“Originality thrives in seclusion, free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone – that is the secret of invention. Be alone – that is when ideas are born.”
Upon first meeting either Andrew or I, many people are surprised to find out that we are both introverts. We are selectively social because we dislike shallow small talk. Spending too much time with other people leaves us feeling drained. We are sensitive to our surroundings: loud din in crowded restaurants, how the environment looks, how many people there are, and the noise level can deplete our energy stores leaving us irritable. There are physical consequences as well which commonly includes headache, muscle fatigue, and exhaustion.
At the same time, we are friendly and approachable, While we prefer meaningful conversation, we are good at making light chit chat. So while some may call this being an ambivert , perhaps we can all agree that everyone will fall somewhere along the spectrum and not at the extremes. We are social introverts.
These days as we are sharing our story, we are being selectively social. It’s the only way to get through the day before reaching the brink of utter exhaustion. At the same time, we find it also fundamentally important to share this experience with others. Luckily we can do this in a variety ways, including here on serenadewind.com.
Finding Time to be Still
During these early months of retirement, I am scheduling a few social interactions to reconnect with friends from the past. Mostly, however, I am leaving the calendar relatively clear to allow time for introspection. That’s a difficult concept in this current “culture of personality” that relies on proving oneself, group think, and collaboration for success. We are in an era that rewards charisma in leaders over substance.
Much like in the message provided in Susan Cain’s TedTalks, we historically came from a “culture of character.” The essence of what was inside a person is what defined him or her. We admire Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Eleanor Roosevelt. All were transformative leaders who described themselves as quiet, soft-spoken or shy.
I chose the Tesla quote above because it reinforces the message that solitude is the key to creativity, to break-through thoughts, and to innovation. It is the birthplace of ideas.
The Gift of Time
I give myself this gift of time. To go into the proverbial (or actual) wilderness. To be alone, but not lonely. Generate my own ideas and have my own revelations.
Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is an introvert. So as she gets up to present from the TED2012 stage, bag in hand, it is not a comfortable experience. But it’s an important one, and that’s the point.
The voyager’s journey is one that is in pursuit of these quiet moments of introspection. The theme of being selectively social is echoed in the following stories: