When I think of Katherine Mackenzie-Smith I immediately think of: coffee, Netflix and introverts — which isn’t surprising because Katherine is an incredible example of someone who has truly found their own way to shine as an introvert.
She is someone who — in a quiet and gentle way — is making a huge difference in the lives of introverts and the way they show up in the world.
As a “self-confessed quiet achiever” some of her quiet (albeit amazing) achievements include (but are most definitely not limited to) being an assistant trainer with the Beautiful You Coaching Academy, the host of The League of Extraordinary Introverts podcast, and releasing Shhh… the ultimate guide for introverts. She has also been an online magazine covergirl, called a “self help guru” by Elle Magazine, and been featured in places like CLEO magazine and Collective Hub.
Katherine is an incredible example of what is possible for introverts when they decide to embrace their true nature and find their own way to shine.
And I know for me, having Katherine as my coach last year was an incredible experience — one that really helped me to embrace and honour my unique energy, to not let it hold me back and to find my own way of putting myself out there that felt good to me.
In this interview, Katherine is sharing the experiences that have led her to where she is today, what fully embracing her introverted nature has looked like (and what not honouring this has looked like), her best advice for introverts who want to start embracing their true nature and how to not let it hold you back from what you really want, and so much more. Enjoy!
When I started to really understand and embrace my introverted nature, many experiences in my life became clear as those ‘defining moments’. That’s obviously how our brains work to make sense of the world that we live in, but it’s really helped me to own those stories and grow from them. When I was 15, I remember my entire grade being told that we were about to choose our senior subjects that would determine what we studied at university and then, ultimately, the career for the rest of our lives. Talk about pressure! I loved TV and movies, and so – then and there – I made the decision to work in the film and television industry. The thing with me is that, when I finally make a decision and set my mind to something, I make it happen.
Another ‘dot’ was my first job, at my ‘dream company’ – the only place in Brisbane I knew to get into the industry. After landing that job with basically nothing but heart and passion, I got fired six months later for ‘being too quiet’ and seeming as though I wasn’t enjoy the job. Cue utter devastation as my 21-year-old self thought I was working really hard and doing the best I could.
Again, in Sydney, I spent years working away to land the role I’d been working up to, as a television producer and I kept coming up against every kind of rejection possible. Less experienced people getting opportunities ahead of me (even though I was working my butt off), a boss and mentor telling me that I was good at my job but the role I was asking her to recommend me for just ‘wasn’t right for my personality’, and so on and so on.
The more that I went with my default – to work hard and do a good job – the more the industry proved to me that this wasn’t the way to play the game, and I just wasn’t interested in doing what it took to get noticed and get promoted.
The second I decided to take my fun blogging passion project and turn it into something more, I experienced a level of ease that I never have before. Don’t get me wrong, starting and running your own business is challenging in ways I could never have imagined, but never once have I been told that my personality isn’t right for the work I do as a coach for introverts. In fact, all evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary. The dots of my past experiences have definitely led me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t be here without them.
I don’t think it was until I realised that I was attracting so many quiet and sensitive, introverted souls that I really fully embraced being an introvert myself. I’ve always been aware of it, but it wasn’t something I’d been consciously supporting or understanding in myself. When I started supporting other introverted souls to better understand themselves and use their quiet nature as a strength, it was as though I gave myself permission to do the same. I’m so grateful for that, because it’s made all the difference in my business and I know that helping others do the same has helped them as well.
Ooh I even know when I’m doing it now – just as Brene Brown always talks about the struggles she has in her life with living her work, I find it the same! I always know that I’m not taking care of myself when I feel frustrated, cranky, or irritated for no real reason. Sometimes it’s in a really loud and obvious way, other times it’s an under-the-surface anxiety that I can’t quite put my finger on. This always means that I’ve been taking on too much lately, I haven’t been listening to what I need, and I’m basically burning myself out. The more overwhelmed I get, the more frantic I become and that’s when the overthinking, analysis paralysis kicks in. It’s way more fun to identify it early on before it gets to that stage, but it can be super sneaky!
When I’m taking care of my introverted self, I feel this sense of ease and flow that I don’t think I’d ever really known before. It’s when I’m less ‘in my head’ and much more relaxed about…everything. This usually comes from asking myself simple questions, such as ‘what do I need right now?’. It’s when I’m journalling or meditating or exercising regularly, to give my mind some peace. And it’s when I step back and get some perspective, give myself permission to have down time when I need it, and stop feeling bad about everything (this is a big one).
