The greatest ideas you’ll generate when you are alone

Dear reader,

today in a modern world it appears and is advisable that all the work should be teamwork, team-building, connections, networking etc. It is indeed precious to have a circle that supports you and that you support back, that you turn to when you need advice and that you invest into, so that the circle can prosper and grow.

However, teamwork might be somewhat overrated. To generate and develop the best ideas, you need time to be alone. If you dig into this a bit further, you’ll find solid evidence in the social psychology literature that says groupwork has limits in creativity and productiveness (or you can write to me and I’m happy to provide you with the research). It’s great to exchange ideas and to point to some possible overlooked directions, but each member has to work on her/his idea alone, at least  sometimes. Alone doesn’t equal lonely. But in order to truly concentrate, focus and develop something amazing, you need some time in stillness and quiet.

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

I’m beginning to notice that I’m being most creative during my morning runs. Even though I concentrate on running, my brain looks for connections that were not there before, explores and plays with ideas that seem appealing but utopic and I find myself smiling on the inside when the run is over. It doesn’t happen every day and even if it does it needs time to evolve and that can last the whole day or two or a week, sometimes even month. It requires reading, research, consulting with others, but the final shape, the cherry on the top, happens when I’m alone and when my mind is unleashed.

I’ve seen a client from some other faculty (I’m currently working with other faculties and students) the other day. She said she’d like to be more productive, focused and not procrastinate so much. After she told me a bit about her, I made a comment at the end of the session that she might try taking the stairs home instead of the elevator (she lives in the 7th floor). I suggested she might do this once a day and notice if there is any difference. It seemed a totally unrelated comment and honestly, I don’t know where I got the idea to propose this from and it was just a side comment, not a big concluding remark.

She came back after three weeks and said that her life had changed so much, she began to find joy and was really pleased with her ability to do something good for her every day. And the fact that she was able to do this regularly, grew her confidence in the discipline she needed for her studies. If she could do the stairs, she said, she could do the studying. It was our second and last session. I’ve read somewhere on the pinterest a quote that caught my attention and I’m happy to share it with you today as it fits very well into this post. It’s about exercise being the most underutlizied antidepressant. And also a very powerful idea-generator. Certainly works for me. Perhaps it might work for some of you too.

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