Take time to read this thoughtful speech entitled Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz given to this year’s plebe class at West Point. He describes how great leaders develop the courage of their convictions, which includes moral courage. Reflection, time alone with one’s thoughts, interactions with trusted friends and reading great books, as Deresiewicz says, are part of the mix. What he didn’t adequately include is the impact of one’s experiences in life including one’s family of origin and periods of adversity and suffering that breed humility. Despite its shortcomings, it’s a fine speech and well worth taking time to read.
Many thanks to David Books of The New York Times for bringing this thoughtful speech to my attention. Brook’s recognized Deresiewicz’s speech as one of the best pieces of long journalism written in 2010.