A few years ago, a workplace personality survey revealed that I’m an extroverted thinker. In other words, I like to talk through ideas with other people; I tend to think out loud.
Yep, no doubt about it. I love working with other people. And, obviously, it works especially well when you’re part of great teams, where we bounce ideas off one another, and devise a collective wisdom. And that was better again once I’d gotten to know and reined in my approach to better enable the introverted thinkers.
So, for extroverted-me, the PhD is an entirely different working method. With an office to myself, rather than an open plan, I’m physically isolated. With the exception of meetings with my academic supervisors, I’m intellectually isolated. Without any real calendar or timelines, I’m temporally adrift.
It’s a bizarre way to work for such an extended period of time, but it’s made me identify and confront weaknesses in my workplace modus operandi.
And that’s been an unexpected benefit from the PhD experience. It has forced me to develop the introverted thinker’s method to go along with my natural inclination for the team work.
While workplace leaders should always make way for and rely heavily on the expertise of their team members, we clearly need to be capable of our own intellectual leadership.
For me, the independent PhD experience is really honing those skills and habits.
A Scholar in His Study, by Thomas Wyck (c 1650)