It's getting harder to be yourself

Knowing yourself and your strengths is a key part of designing a good strategy.

In the book Helgoland, Carlo Rovelli shares the story of Werner Heisenberg.

In 1925, at 23 years of age, Heisenberg travelled to a tiny treeless island in the North Sea called Helgoland to escape the distractions of the world and give himself time and space to think.

During his time alone on that tiny, lifeless, chunk of rock in the middle of the ocean Heisenberg came up with the foundations of quantum mechanics and set in motion the exploration of a branch of science that would change the world.

Cal Newport, in his great book called Deep Work, similarly shares the story of Carl Jung, the renown Swiss psychiatrist, who spent many months in solitude, thinking and working in his Bollingen tower near Zurich.

The time alone, it is said, allowed Jung to go deeper into himself and access a source of creativity and depth of work that otherwise would not have been available to him.

Every one of us is a unique individual, with a particular way of being and responding to life with a special contribution to be made to the world—a way of being, along with key strengths and talents, that can be discovered only when we recognize and enter into isolation, welcome loneliness and go into solitude.

Isolation and solitude - away from the distractions that engulf our modern lives - are the conditions under which we discover ourselves, yet are almost unheard of these days.

Our always-on, always-sharing culture creates a layer of conformity to the prevailing zeitgeist of thought that pushes aside individual channels of thought and ways of being.

It's not easy being yourself when you can't hear your own voice.

When you have a clouded sense of self it's no wonder that so many people are struggling with mental health challenges and feelings of worthlessness.

Good strategy demands that you apply your inherent strengths to an identified area of opportunity - it's not possible to do that effectively if you are unsure of what those strengths are. This can leave you feeling like you are always playing a game for which you're just not quite suited for.

Knowing yourself, your truth and tapping into your strengths requires a commitment to switching everything off.

Temporarily put away the distractions of e-mail, social media, your phone, the other voices in your head and start to consciously give permission to your own.  

Meditation and quiet time is not a widely recognised component of good strategy design, but it should be. The resulting clarity of purpose is invaluable in the work that then follows.