Loneliness & Leadership


One of my mentees confided in me that she was really ready to join a team. Being an entrepreneur, working at home, she lacked structure and camaraderie– things she hoped a full time job would bring her. Something that I personally know all too damn well.

My response to her shocked me– not because of what I wanted to say, or what I actually said, but that I was no longer hurt by my own experiences with loneliness as a designer. That I personally no longer sought out the full time job as a solution to these problems, but I created other solutions that actually solved it. Well, works to solve it. It’s a day to day sort of thing.

Knowing this girl as a leader-in-growth, I shared with her something I wish my higher self would have shared with me some time ago:

“Sometimes, leaders need to be alone long enough to build the strength and the following to lead”

I know this feeling intimately and have often tried to solve the loneliness by applying for full time work, joining clubs or meetups. While they can (and for some totally do) provide the sense of community, it has yet to do so for me.

Never one to give up, I choose a third option: build up that community around me.

I may not be THE center of the universe, but I can at least be the center of MY OWN universe.

Staying with my own interests–however strange they may seem– will still work infinitely better than trying to tack on interests I genuinely do not possess. I know, because that was years 2007-2009.

While it is true that I don’t yet have my communities built, I realize this might just be the curse to balance out the blessing of being an entrepreneur. My vision and approach to design is different than many other designers I’ve worked with, read about, or even went to college with. Always has been, probably always will.

For the most of my life, this was viewed as a negative. Now it’s been skewed 100% to the positive. Mostly because of this article.

But it’s the perspective about the loneliness that really helped me. I’m not trying to do the same old same old, I am trying to stake my truth in the largest game in the universe: self expression. It would seem that loneliness is the perfect host of circumstances to make that happen. Without it, how could I sit for hours unpacking semiotic content, and backing up my findings? I know trying too early to get people “on board” with the weirdness that has been The Kubrick Project was met with undeniable rejection. Even a few of my visual styles have not been winners– and they’re not meant to be. I am hashing out what it means to be the most successful me. Since I’m fairly (totally) weird, and unabashedly independent that’s going to be met with resistance. In order for me to bulk up my thick skin, there’s going to have to be alone time for me to prepare, to learn, to work through and to understand. Seeing your loneliness as a necessity to your work might be a hard pill to swallow, but when you do, it will feel so much better. Embrace it, and see how much more productive you become.

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