Why solitude needs a place at every table.

“ I’m an introvert…I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”                                                                               Audrey Hepburn

Where do you do your best work?

Do you prefer to work alone? Or do you work better in the company of others?

I recently found myself in a collaborative working space. We were together alone, working on independent projects that required thinking, modelling and design. The mood in the room was upbeat; the vibe was one of heavy thinking. You could almost hear the crackle of the collective neurons firing off.

As I sat, I noticed my brain shutting down. The more I tried to think, the more my mind was being drowned out by the brainpower surging around me. 

Frustrated with my blank mental sketchpad, I sought refuge elsewhere. All I wanted was a quiet space with a door to close, a table and chair and room to think. Unfortunately the only alternative appeared to be the ladies loo, which wasn’t quite what I had in mind! 

We live at a time where collective workspaces have become the norm; where school classrooms group tables together, where University students study collaboratively on projects, and where workplaces have become open, activity based spaces.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I love losing myself in my thoughts in a crowded café or spending times talking through ideas with colleagues.

But not all the time.

There are times where my best ideas will come only from being alone.

I recognise too that being an introvert, personal space probably matters more to me than to others. Susan Cain, Author of Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, makes a stand for acknowledgment in an extrovert dominated world, that introverts contribute enormously to creative power and leadership. Her 2012 TED talk is one of my all time favourites. It’s had over 10 million views. It looks like there are a couple of other introverts out there who like it too.

There are many examples of successful introverts many of whom have ‘come out’ including Mark Zuckerberg, Guy Kawasaki, Hilary Clinton, Warren Buffett, Marissa Mayer, Angelina Jolie, Albert Einstein and J.K. Rowling. So if are an introvert, you are in good company.

Introverts are not shy. They don’t dislike people, in fact they often love being with people…for a while. 

The difference is that introverts gain their strength and power from being alone, while extroverts gain their energy from being with others.

It’s about recognising who you are, your style of thinking and what works best for your brain.

High performance thinking starts with finding the right workplace environment to bring out the best in all brains at work.

How does your workplace acknowledge thinking diversity?

Do you have access to a quiet space when needed? Can you choose a workspace environment that suits you for a particular task?

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/65746156@N08/14408639605/

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