I am a strong introvert. I realize that is both a real problem (see: “Big Island Love”) and a powerful asset. I have a study at home where I often retreat to read, write, and think. Sometimes I just lay down on a day bed to nap and ponder the world and what the heck I am going to do next.
In a wired world of social media and collaboration all that seems both really male and very out of sync. Yet, to me it’s been the secret sauce. When the world goes right I tend to go left. In investing that’s called being a contrarian. You don’t make money by following the herds off a cliff. You make money by taking the risk of standing alone. It turns out that perhaps that is true of great art and great science and pretty much any field where creativity requires originality.
At least that is the premise of new research reported this week in the New York Times article, “The Rise of the New Groupthink” by Susan Cain:
SOLITUDE is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.
But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.
Definitely worth reading and thinking about.