One of the magical “C’s” that is emphasized over and over again is collaboration. I am a big believer in the power of teams coming together to build something greater than what is possible creating alone, but I sometimes wonder if this (as other things) is sometimes overemphasized. Collaboration is important, but what about isolation? Do we teach the ability to work on our own?
With the massive amounts of information that surround us at all times, we need time alone to be able to collect our thoughts. As I continue to do workshops and connect with people, I have come to appreciate the opportunity to sit in an airport and be anonymous at some points. This gives me a break from all of the things that we do in our world, catch up on my own thoughts, reflect, and clarify. Is the ability to be alone something all people possess or are comfortable with?
Lately, leading workshops, I have really focused on the implementation of time for people to simply have time to reflect and give them a space to share their thoughts, whether they choose to or not. Sometimes working within the group is implemented in full force that we do not have an opportunity to be with our own thoughts, and people start to check out anyway. From what I have seen, people are at first thrown off by the time I give for them to think about some big questions, but are later thankful for the chance to be within their own head. Admittedly, a full day of group talk can be overwhelming for myself.
In the article, “The Power of Lonely“, being alone, the author believes, is extremely beneficial for our spirit and mind:
But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.
If we are truly to become “creative and innovative”, we have to be able to individually bring something to the table. The ability to connect with one another is no more important than the ability to connect with ourselves. Many of my ideas come from sitting in Starbucks by myself, or going for a run on my own. Is being in isolation not a skill we should be modelling and teaching our students?