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Podcast #333: Solitude & Leadership | The Art of Manliness

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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

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