| August 24, 2017


Podcast #333: Solitude & Leadership

About a year ago, I had cultural critic William Deresiewicz on the podcast to discuss, among other things, a speech he gave at West Point in 2010 on the power of solitude in making better leaders. It’s a powerful speech and my guest today is one of the individuals who was impacted by it. So much so that he spent seven years researching and writing a book on the intersection of solitude and leadership. His name is Mike Erwin and he’s the co-author of the book Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

Today on the show, Mike and I discuss why solitude is more than just secluding yourself from other people, why it’s so hard to come by in the information age, and how leadership in our governments and businesses have suffered due to the lack of solitude. We then dig deep into specific benefits that solitude can give leaders by looking at case studies from history. Mike shares how solitude practices enabled Dwight D. Eisenhower to make big, analytical decisions like launching D-Day, helped Lawrence of Arabia and General Ulysses S. Grant come up with creative war strategies, allowed Abraham Lincoln to keep himself emotionally stable during the Civil War, and gave Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John Paul II the moral courage to stand up for what they believed in. We end our show discussing practical ways you can inject some more solitude into your own life, no matter how noisy and busy it is.

Show Highlights

  • What inspired Mike to write about solitude and leadership
  • What is solitude? Is it being out alone in the woods or on a mountaintop?
  • How to experience solitude even in a crowded coffee shop
  • How social media limits our thinking and ideation process
  • The downsides of being uber-accessible at all times
  • The ways in which solitude provides clarity
  • How solitude helped Eisenhower clear his mind about D-Day
  • The difference between analytical clarity and intuitive clarity
  • The importance of giving your brain regular breaks
  • How solitude can make you more creative
  • What Lincoln and Grant can teach us about solitude and emotional stability
  • Solitude and Stoicism
  • How solitude builds our moral courage
  • Brass tacks tips for injecting more solitude into your life

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

lead yourself first book cover michael erwin raymond kethledge

If you enjoyed my conversation with Bill Deresiewicz about solitude and leadership, you need to pick up a copy of Lead Yourself FirstMike Erwin and Judge Kethledge do a fantastic job fleshing out Bill’s original idea with lessons from history, as well as brass tacks advice on how to implement those ideas. 

Connect With Mike Erwin

Mike on Twitter

Team RWB

The Positivity Project

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Last updated: August 28, 2017

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