Firstly, be aware of what makes you feel really good and what makes you feel rubbish. Most of us are floating through life, completely unaware that there are very specific things that are affecting them in one way or another. If a certain task, or person, or place makes you feel overwhelmed or drained, paying attention to this and actually knowing, is the first step to changing it. Same with the things and the people that make you feel energised and alive. Ultimately, the goal is to try and reduce as much of the first bunch of things, and increase the latter but, to start with, even being able to see how certain people or certain aspects of your life affect you.
Secondly, it’s the well worn adage that you are enough. If you are more introverted, it’s likely that you’ve found yourself feeling shame or guilt around certain facets of your life or even your personality such as saying no to something, or crossing the street to avoid talking to someone. The more you understand about your introversion, the more you’ll learn to accept that you likely have different needs to the ‘social norms’ you’ve come to accept, and it’s time to stop feeling bad about those things!
Lastly, I think it’s about asking yourself what you really need, and then honouring that. How many times have you agreed to something knowing that you’ll inevitably cancel? Or, worse, you’ve gone along with and wished you’d just said no? Take the time you need to process and give a straight answer based on how you really feel. Only you can teach the people in your life how to treat you, and the relationships and boundaries that you have are completely in your control. Working out what you need and creating beautiful boundaries is about self respect and respect for the other people in your life. When you communicate this, you open the doors to greater understanding and deeper connection with your people, and that can only be a good thing.
It’s not true! When you believe this, you’re letting fear run the show and the price you pay for that is that you live behind the excuse that you’re not enough. This is why I started my podcast, The League of Extraordinary Introverts, to prove that there are introverts everywhere making an impact on the world and doing things that they are deeply passionate about. Introverts make up 1/3 to 1/2 the population and if every quiet or shy introverted person let this fear or this misguided belief run their life then the world would be missing books like Harry Potter, talks like Brene Brown’s TedX talk, and social media platforms like Facebook.
Being quiet, or shy, or introverted comes with some challenges sometimes (like anything), but there are so many strengths that come with it as well such as being a great listener, a deep thinker, a highly creative or sensitive person who can help other people in wonderfully unique ways, and so on. I believe that every person has the ability to make their mark on the world, we all have something to offer, but don’t let fear get in the way of you doing the thing that you’re here to do.
The biggest issue I’ve come to realise, in doing this work, is that most people don’t really know what being an introvert even means. Sure, most people have some idea, but the world hasn’t necessarily been quick to explain or celebrated the traits of the introvert. This has led to a lot of confusion, a lot of shame, and a lot of childhood pain and limiting beliefs because we don’t really fit into what we’ve been brought up to believe is the ‘normal’ way to be. Shhh, is all about ignoring that and, instead, understanding yourself better to start to write your own rules, communicate better with the people in your life, and get to really know what you need so that you can thrive as a quiet soul. It’s kind of an 80-page permission slip to ‘be you’, and I hope that it helps introverts realise that who they are is kind of extraordinary and that they’re definitely not alone.
I’m currently obsessed with… Daredevil Season 2, Brene Brown, and coffee (always)
The BEST part of my day today was… Getting the warm and fuzzies because of a string of beautiful feedback about the work I’m doing. It’s amazing to get to do something you love so much, but to know that it’s affecting people so much that they have to share it with you, well that is pretty special!
A book I absolutely love and would recommend is… Quiet by Susan Cain, hands down.
The last time I felt truly infinite was when… I realised that all I’ve done to get to where I am is put one foot in front of the other. I don’t have the power to decide on the outcome, so all I can do is let go of thinking that I do and keep making decisions in this moment. And that’s pretty wonderful, really.
∞ So… I’m an introvert: In this post I’m sharing what being an introvert has been like for me, such as when I first discovered I was introverted and a dot-point history of how this has played out in my life.
∞ 5 things that have helped me to embrace being an introvert and not let it hold me back.
∞ What I’ve learnt from Shhh by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith, including a giveaway of this ultimate guide for introverts.
∞ 17 introverts share their insights on how they embrace their introverted nature.
Katherine Mackenzie-Smith is a life and business coach for introverts, assistant life coach trainer, writer, and speaker. As a self-confessed quiet achiever and passion-fuelled dream chaser, she’s on a mission to empower extraordinary women to step into their quiet power, discover their energetic secret sauce, cut through the noise and find their own way to shine. Connect with Katherine at katherinemackenziesmith.com and get free instant access to the League of Extraordinary Introverts group.
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