Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude: Book Review

Lead Yourself First

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude is simply the best book I have read on reflection and solitude and it’s benefits for leaders. Through history and great leaders the author illustrates the, value of seeking time to think alone. I have  written about the importance of reflection in the past and its importance to learning and understanding.

Reflection is an everyday process and can be a valuable way to help us not only review our lives and personal improvement but it also adds great value to crisis situations and our efforts to continually improve. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine. We reflect on a range of everyday problems and situations all the time: What went well? What didn’t? Why? How do I feel about it? We don’t usually follow a formula for this, it just happens as feelings, thoughts, and emotions about something gradually surface. We might choose to do something differently, or not, as a result of reflecting, but reflection is essentially a kind of loose processing of thoughts and feelings about an incident, a meeting, a day—any event or experience at all.

I love the way the author uses stories from history to illustrate his points on solitude and reflection. It beats the hell out of too  much theory and in my opinion helps drive the lessons on reflection home so they stick.

Throughout history, leaders have used solitude as a matter of course. Martin Luther King found moral courage while sitting alone at his kitchen table one night during the Montgomery bus boycott. Jane Goodall used her intuition in the jungles of central Africa while learning how to approach chimps. Solitude is a state of mind, a space where you can focus on your own thoughts without distraction, with a power to bring mind and soul together in clear-eyed conviction. But these days, handheld devices and other media leave us awash with the thoughts of others. We are losing solitude without even realizing it.

To find solitude today, a leader must make a conscious effort. This book explains why the effort is worthwhile and how to make it. Through gripping historical accounts and firsthand interviews with a wide range of contemporary leaders, Raymond Kethledge (a federal court of appeals judge) and Michael Erwin (a West Pointer and three-tour combat veteran) show how solitude can enhance clarity, spur creativity, sustain emotional balance, and generate the moral courage necessary to overcome adversity and criticism. Anyone who leads anyone--including oneself--can benefit from solitude. With a foreword by Jim Collins (author of the bestseller Good to Great), Lead Yourself First is a rallying cry to reclaim solitude--and all the benefits, both practical and sublime, that come with it.

I highly recommend this book.


Stay Oriented!