Solitude. It’s the secret sauce to leadership.
As Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin tells us: “Solitude is a state of mind, a space where you can focus on your own thoughts without distraction, with a power to bring mind and soul together in clear-eyed conviction. Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, however, handheld devices and other media now leave us awash with the thoughts of others. We are losing solitude without even realizing it.”
Alexandra got this book for me after seeing it on Brené Brown’s reading list. It’s fantastic. I was especially excited to read it as I prepped for Conquering Digital Addiction 101.
Raymond Kethledge is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Michael Erwin is a graduate of West Point who served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq and is now an assistant professor in psychology and leadership at West Point. Together they have written a brilliant, inspiring book on how to use solitude to become a better leader.
Jim Collins’s 4-page Foreword is so good I could create a Note just on THAT. I love the way he makes the case for the importance of solitude (and this book): “We live in a cacophonous age, swarming insects of noise and interruption buzzing about—emails, text messages, cable news, advertisements, cell phones, meetings, wireless Web connections, social media posts, and all the new intrusions invented by the time you are reading this. If leadership begins not with what you do but with who you are, then when and how do you escape the noise and find your purpose and summon the strength to pursue it? This book illustrates how leaders can—indeed must—be disciplined people who create the quiet space for disciplined thought and summon the strength for disciplined action. It is a message needed now more than ever, else we run the risk of waking up at the end of the year having accomplished little of significance, each year slipping by in a flurry of activity pointing nowhere. So take some quiet time, engage with this book, and commit to the hard work of alone time.”
It’s a very thoughtful look at how leaders ranging from Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence (aka of Arabia) to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jane Goodall have used solitude to find more clarity, creativity, emotional balance and moral courage. And, of course, how we can do the same.
It’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!