Solitude allows leaders and followers alike to find peace amid great turmoil and strife. It is the way that leaders are created through careful introspection and reflection. It balances one’s emotions, allows for analytical and intuitive clarity, allows for the greatest creativity, and allows one to reconnect and stand firm with their core principles.
- solitude is the responsibility of the leader regardless of social pressure
- amidst crisis be unwavering and detached, in private solitude let go of and work through your emotions
- use exercise to work through difficult problems, figure out what your most important items are, and to allow the intuitive process to work
What is solitude and where do we find it?
- pg xviii - Solitude is not an objective concept but a subjective one. It is a state of mind that is isolated from the input of other minds.
- pg xix - It is a period of focus rather than distraction; of productivity rather than idleness; of purpose rather than diversion.
- pg xx - our culture has become more strident than sublime.
- pg xxi - Solitude requires the discipline to unplug, to lower your accessibility, without cheating.
- pg 3 - We are overrun with inputs. Concerns of the present outweigh the more important, consequential concerns of the future.
- pg 4 - by silencing the distractions you can hear the delicate, still, small voice of intuition.
- pg 7 - solitude facilitates structured thinking. Situation, complication, resolution. Hard to get to that without quite time away from the distractions.
- pg 8 - using a document to record emotional responses to events so that you can reflect on them.
- pg 9 - reflection is the key to learning. Two days a month, no meetings.
- pg 10 - solitude just means the chance to think; it doesn’t have to be a quiet .
- pg 11 - intuition requires a mental state that is free from distraction. Responing to emails seems like a brainless exercise but while you’re doing it, you’re not free to think.
- pg 12,13 - leadership is about consensual interdependence. Even in the military you can’t just command people. There’s this idea that leaders must be extroverts and they must be predisposed to action. That doesn’t allow time for solitude that is so needed by intuition. Dig your own foxhole and teach others how to dig their own. Create a culture of truth by not giving fictitious body counts no matter how much the social heirarchy wants them.
- pg 15,16 - Don’t use I’m the boss so do what I say if you can help it. If someone won’t do something, don’t react at first. Often times it is fear manifesting itself as indignation or anger. Don’t take action right away; put some time and space in-between the decision if you can help it. That could also just be pacing around the room. If someone is resistant and balking at fulfilling an order, go and really talk to them. Often times it will be a training and or motivation issue that can easily be cleared up. You need to lead, not command.
- pg 16, 17 - strive for self-awareness and clarity about your true strengths and weaknesses through introspection and reflection. One way to gain self-awareness is through physical adversity (such as running, hiking, etc); it humbles you. Humility is at the core of leadership. Realizing that you don’t know everything and that you need to improve as well.
- pg 18, 19 - use solitude to reconnect with core values. Introverts don’t usually seek the spot light or want to be a leader for the sake of being a leader.
- pg 24, 25 - process is one of breaking down complexity to a single point of decision. The method starts by bringing logical order to the information then develop a series of logical premises. The premises then will include certain rules or principles. That is then reduced to a single point of decision which provids clarity.
- pg 28 - use writing to think about a subject. Make it a priority so that it happens. Thinking by writing helps clarify things and stabilize emotions.
- pg 28, 29 - Eisenhower, the “loneliness” of leadership. “Subordinates can advise, urge, help, and pray - but only one man, in his mind and heart, can decide, ‘Do we, or do we not?’. The straing comes from not being sure that the analysis has been carefully and acurretely made.”
- pg 30 - reducing a days work to a single insight or exhortation. Sometimes identify questions rather than answers.
- pg 38 - when confronted with a complex problem, simplify. Separate it into its essentials, extract a principal, and then make that point the guide for all decisions.
- pg 41 - The challenge with intuition is to access it. It forms below the realm of concious thought and draws upon all of one’s experience based on patterns.
- pg 42 - the process of intuition and analytical thinking are at different ends of the spectrum. Analysis requires focus but intuition works best from a 50,000 view. Intuition is based on inductive reasoning whereas analytical thinking is based off of deductive reasoning. Intuition is usually right when it conflicts with analysis.
- pg 43 - intuition requires you to hear the quite inner voice; it requires a deeper form of solitude isolated from other minds and your own. You just need to perceive.
- pg 48 - first step to true awareness is ceasing the noise from within becoming more in-tune with the spiritual side of things.
- pg 55 - a revelation is the collision of information, intuition, and your highest values.
- pg 56 - You need time to daydream and think freely in order to generate new ideas. Einstein spent twenty percent of his time at Princeton teaching class and eighty percent of the time staring out the window. It’s crazy to play music in the car, it is one of your only times to think.
- pg 58 - Information overload: we’re getting more of everything but less of what is authentically ourselves. As a leader, you always have the power to discipline people but you should try to inspire them.
- pg 60 - early morning reflection: drink a cup of coffee, sit, and think, looking out at the bird feeder.
- pg 61 - always act as if you’ve got eyes on you. “You remember the relationships… create the right relationships and you’ll win.” You have to state your expectations in advance. You can’t just make them up as you go along. Expectations as a statement of principles instead of rules
- pg 65 - silence and solitude creates a sacred space, an elongated space. Use journaling: write down thought streams to understand feelings. Then construct a response based on values rather than on feelings. A hyperfunctioning leader can’t listen, excercise judgment, or navigate complexity - it’s an amygdala hijack.
- pg 66 - Leaders experience fear. You need to step away and give your self space to process to stop the hyperfunctioning. The bear might not actually be a bear.* pg 67 - Engage in silence and solitude to stay grounded. A leader needs to have presence and be grounded in the moment to one’s self.
