Ingrid Palmer: Ambiversion – blending the conflicting sides of ourselves

3 hands pulling back a garment to reveal a silver and diamond encrusted Chainmail undergarment
A photograph of hands revealing a silver and diamond encrusted Chainmail

“There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.” 

“Anthem”, Leonard Cohen

This month I had the opportunity to touch base with the wonderful Ingrid Palmer, Sync Ontario Alumni storyteller and active community advocate in housing, child welfare, protection and Black Voices United.   Ingrid has an excellent and growing reputation as a speaker and performer, and she and I spoke about what’s been happening since Sync in June – our first online programme in Ontario.

“Sync has changed things for me, in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” said Ingrid. “Everything I do is about amplifying voices and reclaiming power – my own and others – and doing this publicly.”  And yet, working with the Sync matrix, Ingrid identified networking as an area of weakness. Or, as Ingrid put it so eloquently, “how I simply ‘suck’ at networking!”

The Sync leadership matrix, a model designed with our colleague Mark Wright from People Create Ltd at the inception of Sync, remains a staple part of our Sync Intensive course both face to face and now online.  The matrix allows us to map our leadership confidence and connection with self, our organisations and projects, and our wider constituencies and stakeholders. It can be quite a wake-up call to see reflected back through using the matrix the areas where things need some attention.

What Ingrid identified was the sometimes unnerving mix that she holds within her personality which makes her both an extrovert and an introvert.  The blend of these two traits is sometimes referred to as ambiversion or omniversion.

Jung popularised the terms extraversion (his spelling) and introversion, but he also acknowledged that they did not exist as polarities on a continuum but rather as traits that we all have, though one is likely to be dominant over the other. A challenge for us in our leadership is to identify how we can move towards controlling or shifting these traits within ourselves as part of the self-actualisation process, thus enabling us to step fully into our power and to capitalise on our propensities.

Ingrid shared with us the important role that introversion has played in her leadership development process because it allows her to reconfigure and to rest.  It can also have its drawbacks: “I’m in control when I’m delivering, I relentlessly prepare and when I step out I’m all there, yet the aftermath is when I tend to retreat back into my shell.” 

Since Sync Ingrid has been thinking more on how she might tackle her reluctance to network when she’s not performing or on the podium.  Is there a way of doing this that allows her to extend her influence further and get more of what she wants “I’m not how people imagine me to be. When I step out of the light, I’m a softer shade of myself.”

So how has Ingrid managed to build her confidence and move into the networking space, connecting more effectively with audiences? In part, Zoom has meant she hasn’t had to deal with being in the ‘real’ space and its challenges. Entering that space has, in the past, ended with her facing a wall because she can’t see, with people not telling her that she’s facing the wrong way. This kind of demoralising experience has certainly played a part in her reluctance to step confidently off the stage and into the group.

Ingrid’s leadership metaphor has proved really useful in this respect.  She had identified chainmail, of the beautiful and sparkly sort but nonetheless impregnable, as her metaphor.  Since Sync, she has realised that she doesn’t want to be completely defended: there needs to be a chink in her protective layer to allow her to connect in a reciprocal relationship with her audiences. There’s got to be that gap, that portal that connects, says Ingrid: that chink that “let(s) the magic out.”

Watch this short video to hear more about how working with Sync has enabled Ingrid Palmer to extend more into herself:

Ingrid is a finalist at Speaker Slam – The Grand Slam which takes place from 3-5pm on November 28th 2020. She’ll be wearing her chainmail on the inside, and letting chinks of light out to highlight the opportunities that will be tumbling her way thereafter.

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