Amy, my partner here at Drawing Down the Vision, shared a fantastic read with me this week: Solitude and Leadership. I’d like to share a taste here with you, but would greatly prefer if you read it in its entirety. I do it no justice.
William Deresiewicz, a former Yale professor, addressed the Plebe (Freshman) class at West Point Military Academy in October of 2010. He spoke about the crucial and difficult role of solitude in developing as a leader.
Mr. Deresiewicz derided the false image of the conservative, robotic West Point grads to ensure that is what they do not become. They are training to enter one of the largest bureaucracies there is. He exalted how in order to be successful leaders on the world stage, they must be true independent thinkers who know what they stand for, and fight for it. In essence, the larger the bureaucracy you enter, the more of an independent thinker it is your responsibility to become.
It seems counter-intuitive. Solitude and Leadership? It flies in the face of the common phrase, ‘a leader is nothing without followers.’ But flying in the face of the ‘common’ and accepted when appropriate is exactly what Mr. Deresiewicz advocates we must learn. We must not become expert hoop-jumpers. We must become confident, focused leaders. We must learn what we stand for. This is a lonesome journey if done right.
But how can they, and how can we, become those independent thinkers and successful leaders? For starters…
- Have a one day email and social media fast and devote your thinking to a contentious issue or topic affecting your life and of those around you. Don’t read others’ thoughts about it, develop your own.
- Read a book at least 50 years old. Do this to absorb thinking from another era and to better validate and challenge your thinking today.
- Sign up for the One Month Challenge at 750Words.com and spend 15 minutes writing each morning. Dust off the cobwebs and get to the bottom of why you’re thinking what you’re thinking.
- Sit down and just write or draw in a journal whatever comes to your mind. Daydream on purpose or take a Ten-Minute Sabbatical.
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