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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Grant Yourself the Gift of Solitude

The thought of solitude tends to make us a slightly nervous.

Who wants to be alone?

What's good about being alone?

All that silence...
What would I do?
It would mean no one wants to be with me
I'd feel lonely

And yet, if we do not allow ourselves some moments of solitude on a daily basis, we become stuck...or you might like to call it we can no longer see clearly.

Dr. Walter Dresel, a Uruguayan MD whose work I am unable to find in English, has written an enlightening book about today's topic of solitude called Toma un café contigo mismo (Have a coffee with yourself).

It is an invitation to begin an internal dialogue leading towards a greater self awareness about how one's expectations and self-image tend to become violated by the kind of experiences that society and human narrow-mindedness define as failures.

Whether you have the coffee the title of his book encourages you to, or whether you take a solitary walk, or simply sit somewhere in contemplative silence, is not as important as the fact that you do indeed take the time to do this.

When I was still in the corporate world, and at a point where I had reached the glass ceiling of that particular area of the company, I sat in my private office with a view and luxuriated in the silence, the solitude, and the luxury of being able to think. To really think. In that instance, of course, what I was thinking about was the future of the strategy I was to pursue within my particular area of expertise, what made sense, what did not, how to continue, what to lay aside. But in doing this, I simply sat quietly in my comfortable director's chair, behind my out-sized desk, and thought. I specifically requested no interruptions for a period of 30 minutes on each of the occasions I did this, and I often had a cup of coffee at the same time.

Doing this gave me insight in a way I could never have had in the midst of frantic busy-ness. The time to sit back and think is a luxury, but a necessary luxury and of course, not only for business strategy, but also for one's life, one's hopes, aspirations, dreams, and goals, one's sense of self and self-esteem, and so much more.

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