- pg 80 - clarity and conviction lead to equaniminity and emotional balance. It allows a leader to excercise his best judgment without emotional distortion. A leader through solitude maintains their emotional balance and reflects when others around them are reacting.
- pg 82 - dealing with emotional turbulence in a leadership position can be done through solitude. Unexpected adversity or being overwhelmed creates a tangled mass; use solitude to regain control. If you don’t think you have time to process it, make time. Write down the goals and the things that you need to do to meet them.
- pg 84 - relieve stress through writing or rolling your neck and shoulders on a tennis ball while letting the thought streams flow.
- pg 87,88 - a leader is distinguished by their ability to restore their emotional balance under significant adversity and emotional turmoil. Do so through the process of catharsis. Give yourself permission to take some time.
- pg 89 - when you’re out of sorts, sit on the earth and connect with it. You need solitude during points of failure and success.
- pg 90 - strategic reflection, distilling the source of turmoil down to a smaller size. Solitude allows you to determine why you’re emotionally reacting in a certain way. Sometimes what you’re upset about is a distraction from the main event.
- pg 94 - Go on long runs, it is cheaper than therapy. It allows for self-talk and cathartic purging of emotions.
- pg 95 - sublimation is the process of channeling emotion toward something positive.
- pg 97 - excess emotion comes from bottling things up for awhile. You can’t hold it forever. You need to dissipate it in a benign way away from others. But you need to be honest with yourself about the source of the emotion. Productive solitude can be a relief valve if you can acknowledge your own limitations.
- pg 98 - sometimes the anxiety is out of proportion to the actuality. Cut the problem down to size intellectually and shift the focus away from fear and recrimination toward creating actions, goals, and preperations.
- pg 102,103 - write a letter but never send it to relieve the vitriol and retain emotional balance. Dispel anxiety in a constructive way. Step outside the day’s events to allow emotions to run their course. Recover your perspective by contemplation and working through emotions. Step outside adversity to draw boundaries around it.
- pg 105 - strive to maintain a measure of detachment from emotion and crisis when fear runs rampant. Focus on decisions rather than on the consequences.
- pg 106 - crisis are apart of leadership and thereby tension. Leaders must learn how to release it and that means solitude.
- pg 110 - use solitude to see how conventional thinking undermines your objectives
- pg 112 - create space to focus on your thoughs during a crisis.
- pg 118, 119 - the feeling of being overmatched, fear, converts into anger easily. An unreflective leader is prone to volitility. Responses are often disproportionate to the event itself. A reflective leader will pause before reacting and learn the difference between leading and scalding. Learn from their mistakes. Reflect on the reasons that drove someone to you. People who are miserable often have reasons to be.
- pg 123 - active compassion, feel sympathy for oppressors by cultivating an awarness of the forces that cause them to act as they do.
- pg 130, 131 - a dissenter from the orthodoxy of one’s own tribe faces charges of betrayal. The leader who closes the door to think is aloof as is the leader who spends time with family rather than after work gatherings and drinks. A nonconformist can expect some measure of invective in response. Leaders need to work on personal as well as organizational leadership.
- pg 132 - to thine ownself be true. You can’t do that if you don’t know youself and you can’t know yourself without introspection. Worry about what you think is important, not making others happy. Introspection helps ensure that decisions are aligned with principles.
- pg 133 - can’t expect an employee to value the organization until the organization shows that the organization values the employee. Recognize those who show initiative in improving company culture.
- pg 134 - solitude is soul-restorative
- pg 135 - going from being in your best shape to your worst because you were focusing on the wrong things. Getting sucked into the corporate grind. Trail runs the solution.
- pg 136 - solitude helps brings emotional and analytical clarity through connecting the two.
pg 137 - social pressure to not engage in solitude; it is a vulnerable and courageous act. People believe that it is self-indulgent. Solitude is not the reward for great leadership it is the path to great leadership.
pg 166 - the real danger is the person who does not listen to their deepest convictions who wants to only float in conformity. If a leader cannot provide in material ways then they must provide in spiritual ways. That requires humility.
pg 167 - a leader is prone to self-admiration, setting one’s self up above one’s followers. Reflection deflates the pretensions if it is connected with first principles.
pg 170 - to respect the worth of others relative to oneself is to be humble.
- pg 181, 182 - a leader has permission and the responsibility to seek out periods of solitude. There’s social pressure to skew the balance toward interaction. The physical manifestations of these preconceptions are open-office plans and cubical ville. Reset expectations with your subordinates. Mark off sixty to ninety minutes a day to time to think (without interruption). Make it known that you check messages only during certain points in the day.
- pg 183 - reflection and hard analytical work are worth at least a third of a leader’s time. Find space for solitude and leave your phone behind.
- pg 184 - analytical thinking or intuition, running, walking, early-morning rituals, journaling, or meditation. Physical exercise releases nervous energy and helps restore emotional balance. Identify the issue in advance and review relevant material to prepare.
- pg 185 - if you’re not making progress, turn to something else and then come back.
- pg 186 - don’t worry about missing out on the information firehose. Most of the inputs are worthless anyway. Embrace hard thinking. Use solitude to identify the highest value functions.
- pg 187 - reflect on a notepad to reduce distractions. Interpersonal relationships benefit from solitude when the leader focuses on their subordinates well-being. Identify your principles and stay connected to them.
- pg 188 - find a higher purpose for your leadership