Lead Yourself First: 5 Reasons Why Solitude Should Be Your #1 Priority

Lead Yourself First Solitude

I get it. I’ve got five reasons why solitude should be your number one priority and you’ve got at least a gazillion why it can’t be.

You’ve got kids and work and a spouse and family and gym and lift club and…

I’m mean, c’mon, who the heck has time for solitude?

Why is Solitude Important?

Let’s take a step back and look at why solitude is so important. Make that two steps back. We first need to get clear on what solitude means.

In their book Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude, authors Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin define it as:

You minus inputs.

Put another way, solitude means time alone with no distractions. Specifically, no digital distractions. So no smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.

Yup, I’m onto you.

Technically, you might be alone. But if your nose is stuck in your Instagram feed, you’re not engaging in solitude. You’re either distracting yourself or allowing yourself to be distracted.

Either way, you’re going to have a hard time getting clear on who you are, what your purpose is and what’s important to you, when you’re constantly being bombarded by inputs.

Technology is awesome. It allows us to do all sorts of things in a fraction of the the time it used to take us. Online banking, email, getting directions, finding a recipe, calling a cab, ordering food. What’s not to love?

Sayonara fax-land is all I can say.

But, the payoff for all this technology is our solitude. We’re never not available, because our smartphones are always with us.

There’s no opportunity to just ponder life’s mysteries, to just be.

If the thought of turning off your phone has you breaking out in hives, I’d suggest taking Brian Johnson’s Conquering Digital Addiction masterclass.

Also, watch Cal Newport’s TED talk on why you should quit social media. He’s the reason I quit social media. (Well, mostly quit.)

in short, it’s time to get some solitude. You need to take a break from everything. The real people right in front of you as well as the world inside your phone.

The Benefits of Solitude

Scheduling non-negotiable blocks of solitude into your calendar offers a host of benefits. I’ll list some below (and expand on each), but it’s important to note that they’re neither stagnant nor disparate.

The more you embrace solitude, the more you’ll notice your life improving in ways you didn’t expect. Think of it as an investment for the soul.

It’s interesting. We humans spend a lot of time obsessing over our financial investments, yet we neglect to consider the importance of investing in ourselves.

We leave no space in our busy lives to take care of our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. It’s time to change all that, starting with solitude.

[Video] Lead Yourself First

In this episode of PNTV, our philosopher guru Brian Johnson, unpacks five of his favourite big ideas from Lead Yourself First. The book makes the argument that there is an integral relationship between solitude and leadership.

Throughout history, leaders have used solitude as a matter of course. Doing so afforded them increased clarity, creativity, emotional balance and moral courage.

Brian unpacks all of that in more detail, so be sure to check out the video.

I have yet to read the book (it’s next in line on my virtual nightstand), but here are my own reasons for why solitude should be your number one priority.

1. Solitude Helps You Show Up

We’re not islands. We all have people who rely on us. We need ‘strength for two’ to show up as our best selves whenever it’s required of us.

We don’t expect our car to run on fumes, yet we’re more than happy to expect that of ourselves. Problem is, at some point burnout happens.

Pro Tip: When you’re all burnt out you can’t take care of your people.

2. Solitude Is the Best Counselor You’ll Ever Have

Hyperbole? I don’t think so. There’ll always be instances where you need to call on a professional counselor, someone to help you find your way when life happens.

But when it comes to knowing who you are and remaining true to that, no matter what, nothing beats solitude. Seriously, nothing beats it.

Pro Tip: Journalling is a great way to learn more about yourself.

3. Solitude Keeps You Healthy

When you work too hard, when you burn the candle at both ends, when you keep going despite warning after warning from your body, something’s going to give.

Invariably, that something is your health. Call me a woo-woo hippie if you want, but I’m of the opinion that getting sick is your soul’s way of getting some solitude.

Pro Tip: Take a break before you get sick so you can enjoy the time alone.

4. Solitude Inspires Creativity

In her bestselling book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages the reader to go on a weekly artist date. These solitary excursions fill your creative well.

Creativity is food for the soul and comes in all shapes and forms. We’re all creative. It doesn’t matter if your happy place is in the kitchen, in Excel or in the boardroom, creativity fuels you.

Pro Tip: If life feels like work it’s a sure sign you’re overdue for a little solitude.

5. Solitude Makes You a Nicer Person  

Taking time out to be by yourself is akin to gulping in air after swimming under water. You need to take a break from everyone to recharge your soul’s batteries.

You’ll know you’re running on reserves when you start feeling grumpy or frayed around the edges. Try not to let it get to that point.

Pro Tip: If you’ve never sought out solitude before, it may come as a shock to the people around you. Don’t let their reticence stop you, though.

Bottom line? Self-care is what will get you to where you want to be in 2018. It begins with solitude. Lead yourself first and everything else will fall into place.

Books, Articles & Talks That Pair Well with Solitude

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.