Thursday, August 22, 2013

Going solo works!

By Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Having directed a large, basic, required speech-communication course in which small-group work was required for all students, and a grade was given on their group work that was part of the final grade in the course, I regularly received comments from students in their course evaluations regarding their perception of the small-group unit. A number hated working in groups and having part of their grade determined, in part, by others in their small discussion group.

I felt exactly the same way as these complaining students throughout my entire educational career. Oh, I was aware of the importance of small-group work, the effectiveness of most small-group efforts (depending on the task), and how small-group work may result in a higher-quality product.

My complaints about small-group work were always the same and never wavered: 1) I always thought I could do whatever was necessary faster by myself, 2) I thought I could come up with a higher-quality product working by myself, and 3) I thought group members often did not live up to their responsibilities regarding being prepared, being an active participant, and being a thoughtful and responsive group member.

It was early in my formal educational career that I realized I could work faster and better by myself. When I realized—and it was a true discovery!—that I was responsible for my own education (that the teacher was inside ME!), I wanted full and complete control. Others simply mucked-up the situation and were regularly irresponsible, untrustworthy, and sometimes even incompetent.

As an aside here, I have to admit that my wife and I find it much easier to go to the movies, go out to eat, or do anything at all, by ourselves—tied, in no way, to others. I realize this is a selfish attitude; however, as soon as we try to coordinate activities with others, complications beyond our control occur and scheduling difficulties become complex and sometimes difficult.

Going into the area/discipline of speech communication really complimented my feelings since preparing for and delivering a public speech is primarily (with the exception of interviews with others for research purposes) an individual job. When I prepared to teach my classes, to deliver my lectures, and even to do my writing, it has always been me working solo—and, as you would guess, working with a great deal of pleasure.

When I was first asked to write a textbook with my co-author, Saundra Hybels, I said "yes" without a great deal of hesitation or deliberation. It sounded like a good idea at the time. What I immediately discovered as we began to work together, was that she did not produce material as quickly as I did, and her work was not nearly of the same quality. In the early editions, I spent time going over her work so that it more closely resembled my own. In that way, readers would not have a jolt between the sections, or, even more important (we thought), they would not be able to distinguish between chapters written by her and chapters written by me.

Fortunately, the quality of her work improved (although she never worked as quickly as I did). At times, she could not meet the writing deadlines established for us (and agreed upon by us!) set by our publishing company, but I have to add to this, it always worked out in the end.

In 1999, Saundra Hybels died unexpetedly. Suddenly, I was the sole author of the textbook, Communicating Effectively, 10e (McGraw-Hill, 2012). For four editions (we are on a three-year turn-around) I have been the sole author of the book.

All at once, I was going solo! Now, I have to tell you that I wrote several previous college textbooks, most of which were solo efforts. It wasn’t that I was unprepared to accept the responsibility! Actually, I relished the new situation. Oh, of course, I was sorry about Saundra’s sudden death, but if you knew her you would quickly know how that situation evolved. She smoked heavily, she never exercised, she was diabetic, and she was excessively overweight. She told me one time that she knew she would die early, but there was nothing she could do about it except accept it!

When I chose to take early retirement from teaching, I made the choice to spend a greater amount of time writing—something I had wanted to do for most of my teaching career. I couldn’t afford to do it earlier, because I couldn’t afford it financially.

What I did not fully understand when I took early retirement, however, was that I would be able to do far more independent—individual—work than ever before. I wanted more time at the computer, and I got it!

First, I wrote essays for The (Toledo) Blade. Sixteen were published.

Second, I established a blog <>>, and I wrote book reviews (close to 300 at this writing) and essays (more than 300 written).

Third, I wrote books. I began by putting my best essays into a single book titled, And Then Some: Essays to Entertain, Motivate, & Inspire (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2007).

There were two other books in this proposed series, and those collections were completed, and ISBN numbers were even ascribed before an executive decision was made not to continue with publishing those two follow-up volumes.

The second book, Public Speaking Rules! All You Need for a GREAT speech! (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2008), designed for a general audience, was based on the several public-speaking college textbooks I wrote and published with several different publishers.

The third book, You Rules - Caution: Contents Leads to a Better Life! (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2008) was a solid, well-defined, specific illustration of my philosophy and approach to a prosperous, healthy, creative, and satisfying life.

My fourth book, SMOERS—Self Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules: Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2009) is a collection of motivational quotations you can use on a daily basis to inspire an effective, committed, and satisfying lifestyle.

Relationship Rules: For Long-term Happiness, Security, and Commitment (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2009) was my fifth book and related to more than 20 years of teaching interpersonal communication and writing a college textbook on the subject that went through seven editions with HarperCollins publisher.

The sixth book, Exotic Destinations: Stories of Adventures from Around the World (And Then Some Publishing LLC, 2011) is a collection of my travel essays, some from my blog and some written just for this book.

Going solo, for me, has been enormously profitable. It works! It has absorbed my time and effort, but more important than that, it has brought tremendous pleasure and satisfaction.

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At there is a TOEFL essay: "Working individually or working in groups." The essay gives advantages of both. About working individually, the essay says: "Working individually also gives you many advantages. The first thing is that it makes you more independent. When you work alone, you have to solve your assignment by yourself and you can’t rely on anybody. The way you do , the method you use, or even the manner you present, these are all your work and you have to choose how better to do. This process gives you not only many experiences but also the confident to make your decisions in the future. Moreover, you can manage your time better when you work by yourself. You can do your work anytime that is best for you and you also don’t have to depend on others to have only an agreement. You can schedule your work includes your timetable and only follow your plan. That will save your time a lot. "

At ScienceDaily, the essay there, "Working Alone May Be The Key To Better Productivity, New Research Suggests," the author quotes Dr. Tim Welsh, University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology, as saying: "In a situation where speed and accuracy in performing a certain task are important, I think an argument could be made for a work setting in which people work in isolation -- or at least with people who doing very similar tasks,’ he said. ‘That will remove the involuntary modeling of - - -another's behaviour, potentially improving speed and likely accuracy.’"

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Copyright August, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC

1 comment:

  1. Working solo has of course have good and bad things. I love working solo because it makes me more effective and relax.

    System of Greatness


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