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Introversion #5: Spend a Little Time Inside Your Head

11 Apr

A study of 95-year olds asked them “what would you do differently?”  The most frequent response was “spend more time reflecting.”

The most marvelous construct in the universe is the human mind.  In fact physicists’ anthropic principle could be inferred to state that “the universe was created to produce the human mind.”

Make some time in your life, every day if possible, to spend in deep reflection.  I hope you will be in conversation with the most interesting person you know, your greatest supporter and your harshest critic.  Doing this will certainly have a powerful positive impact on the quality of your life.

Susan Cain has recently writer a book on introversion, although I don’t recommend it to you because some of the Amazon reviews note that her presentation of the science is not very good.  I do recommend you spend a few minutes watching her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

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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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Introversion #3: Brain-storming

28 Mar

Last week we reviewed the importance of sleep, when cognitive processing occurs, and noted that moving from the spoken to the written word improves the rigor of thinking.  Going back to The Rise of the New Groupthink, Susan Cain notes that using e-brainstorming can actually enhance the process.  What she means is giving people time to reflect on a written Q and allowing them to sleep on the problem produces better results.  The e-format simplifies the logistics of the process.

Aside from the fact that brain storming gives zero time for reflection and effectively excludes most introverts, it is also possible for a facilitator or dominant  person(s) to the hijack the process.

I was in a strategic brain storming session some time ago where the facilitator consistently failed to write what the participants were saying thus hijacking the process.  When confronted about his behavior he was unable to change what was essentially a process of open manipulation.

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Introversion #2: Brain-storming

21 Mar


 

The Rise of the New Groupthink has a ton of interesting ideas in it. Research shows brain storming is not such a great idea if you are looking for creativity.  Let me reiterate and discuss this further.

In addition to the fact that it precludes input from introverts, who live in their heads and thus are very creative, it has some other problems.  Let’s take a look at these with me (an introvert) as the lab rat.

If you spontaneously ask me a Q in a group setting I can give you a fair to good answer, but if you let me sleep on it I will give you a better, perhaps superb answer.  It is clear that the brain cycles during sleep and that processing is going on during one of these stages.  “Sleep on it” is good advice for important decisions.

If you provide me with a written question and ask for a written response in a couple days, after I sleep on it, you will get a superb answer (I hope).  Consider the enormous difference between the spoken and written word.  These blogs are written and rewritten with care, what pops out of my mouth is, as my social director says, like a gumball machine.  Going from the spoken to written word improves the rigor of thinking by orders of magnitude.

The opportunity for reflection provides an enormous cognitive edge.  More next week.

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Introversion #1

14 Mar

Note from a colleague after the last week’s blog – “How about some good news?”  So let’s take a break from problem employees and examine some very good news for introverts, and everyone else too.

First, a simple test for introversion:

Would you rather stay home and do something you really enjoy or go to a large meeting of strangers expecting to interact with many people?

Next, a simple definition of introversion-extraversion:

Extraverts are emotionally energized by social interactions, the reverse is the opposite for introverts.  I am exhausted after too much social interaction.

Myth about introverts:

They are interpersonally less skilled than extraverts.  This is nonsense, interacting with others is a learned skill, it just takes more effort for introverts.  Although there is evidence some people cannot master social interactions.

Scientific fact about introversion-extraversion:

It has a large genetic component, more that half in most studies.  This explains why it’s harder for introverts to be socially skilled.

The Good News:

Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.

More about this next week.

There are a couple of ways that people can subscribe to this blog. Click the “+ Follow” link on the bottom right section of the site and enter your email address. This is a very easy way to receive the newest post as an email. The other way is via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The RSS Feed link is located on the right sidebar of the site, directly above the Categories section. Click on “RSS – Posts” to receive your posts in their favorite RSS reader. The RSS reader that many prefer is Google Reader (http://reader.google.com). It is free, well organized, and easy to use.

GoTo: The Rise of the New Groupthink

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general