It has probably been a long time since there has been so much discussion about feeling lonely as there has been in recent months. Can enduring this void even be something positive that strengthens our characters? Find my thoughts on the topic of loneliness in this 10th issue of my Letter of Inspiration, along with a freshly published article in the Handelszeitung as well a podcast interview about intuition and leadership. Enjoy!


Being alone is not something that comes naturally to us. This is no empty phrase, as anyone who has ever dared to go on vacation or to a restaurant alone will know. The first moment feels strange, unfamiliar, maybe even unnecessary and wrong. I get that. But didn’t sitting on a bike for the first time, and riding off without training wheels, having your Dad running alongside then slowly letting go, feel strange too? The moment of “flying” alone is what scares us, but at the same time it opens up a new world. Suddenly we are - in the cycling analogy - more independent, more flexible, and we get from A to B faster.

The moment of overcoming uncertainty or fear is like a software update. The only difference is that to reach the next level, we have to make a conscious decision to move rather than just press a button. Our development does not just happen, we are forced to make an active decision. And then, of course, there are distractions: life, whether pleasant or not, but certainly familiar, with friends, colleagues, family, shared jokes, and fun in the routine of social obligations and pleasures. There is something seductively distracting about pleasure, consumption and community.

Very much like the next iOS update, being alone (personal development) never fits into the daily routine. There is no time for a back-up or we don’t have the PIN at hand. There are countless reasons to click "remind me later". However, the real driver may be an avoidance of that brief moment of void (uncertainty/not knowing what is happening) that occurs when we do something outside of our routine.

When you think about the moments that shaped you, experiences always come to mind - at least for me - of times when I also dared to do something. Walking into a meeting where I already know the outcome or going on the annual family vacation in Italy doesn’t especially add to my development scale. The belief that we are not alone when we are with others is a fallacy we like to tell ourselves. The fact is that we make decisions alone, over and over again. We also bear their consequences or fruits alone - e.g. getting from A to B faster.

Distraction and perseverance

Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher, already summarized the dilemma of mankind in the 19th century when he described humans as porcupines: If we get too close to each other, we risk hurting ourselves, but if we keep too great a distance, we risk coldness and loneliness.

"Thus the need of society (...) drives men to each other; but their many repugnant qualities and intolerable faults repel them from each other again. (...) But he who has much inner warmth of his own prefers to stay away from society, so as not to give complaint, nor to receive it."

Couldn't solitude be something beautiful? Indulging in one's own thoughts? Attending a dinner where you are not distracted by conversation or an appealing counterpart, but are allowed to enjoy and experience it alone, focused with all your senses? As with everything in life, it's all about balance. What I take away from this thought is to let the balance arise by daring again. Dare to allow and enjoy the moment of being alone and using your senses consciously. It will unfold in an update in our business decisions.

What has inspired me recently?

Gerhard Richter - Landscapes.

Richter is considered one of the most important living artists. His current exhibition Landscapes at the Kunsthaus Zurich features works from 1963 to 2018. There is so much that you can learn about your daily existence and work from this exceptional artist. Richter thinks that we have an overly perfect image of nature. It is far more than what the camera shows, it is more than what we choose and want to show. It goes beyondthe pure, artificially chosen detail. Just like our lives. It is more complex than some may see or show. The creation process for the expression of its reality works in the interplay: How much is just right? When is it too much? We are always searching for the right balance. How strong can an abstraction of a landscape be while still allowing it to be perceived as a landscape? Which elements of a cityscape are crucial in order for the city to still be recognizable as such?

A nice example for a briefing or meeting: How much should I prescribe so as not to be confronted with the demand of my own perfection at the end, and how much should I say in order to give a framework for development, i.e. independent work, at the end? An example from Richter's exhibition is attached.

Gerhard Richter, Stadtbild F, 1968

On my own behalf…

The topics of loneliness and attitude have not only been guardrails of my thoughts in this Letter of Inspiration, but are also reflected in my recent article in Handelszeitung.

And last but not least, I recommend this podcast interview (in German) for your next car or train ride. Jonathan Sierck, initiator of vonMorgen, asked me a few good questions about intuition and what it has to do with leadership. On Spotify or Apple Podcast

Here an excerpt:

Here an excerpt:
"It is important that we do not decide things from external influences, but rely more on ourselves again, and thus can also make more agile decisions that are not dependent, but strongly driven from ourselves." - Tanja Schug, in conversation on VonMorgen Podcast - Episode 38

With this, my Letter of Inspiration comes to an end… Thank you for joining me on the way to more clarity. If you like this episode, please feel free to share it with like-minded colleagues and friends, encouraging them to subscribe!