Solitude and Leadership

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 197
  • Published : April 12, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Solitude
 and
 Leadership
 
If
 you
 want
 others
 to
 follow,
 learn
 to
 be
 alone
 with
 your
 thoughts
  By
 William
 Deresiewicz
  The
 lecture
 below
 was
 delivered
 to
 the
 plebe
 class
 at
 the
 United
 States
 Military
 Academy
  at
 West
 Point
 in
 October
 of
 last
 year.
 
 

 

My
 title
 must
 seem
 like
 a
 contradiction.
 What
 can
 solitude
 have
 to
 do
 with
 

leadership?
 Solitude
 means
 being
 alone,
 and
 leadership
 necessitates
 the
 presence
 of
  others—the
 people
 you’re
 leading.
 When
 we
 think
 about
 leadership
 in
 American
 history
  we
 are
 likely
 to
 think
 of
 Washington,
 at
 the
 head
 of
 an
 army,
 or
 Lincoln,
 at
 the
 head
 of
 a
  nation,
 or
 King,
 at
 the
 head
 of
 a
 movement—people
 with
 multitudes
 behind
 them,
  looking
 to
 them
 for
 direction.
 And
 when
 we
 think
 of
 solitude,
 we
 are
 apt
 to
 think
 of
  Thoreau,
 a
 man
 alone
 in
 the
 woods,
 keeping
 a
 journal
 and
 communing
 with
 nature
 in
  silence.
  Leadership
 is
 what
 you
 are
 here
 to
 learn—the
 qualities
 of
 character
 and
 mind
 that
 will
  make
 you
 fit
 to
 command
 a
 platoon,
 and
 beyond
 that,
 perhaps,
 a
 company,
 a
 battalion,
  or,
 if
 you
 leave
 the
 military,
 a
 corporation,
 a
 foundation,
 a
 department
 of
 government.
  Solitude
 is
 what
 you
 have
 the
 least
 of
 here,
 especially
 as
 plebes.
 You
 don’t
 even
 have
  privacy,
 the
 opportunity
 simply
 to
 be
 physically
 alone,
 never
 mind
 solitude,
 the
 ability
 to
  be
 alone
 with
 your
 thoughts.
 And
 yet
 I
 submit
 to
 you
 that
 solitude
 is
 one
 of
 the
 most
  important
 necessities
 of
 true
 leadership.
 This
 lecture
 will
 be
 an
 attempt
 to
 explain
 why.
 
 

 

We
 need
 to
 begin
 by
 talking
 about
 what
 leadership
 really
 means.
 I
 just
 

spent
 10
 years
 teaching
 at
 another
 institution
 that,
 like
 West
 Point,
 liked
 to
 talk
 a
 lot
  about
 leadership,
 Yale
 University.
 A
 school
 that
 some
 of
 you
 might
 have
 gone
 to
 had
 you
  not
 come
 here,
 that
 some
 of
 your
 friends
 might
 be
 going
 to.
 And
 if
 not
 Yale,
 then
 

Harvard,
 Stanford,
 MIT,
 and
 so
 forth.
 These
 institutions,
 like
 West
 Point,
 also
 see
 their
  role
 as
 the
 training
 of
 leaders,
tracking img