To know what you think, be alone with your thoughts

I'm still digesting this wonderful lecture to West Point plebes from essayist William Deresiewicz, who quotes from Heart of Darkness to make a point about the important and neglected value of solitude. If you want others to follow you, be alone with your thoughts.

What can solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others—the people you’re leading. When we think about leadership in American history we are likely to think of Washington, at the head of an army, or Lincoln, at the head of a nation, or King, at the head of a movement—people with multitudes behind them, looking to them for direction. And when we think of solitude, we are apt to think of Thoreau, a man alone in the woods, keeping a journal and communing with nature in silence.

When you're done with that, read this.