Great leaders grow in solitude

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It’s common to think of leaders at the head of a group, surrounded by other people. That’s accurate, because leadership is a team sport and a people discipline. The paradox is that most of the great leaders of history made use of solitude, purposeful time alone to make themselves a better leader. After all, as John Dewey noted: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Daily or weekly quiet time

Take quiet, uninterrupted time alone to reflect on your life and work and purpose. Take time alone to ponder the future and your role in it. Take time alone to become more of yourself and build the strength to withstand the storms of the world.

Many leaders carve out a little time every day to reflect on recent events. Several of them keep a journal.

A retreat

In the Christian traditions a retreat is a day or (usually) more time away from regular life and responsibilities. In religious retreats the purpose is to re-connect with God.

Retreats don’t have to be religious. Bill Gates spends two weeks every year at a cabin in Western Washington reading and reflecting.

Solitude is where you find strength. Seek it. Savor it.

Notes and Resources

Will Yakowicz article, “If You Want to Be a Great Leader, Spend Some Time Alone” sparked the train of thought that resulted in this post. Thanks.

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Use Solitude to Make Yourself a Better Leader

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