In the various places I have lived or visited frequently, I’ve always had my spots where I go for solitude – the special places I go by myself to sit and reflect. Solitude is important because it is only when we are alone, with the quietness of our inner thoughts, that we can find the space to truly focus. I believe these moments of quietness, away from the “pings” and “pongs” of our phones, far removed from our to-do lists, are essential for self-improvement.
Solitude is really about taking time to think. Thinking allows us the space to ponder the big-picture questions and meaning of life. It’s what is needed to formulate a new direction. Thinking helps generate new ways of looking at the world and inspires us to do things differently. Thinking happens best when we slow down and are not in a rush to move on to something else. It requires us to focus on something for long enough to develop an original and meaningful idea about it.
Genuine thinking moves beyond rehashing other people’s ideas to focusing on finding a direction that is unique. This can’t be done in five-minute bursts of time. Sometimes it can take hours or days of uninterrupted thinking time to process whatever it is that one is discerning.
The world is full of people who can answer questions, but who do not know how to ask good questions – people who can describe how to get things done, but who can’t articulate why they are doing them. We have many people who can complete an objective but don’t know how to set one. We have doers, but what we need more of is thinkers. We need more leaders to question the way things have been done and to contemplate the big questions. We need leaders to spend time thinking
For additional insights, be sure to purchase my book, The Ordinary Leader.