Friday, December 31, 2010

Solitude and Leadership

I read a great essay a week ago, "Solitude and Leadership" By William Deresiewicz in American Scholar magazine. It is based on a speech he gave to cadets at West Point. It is really worth the time to read and makes a few key points. We need original thinkers in leadership positions. To be an original thinker with vision, a leader needs to find some time to be alone and comfortable with new thoughts. A final point he makes is that multitasking is extremely detrimental to the kind of thinking a visionary leader needs to do.

Two quotes:
  • "For too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don't know how to ask them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they are worth doing in the first place...What we don't have in other words are thinkers...people, in other words, with vision."
  • Multitasking with technology, TV, newspapers, etc. is "just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that human beings throw in your way."
So, a few thoughts as I head into this new year.

I want to multitask less. For me, that means being more thoughtful about how I use my time (and looking at my iPhone less).

I want to read more complete books and less snippets of things.

I want to take time for solitude.

I want to deal with the difficult and troubling questions head on.

This essay is worth a read, it has a lot more to say than this post gives it credit for.

Happy New Year!

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