Arguing for solitude or teamwork is misleading in a process sense as both solitude and teamwork are needed. We just have to phase it out into stages. That said, it is true that 70-80% of initiative comes from one self in solitude. My theory of accumulated choices basically comes from my own head, from watching everyday life, from arguing for and against myself, from sleeping on it; it benefited from two rejections by editors. QJE editor basically needed one single day to decide to give me a hard rejection letter, but editors at Review of Econ Studies needed a week to issue a soft rejection to me. Each time I gain from them. QJE rejection reminds me of the need to argue not with mainstream economics but with the latest. It is easy for editors to shoot it down as not new enough. After shifting to BE, it is harder to reject it as the issues are current and sensitive.
Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.
One explanation for these findings is that introverts are comfortable working alone – and solitude is a catalyst to innovation. As the influential psychologist Hans Eysenck observed, introversion fosters creativity by “concentrating the mind on the tasks in hand, and preventing the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work.” In other words, a person sitting quietly under a tree in the backyard, while everyone else is clinking glasses on the patio, is more likely to have an apple land on his head. (Newton was one of the world’s great introverts: William Wordsworth described him as “A mind for ever/ Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.”)
A central narrative of many religions is the seeker – Moses, Jesus, Buddha – who goes off by himself and brings profound insights back to the community.
The story of Apple’s origin speaks to the power of collaboration. Mr. Wozniak wouldn’t have been catalyzed by the Altair but for the kindred spirits of Homebrew. And he’d never have started Apple without Mr. Jobs.
But it’s also a story of solo spirit. If you look at how Mr. Wozniak got the work done – the sheer hard work of creating something from nothing – he did it alone. Late at night, all by himself.
Mr. Wozniak offers this guidance to aspiring inventors:
“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me … they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone …. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.”