I believe every leader needs to seek solitude.
1. Reveal how you’re really doing. The quiet outside will reveals the quiet or disquiet within you.
2. Help you discover what is most meaningful and important. The unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates).
3. Give you insight into your character. Silence and introspection have a way of revealing the truth about who you are. Ultimately, character, not competency, determines your capacity.
4. Give you energy. Like exercise, practicing the discipline of solitude gives you energy.
5. Let you actually achieve clarity. You can only really achieve clarity when you’ve slowed down enough to listen.
6. Renew intimacy. Intimacy isn’t possible in a rush. True intimacy only happens when no one’s in a hurry.
7. Establish priorities. Clarity helps us re-establish priorities.
8. Restore your soul. If you’ve lost your soul, solitude will help you find it. If it’s out of balance, solitude can help you restore it.
The pattern of solitude might look slightly different for all of us.
Here are 5 doable ways for busy leaders to carve out solitude in the rhythm of every day life
1. Get up earlier. Even if it’s just 15 minutes earlier than you get up now, starting your day earlier allows you stillness than will otherwise elude you for the rest of the day. I get up every day between 4:45-5:30 a.m. so I have solitude before anything else begins.
2. Calendar solitude. I intentionally book very few meetings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My perfect week has none. That’s because I bring the highest value as a leader when I’m working on the business I lead, not in it.
3. Find a hobby you do alone. For me, it’s walking or hiking. 80% of the time, I walk alone. No one interrupts me. The movement in my body kickstarts movement in my mind. Some of my best ideas have come when I’m walking. Other leaders I know choose photography, running, kayaking, cycling or other hobbies. Even if you start with an hour a week, it will clear your mind.
4. Take a personal retreat. I like to go to the mountains or the high desert to take walks and out myself in a new environment. Even a day can do wonders.
5. Take a mid-day break. Turn the music off, turn off your phone and go sit somewhere. Even for ten minutes. Find a park bench. Sit by yourself at Starbucks. Sit in the shade in your car.