Solitude and Leadership
by William Deresiewicz
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (27 min. read time)
The lecture below was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009.
“Leadership and aptitude, leadership and achievement, leadership and even excellence have to be different things, otherwise the concept of leadership has no meaning.” — William Deresiewicz
“We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going.” — William Deresiewicz
“…what makes him a thinker—and a leader—is precisely that he is able to think things through for himself. And because he can, he has the confidence, the courage, to argue for his ideas even when they aren’t popular. Even when they don’t please his superiors. Courage: there is physical courage, which you all possess in abundance, and then there is another kind of courage, moral courage, the courage to stand up for what you believe.” — William Deresiewicz
“Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself.” — William Deresiewicz
“So it’s perfectly natural to have doubts, or questions, or even just difficulties. The question is, what do you do with them? Do you suppress them, do you distract yourself from them, do you pretend they don’t exist? Or do you confront them directly, honestly, courageously?” — William Deresiewicz
“…it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.” — William Deresiewicz
My two cents: There were many more takeaways that I wish I could fit in this section, but I didn’t want to make it too long! Read the whole speech, it’s really good. I’ve never really read about leadership before and I’m glad this was my first introduction. A thoughtful argument with 0 fluff or BS.
Share (if you're an OG) Twitter Facebook