Kansas City Down Syndrome Innovations team

I've also discovered a silver lining. My wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Gwendolyn, have been critical parts of this journey. Gwendolyn has shared her own journey

at all the events and Jennifer has helped facilitate and contribute to the Roadshow events. It's become a family bonding experience that helps diffuse the tension and take some of the weight off my shoulders.

There have been bumps along the way. At an early March convention at which I was exhibiting, I went to an evening cocktail hour totally unprepared. I was so wrapped up in doing well at my exhibition booth, I forgot how much I loathed cocktail hours, so I failed to really prepare. After chatting with a few, I felt my energy drain. I struggled to engage with others and we decided to bail. The silver lining is that I did reflect in the moment and rather than force myself to stay, I avoided the damage and left to prepare for the next day's exhibit.

I've been scheduling more convention exhibits and panelist discussions as well as various regional Roadshows for the rest of the year to continue to tackle my two objectives. I'm sure I'll experience more ups and downs, but I strive to keep my eye on my growth throughout the year.

In the meantime, I've also enjoyed a bit of R&R with my son touring a bit en route to his summer internship in Ohio:

(L-R): Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, The Bean in Chicago

"What's Next?"

Since I retired nearly 5 years ago, I've reveled in a writer's (and publisher's) high producing three unique books (my memoir In Search of Courage, my leadership book The Corporate Introvert, and now The Essential Guide for Families with Down Syndrome. Each has strived to assist others while also helping me learn, grow, and engage. Others familiar with my path have asked what's next.

When I started writing in 2018, I considered these three books as passion projects I wanted to pursue. I felt each could help me discover my authentic self and also help others in their unique journey. I feel like passion is critical in writing because it is a long, lonely journey toward publication and without passion, it can easily stall. At this point, I don't have another topic calling my name. I want to share The Essential Guide with families throughout 2023. Next year may be more outreach, perhaps some coaching and mentoring for introverts and/or families with Down syndrome, or maybe a new book project will pop up.

In the meantime, I'm finding a unique calmness focusing on my two objectives for 2023.

Key takeaways for your own journey:

  1. Lean on your Planning strength

  2. Set simple objectives for whatever journey you are on

  3. Reflect kindly (self-compassion)

  4. Stretch kindly (not too much too soon)

  5. Ensure you have passion for what you choose to do

  6. Find balance (comfort vs. stretch) in your life

  7. Enjoy the ride


If you'd like more information about The Essential Guide for Families with Down Syndrome or want to track (or join) my speaking engagements, check out my Beyond Down Syndrome website.


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