The topic I’ve chosen to write about relates distantly to a previous blog of mine life on tour, as it is about Introversion. (loneliness and introversion are often mentioned in the same breath) I’m currently reading a book called quiet and it’s based on introverts. The author argues that our modern world has become obsessed with extrovert personalities and team-work. I couldn’t agree more. I want to share my views because over the years, my preferred way of being has ebbed and flowed and after re-visiting my past, it occurred to me that my best work has come from periods of solitariness.
There are a number of good examples of how great work has been achieved during moments of solitude in my life. If you were to look back at your pasts, I’m sure you would see a similar theme. The problem is, in our culture being solitary is viewed as unwilling and unfriendly. We judge people in groups far differently to how we judge individuals. What’s worse is when you’re the solitary individual, you can feel the exteriority judging you thus creating a sense of unease and uncertainty. I do not believe this is anybody’s desired agenda, it just happens. One of life’s awkwardnesses is when you witness somebody who is deeply introverted trying to act as an integral part of a team. It just doesn’t work. The fault isn’t their’s or the teams necessarily, it’s just our misguided inherent values taking effect. It’s worth thinking about how many people could’ve become geniuses if only their culture would’ve accepted who they were and allowed them to live their way.
We have to learn to love the solitary types. Ideas rarely form whilst we’re amongst other people, they are almost always created during moments of solitude.
Which leads me nicely to the word ‘Teamwork!’ Businesses love this word, as do sporting organisations. I imagine there are companies displaying synonymous slogans throughout their workplaces, trying to prime their employees and remind them of the importance to ‘work together’. Did you know Google’s employees spend up to 20% of their salary-paid workload on their own projects. Google seem to understand the importance of ‘personal creativity’ time when it comes to inventing world-class products. No surprise then that they are one of the World’s biggest companies continually innovating their products. Getting the mix just right between ‘personal-time’ and ‘group-time’ within an organisation of people is of incalculable importance.
Using personal experiences I remember when I was part of the EGU setup, we would spend the majority of our time working on what we felt was correct, which was great. Upon reflection I now believe this played a significant role in allowing so many English Golfer’s to prosper and succeed in recent years. There were times however when we had to do things together and compete as a group. Whether this was necessary in a sport like Golf I’m not entirely sure but one person who did seem sure was Tom Lewis. From when he was 15 he did his own thing and didn’t care what anybody within the ‘hierarchy of blazers’ had to say. At the time I remember thinking to myself ‘he may need to lighten up a bit and join in’ but now I think him and his Dad just saw what needed to be done earlier than the rest of us. Again no real surprise he had instant success as a professional golfer.
So how does this all tie in with being an introvert?
Ideas nearly always come from moments of inward thinking and outward exploring. Schools, Businesses and Sports Teams all generally seem to believe that becoming a ‘team-player’ is the best way to be. If they want success, they should maybe think twice. Ideas, creativeness, innovation, and many other brilliant pearls of life come from solitariness. I feel extremely lucky to be in an environment where solitude is a given. My best work is done alone, on my own so I can stew on the knowledge passed down and reflect on experiences gained. Spending too many hours within a group of people has the opposite effect for me. The big problem in society is people yearn to be part of a group in fear of becoming lonely, you will not become lonely, you’ll become far more creative, increasingly persistent and ultimately successful.
I think we should all displace the dogma that exists and realise that introversion and solitariness has a role to play in our lives.
*Essay over just wanted to thank my ‘roomy’ Chris Lloyd for not pestering me or invading my ‘solitary time’ in the process of writing this. His courtesy does not surprise me however as he is somebody who loves the solitary life and uses it to great effect inventing companies like Lego.
So from a sunny Dubai, This Wise Old Owl sends his warm regards to all back home.