Get out of your comfort zone with Free Trait Theory

by Tom Leurquin, Ignite Bainbridge 2012 alumnus “Clean out your garage

Do personality differences affect a person’s ability to give an Ignite presentation? The simple answer is “No.” The general perception is that extroverts just get up in front of an audience and start talking and are perfectly comfortable being on stage, and introverts simply wouldn’t do it or aren’t capable of doing such a thing. The truth is a bit more complex than that. Both introverts and extroverts are more than capable of getting in front of a group of people and talking about a passion they have.

An extrovert, upon hearing the applause, may think, “Wow! They really liked me and what I had to say. I really feel invigorated by all this energy. I love the buzz!” An introvert may instead have thoughts along these lines: “They were able to get something out of the information I gave them. That’s nice. I’m sure glad that’s over with.”

How can an introvert get up in front of an auditorium full of people and give a presentation…something that would be a few universes away from their comfort zone? The same way that an extrovert can learn to be quiet at a business meeting, even though they are biting their tongue and sitting on their hands to control themselves from blurting out opinions. It’s called Free Trait Theory.

Free Trait Theory states that we all can break away from basic personality traits under certain circumstances. It explains why an introvert can willingly and eagerly get in front of a crowd of people and give a speech, or why an extrovert can be quiet at times. When a person does something out of a personal sense of passion, about a belief that is at their core, they can break out of their basic personality type and still be true to who they are. Even though the person is not acting within the typical range of their personality, they are still honoring who they are and what they believe. This is not a false persona. This is healthy. On the other hand, doing something against your basic personality/nature that you don’t really believe in is not healthy, and this inauthenticity will lead to burn-out and moral ambiguity.

If you are an introvert, and somewhere between one-third and one-half of us are, just speak about your passion and you’ll be fine. If you are an extrovert, just speak about your passion and you’ll also be fine. Personality types do make a difference in how we approach a situation and what our reaction is to them. However, it makes no difference on whether we can give the presentation. Simply speak about your passion.