"Stand Still When the Hippos Charge"
From Verbal to Visual

On the Power of Solitude

When you haven't blogged in months and decide, finally, to begin again, it's probably a good idea to explain your absence. 

In the time since I've last written here, I've been wrapped in a reflective cocoon, working on a new path for my business. This need to re-invent myself has come over me a few times in my professional life. It generally begins with a strong feeling that what I'm doing every day no longer aligns with what I want to accomplish in the world. Examining this feeling and determining what to do about it requires large swaths of silence and introspection for me to work through to the other side. This is the biggest explanation for my months-long blogging black-out. Sometimes you just need the quiet of your own mind to really work. 

During this time, I've regained an appreciation for solitude. I used to believe that my best work was done when I was hip-deep in the world of ideas, engaged in lively conversation and interaction with my on and off-line colleagues. And there is still a place for that in my life. But what I've found is that that there are also times in your professional development when you need to move away from the conversations happening around you to give yourself time and space to hear what all of this means for YOU. 

This is harder to do in an always on world where interesting conversations and ideas are just a few mouse clicks away. There is a pull to the external world that is irresistible at times.  But I've found that it is necessary to seek solitude if I am to make sense of the conversations that swirl around me.

More importantly, solitude is necessary for me to determine how best to turn all that I'm experiencing into action. I believe in the cycle of Act-->Reflect and have found that when you spend too long in the Act phase, then you must spend a correspondingly longer time in the Reflect phase to make up for it. This is especially true when actions are no longer aligned with your essential sense of purpose. It takes solitude to see the ways in which you need to change your actions to re-gain alignment. 

I've talked at length here about the value of reflective practice, which I've typically seen as an ongoing process. But I think there are times in our professional lives when it makes sense for us to go even deeper, to reflect more extensively and for longer periods of time. A sabbatical away from the world, an enforced diet of minimal technology, can be a refreshing thing. It's done wonders for me and I'm glad to be back. 

Comments

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Welcome back and good luck on your journey.

Glad to have you posting again. I always find your thoughts insightful and helpful to me in my own journey.I couldn't agree more with the need to engage in some periodic deep reflection of how our day to day activities (that can take over our lives) align or don't align with our core purposes in life.

Thanks, Jeff and Paula--good to be back. :-)

And Jeff, I've been particularly struck with how you end up paying for over-stimulation in ways you don't even realize. I personally had been binging on the ideas and conversation that online connections had brought to me and I definitely needed a social media diet to get myself back in some form of balance.

Hi Michele

Glad to hear you're finding your way and took the steps right for you to accomplish it.

I totally agree with you. Over the last 6 months or so I have emerged after a period of reflection and introspection. I have done this periodically through my adult life. After I emerge from the reflective periods I have much to offer and so delve into community and professional activity. The insights and creativity I have to offer are great but then over the years they wither and my contribution becomes so-so. I know then that I need to cocoon for a period.

Periodic silence is creative and nourishing. The trick is to know when and how long to do it for.

Thanks Tom and Yvonne. And Yvonne, I agree that it can be difficult at times to figure out when you need to cocoon and how long to do it for. I'd like to get better at doing it before it reaches "crisis" proportions. :-)

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