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My friend and colleague Lynne Marino (in the bright red jacket–her signature color) recently shared an article that had inspired her–a copy of a lecture by William Deresiewicz, a Yale professor, given to a West Point plebe class last March. It was entitled Solitude and Leadership.
Lynne had just heard me tell an audience of EWN members that spending quiet time, especially in meditation, is essential to being a successful entrepreneur.
I was eager to see the connection. Lynne warned me that the download was lengthy, but worth the read. I printed out the 8 pages and found a quiet time during the recent snowstorm to sit by the fire and read it. (I include this level of detail, because I’m always curious how others find reading time in their lives.) Here are my take-aways:
- That solitude, “the ability to be alone with your thoughts…is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.”
- That these amazingly gifted students (at Yale and West Point) “had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers…i.e. ‘excellent sheep.’”
- “My first thought is never my best thought.”
- The answers “can only be found within–without distractions, without peer pressure, in solitude.”
- And my favorite quote from the entire article: “Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person.”
I often don’t know what I’m truly thinking until I’m in conversation with someone else and the words come out of my mouth. Solitude is critical. I practice it twice daily in my meditation practice. It’s how I’ve created so much clarity in my life. Voicing it out loud to another seals the knowing in my mind, and it becomes part of my DNA.
Who needs solitude? You do. Are you getting as much as you need?