Saturday, March 27, 2010

solitude and leadership

My boss, the venerable Bill Shore, forwarded one of the most phenomenal speeches I've read in a while. Not that I'm reading 100 speeches a day or anything. It's titled Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz. It was delivered to the plebe class of the US Military Academy at West Point last year.

It was long, and that's always hard for me, especially if I'm reading it online. My attention wanders to other tabs at least several times every few minutes. For example, while typing this post I remembered I had to buy tickets to the New Pornographers show. So what did I do? Bounced over to Facebook to get the link to the website to purchase the tickets and the rest is history.

One of the ideas I got out of it was the concept of trying to quiet all the noise of Twitter, Facebook and everything else (Blogger, perhaps?). It's gotten so hard to focus on one thing at a time. To concentrate and dedicate our energy into one task at a time. Even as I type this I'm thinking of all the things I have to do today, the plans I have for next week, etc. This guy ain't kidding...

The main theme, of course, as the title would indicate, is the idea of pairing solitude and leadership. Sometimes, when something matters to you, a principle, a belief, you have to be the lone champion. You have to become okay with criticism. You really have to find a way to allow yourself to continue when everybody thinks you're crazy. Radical ideas are sometimes just new ideas that people can't process yet. Of course the Tea Party goers might say this and that doesn't lend much credence to my defense. But, to help me out, here's another example, my ties to feminism puts a wedge between me and some of my friends, sometimes. Many of my friends would argue that women have arrived. They arrived back in 1920 when we got the right to vote and we should've shut up a long time ago. But I'm not going to let their criticism keep me from arguing otherwise. I have to become comfortable with not always agreeing with everyone I'm friends with.

The speech was an eye opener, to say the least. I love these little bits of inspiration that float my way. They keep me going.

Read the speech here.

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