The Most Horrible Punishment Turned Inside-Out
To achieve success in any activity or sport it’s only logical you would make more progress when supported by a small group or team. Yet, illogically, this isn’t the case, at least so says psychologist K. Andrews Ericsson of Florida State University.
He says a deliberate practice in solitude without any partner or teammate is the key to achieving transcendent skill in any area! If you desire to excel in any activity he advises that you will do best by practicing that ability alone! That last word, “alone,” is frightening to most of us Americans, and for good reasons. The prison system’s most dreaded punishment is solitary confinement! Parents used a softer form called “Time Out,” which is a punishment for disobedient children who are sent to their room to be alone in silence.
We live in an electronic communication age where solitude seems almost impossible. Even those who live alone, don’t! Their solitary life can be filled with all-pervasive television, relentless e-mails and numerous telephone calls. Prehistorically we are communal people, yet unless we learn to create private space apart from others we risk becoming superficial. We must be courageous if we are to disconnect and “turn off” our communicating gadgets to “turn on” our inner-life and find the riches of stillness.
Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, the motion-picture camera, a battery for an electric car and the electric light bulb, had 1,093 U.S. patents in his name. Amazingly, this great inventive genius worked and lived in silence! He lost his hearing as a child through an accident and as an adult when doctors told him they could cure his deafness—he refused! He preferred dwelling in the silence of his creative laboratory in his head to hearing the noisy surrounding world.
Even if you can hear, creating your own silent Edison laboratory takes courage to deliberately separate yourself from others. It requires discipline to silence your machines, regardless how entertaining or newsy, and to daily practice the art of silent solitude for twenty to thirty minutes. Upon being at ease spending time on your Island of Solitary Confinement, create more of them. Use the time driving to create rolling tranquility by turning off the radio and your iPhone so solutions to various problems can bubble up from deep within you.
When next you must work on some problem go into your own Edison silent laboratory, recalling his well-known words, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”