I recently stayed in a hotel with iPads at the bedside and also in the shower. One has the feeling that I can’t even have a confidential conversation even with myself. There are few places where we have the opportunity to do nothing. Over the course of the day, we shift continuously between revealing and concealing aspects of ourselves and our work to and from others. We are always on the stage with no privacy for doing rehearsals.
Moments of insight arrive not when the mind is in a clenched state, but when the mind is at ease, when we’re aimlessly walking down the street, lost in thought. From Archimedes to Paul McCartney, many intellectual breakthroughs and creative excellences occurred in the midst of a perfectly inane daydream. The sum of the consonants in your name relates a secret dream, your inner desires, or maybe even fantasies.With constant intrusion, might we be depriving ourselves of these precious moments? How will we have those insights in the shower, on a run, or as we’re falling asleep if we’re plugged in? In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude.
Wolfang Amadeus Mozart : “ When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer – say, traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep – it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”
We are not geniuses but we still need to be creative. We have to engineer absence and be proactive. It’s not going to come back on its own. The bias in our society is moving toward more content, shallower thinking. You have to actually do semiradical things like what does it feel like to walk through the park without updating your FB status.
Solitude is intentional; you make a conscious choice to separate from a group in order to concentrate, recharge, express emotion, or engage in personal activities. Some people choose a closed space where they have visual and acoustical privacy if they need respite or to focus intently on a project. Others may choose to eat lunch in the farthest empty corner of a cafeteria. I smoke and that gives me a sense of aloneness.
As we moved towards a talent based economy from a resource based one, this has to be appreciated to inculcate innovation in the DNA of all corporate. I understand that more than half the top 50 companies are talent based, including three of the four biggest : Apple, Microsoft and Google. Even those who opt out of popular social media sites have a hard time hiding from Google. What if we really don’t want co-workers to know where we live, what religion we practice, what music we listen to, or what are our sexual orientations ?
In today’s world of vulnerability, where personal information is being shared and demanded across new channels in exponentially higher degrees, the boundaries between what is and isn’t private are constantly shifting. As social media platforms and wearable devices and other tools for transparency become more advanced, our sense of being onstage is growing. We spend more time acting, trying to control others’ impressions . We cater to our audience, doing what’s expected. But thats a dominant response – doing repetitive , practiced tasks.
Google doesn’t track when and where its engineers spend a lot of their time that they devote to projects that interest them personally . That protected 20% time has been credited with a lot of their innovative digital portfolio, including Gmail, Adsense, Google Now , etc. This is a paradox of a company credited with scripting the ground rules of intrusion. Am sure if not Google, someone else would have taken the taken the credit of making us lose our solitude. A lot has also to do with our apathy, I guess.
This visibility created by transparency call for creative thinking. The visibility created by transparency conjures up self-consciousness and inhibitions, Thats why musicians perform in front of an audience but practice without one – they need privacy to doodle and make rhythm. While musicians may practice in front of a teacher, that teacher is an invited coach , not a consumer of their work. Technology is making close scrutiny by large audiences of consumers possible to a degree that Orwell could have never imagined. If you’re under spotlight in front of an audience , the last thing you want to do is to make impromptu improvements.
Just live the Sunday of each week without your smart device, I suggest. Sometimes put a closed door sign that say’s “ I’m in rehearsal.”