A guide to the role of solitude in good leadership, including profiles of historical and contemporary figures who have used solitude to lead with courage, creativity, and strength.
Throughout history, leaders have used solitude as a matter of course. Eisenhower wrote memoranda to himself during World War II as a way to think through complex problems. Martin Luther King found moral courage while sitting alone at his kitchen table one night during the Montgomery bus boycott. Jane Goodall used her intuition in the jungles of Central Africa while learning how to approach chimps. 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.
To find solitude today, a leader must make a conscious effort. This book explains why the effort is worthwhile and how to make it. Through gripping historical accounts and firsthand interviews with a wide range of contemporary leaders, Raymond Kethledge (a federal court of appeals judge) and Michael Erwin (a West Pointer and three-tour combat veteran) show how solitude can enhance clarity, spur creativity, sustain emotional balance, and generate the moral courage necessary to overcome adversity and criticism. Anyone who leads anyone-including oneself-can benefit from solitude. With a foreword by Jim Collins (author of the bestseller Good to Great), Lead Yourself First is a rallying cry to reclaim solitude-and all the benefits, both practical and sublime, that come with it.