Call Before You Come
Being alone can be mistaken for being lonely. in a hyper-connected world it’s actually difficult to be alone, and yet, easier to be lonely. Our connections tend to be more horizontal rather than deep and meaningful, based on shared truths that bring us closer. Prolonged loneliness and the phenomenon of social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. This issue is extensively discussed and documented, yet it continues to exert influence over our contemporary lives. Seen The Social Dilemma?
Today, I'd like to discuss the former, not the latter. The concept of being alone, but not lonely, and its implications for creativity and productivity is intriguing, especially in the context of working from home (or not) during and post-pandemic. With the availability of collaboration technology and a personal desire to be engaged in work rather than administrative tasks, this topic becomes even more relevant.
Healthy solitude can work wonders for your work, life, and health.
Isolation inspires creativity.
Research reveals that having a preference for solitude may not only be harmless but also beneficial. Taking time for oneself allows for reflection and observation, which are essential for realizing creative potential. While inspiration can certainly come from group settings, being alone opens up our minds to vast possibilities that can be fearlessly explored without social constraints. Research on scientists and artists shows that a lesser willingness to socialize is a dominant trait in these individuals. You can read more about the benefits of solitude in this article on The Atlantic and this article on BBC Future.
It's damn near funny or uncanny. Artists are involved in the business of expressing human emotions and connecting with a wider audience. But not every artist is the life of the party. I have an ongoing joke with friends that I'm a "social recluse.” While I can fully engage in social situations, actually getting myself there is the biggest challenge. But let me tell you, I absolutely love the solitude of early mornings with my ideas, tracing paper, my laptop, and pens... and no one else. Count me in for indulging in my imagination and having conversations with myself!
Being alone promotes productivity.
I prefer to keeping an open mind. I would rather see the open sign lit, you know? Having an open floor plan at home allows me to stay connected to my surroundings. However, the same cannot be said for an open office. Criticism of open offices has been growing in recent years, and the pandemic and changing work environments will undoubtedly add to the chorus.
A study on open office layouts found that these spaces can increase disruptive behavior. However, this is not the type of disruption that strategists, unicorns, and inventors seek. Instead, it can foment frustration, interruption, and resentment. The study identified a lack of privacy and excessive, uninvited noise as the main reasons for these disruptions. To counteract this chaotic situation and promote productivity, providing solitude is essential. Solitude allows individuals to have the privacy they need to focus on their tasks, thoughts, and to-do lists. [More on this idea]
Solitude strengthens focus, self-awareness, and empathy.
Being alone doesn't necessarily mean feeling lonely. I’ll say it again! In fact, being alone can allow you to direct your focus inward and cultivate a sense of calmness. This is crucial for understanding YOUR emotions, rather than being influenced by the demands, challenges, and circumstances of the world around you. Developing self-awareness is essential as it serves as the first step in understanding how you can build connections with others and navigating the external world. How can you achieve this if someone or something is constantly reminding you about accountability, timelines, and what you're lacking? Or heaven forbid, persistent pen clicking.
Don't be upset with me—my tendency to be alone does not mean I don't like company. Research shows that people like me, who enjoy solitude, are also perfectly fine with having company. It's simple: call before you come.
André 3000, aka Possum Allawishes Jenkins had a way of putting it to music:
I'll call before I come I won't just pop over, out the blue I hope that you do too I'll call before I come I won't just won't pop up over, out the blue No after you
Outkast. “I’ll Call B4 I Cum.” Accessed April 20, 2022. https://genius.com/Outkast-ill-call-b4-i-cum-lyrics
The qualities that solitude can cultivate, such as focus, self-awareness, and subsequently empathy, are essential elements for modern leaders who are well-suited for today's cultural and corporate environments. These are the same attributes that contribute to stronger relationships and human connections in general.
Don’t get it twisted.
Social connectedness is crucial for emotional well-being. While contemporary channels of connection can sometimes lead us astray, it is important to recognize that choosing to be alone is not inherently harmful. In fact, it can be beneficial when it aligns with our personality, individual needs, and situational context. Healthy isolation can improve our emotional health and bring about incredible changes in both our work and personal lives. Personally, I collaborate with people from all over through Bound, but I also intentionally make time to be alone. Try it sometime: take a moment to go inward, unleash your creative energy, and craft your next masterpiece before external influences take hold.
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Bound creates connection through surfacing truths and building connection. A free 30-minute consultation provides everything we need to know to put together a plan for articulating your story in a way that is true to you and the promises you wish to make and keep with others. The ones that will help you forge deep relationships that serve the long term health of your endeavor.