Introversion #4: The Power of Solitude

4 Apr

Isaac Newton:  “A mind for ever/ Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”

–  William Wordsworth

Visiting with managers, I often hear them complain about being interrupted during the day by people bringing issues to them.  It may well be they are micro-managers who demand final decision on everything. But more likely they are suffering from the bane of an “open door” policy. This is one reason I am not much of a fan of such practices.  Open doors draw a non-random group of your employees and often exclude the people you want to hear from.  Managing is a proactive endeavor and you get the very best from people when you take the time to ask.

Being constantly interrupted also precludes the possibility of experiencing “flow.”  This happens when you are working on a solitary task and your mind and body coordinate to produce extraordinary results.

Research shows that multi-tasking is simply fast switching.  Many people are proud of their ability to multi-task.  Sadly, these people will never experience flow.

I once worked with a CEO who closed his door and turned off his phone for 90 minutes every day after lunch.  He noted that people quickly adjusted to his inaccessibility and he had his best insights about the business during these moments of solitude.

For me the environments producing my best insights and solutions to problems are swimming and showering.  The absence of interruption, inward focus and warm water create what seems to be the opportunity for productive thought.

Most of us, particularly introverts, function better when we have some daily time to ourselves.  Even extreme extraverts can benefit from such “downtime.”  Do you have enough downtime and where are times and places where you have the opportunity to reflect?

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