Why Every Leader Needs Solitude

I don't know about you but my schedule has, of late, featured a lot of meetings.  Budget meetings.  Personnel meetings.  Strategy and planning.

Before you know it, you can be left scratching your head and wondering if you'll ever be able to get any real work done.  This sentiment is really a symptom of someone who craves more solitude.  They know that meetings are work but too many of them can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

Jason Fried of 37 Signals has written about the problem of too many meetings. (see "Why You Can't Work at Work") It's no wonder that people feel so negatively about work- they can't seem to get work done when they're at it.  All of the stopping and starting creates a pace that is unsustainable for focused work.

Solitude, now that's what most workplaces could use more of.  I was reminded of this tonight as I visited our parish chapel for First Friday devotions.  For Catholics, First Friday is a chance for 24 hours of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  My time slot is 6-7pm and I get a call from someone in the church a few days before just to remind me.  It's become like an anchor for my month.

I see the same people each month for the hour that I'm there.  It's quiet.  I spend some time writing in my journal and do some spiritual reading.  The solitude is almost refreshing and is a stark contrast from the frenetic pace of meetings during the week.

Leaders need moments like these and I don't mean the ones only who have fancy titles.  Ask any mom and they'll tell you that a peaceful afternoon break is worth its weight in gold.  Solitude is so valuable that once you build it into your schedule, all of the meetings and interruptions will seem like speedbumps.

The meetings will never be completely eliminated but a lifestyle that includes solitude can transform even the most ordinary work schedule.

So, how much solitude are you getting each week?