I recently watched this TED talk, where a woman spoke about how introverts should be celebrated, and not shunned in today’s society. We live in an age of collaborative workspaces, group projects, where office walls are coming down to give a feel of a shared work place. And I think that is great. One of the most effective traits of being an effective professional is the ability to communicate, collaborate, and contribute.
However, it has gotten to a point where the idea of working in solitude – of being in one’s own deep thought is somehow viewed as abnormal, or worse yet, problematic. Growting up, I always saw myself as an extrovert – someone that wasn’t afraid to speak their mind, meet new people, act funny with a little too much alcohol, and all the other great things that go along with that. As I’ve grown older, I have found myself much more interested in quiet dinners, splitting a bottle of wine rather than trying to hustle a drink at a crowded bar, work privately, and ultimately, find myself in a place where I can engage with the most important person – myself.
But, in our society today, this is viewed as abnormal, anti-social, bizarre, and begs the question from even the people who are closest to you like your parents, “what is wrong with you?”. And yet, some of my greatest work, especially on the Philanthro side has come, not from group collaboration, but from the solitude of being able to think, digest, and produce. I have come to realize how deeply important that type of activity is in my life to being productive. Group think is great, and so is teamwork, but when we shove this upon everyone, including our classrooms where group projects have overridden assignments that encourage individual contemplative thought, I often wonder if we are depriving ourselves, our future, of being able to think for ourselves?
Are we able to do things without asking for others’ approval or permission? Do we need somebody else’s blessing to give merit to what we have individually accomplished? Does the work of a few members of the team often carry and mask the weaknesses of individuals?
Collaboration is a vital piece of success in our world today. But, that doesn’t mean we should criticize, demoralize, and unfairly label those who choose to think for themselves every-now-and-then as mavericks, rogue, and uncooperative. After all, some of the greatest movers-and-shakers produced ideas that were thought up not in big teams, but in one’s own mind.