Leadership 491/493 – META Course Leadership

Leadership 491/493 – META Course Leadership

Reading Response Paper – “Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz (2011)

Topic form professor: In an excerpt from his article, “Solitude and Leadership,” William Deresiewicz (2011) reports on findings from a study conducted by a team of researchers at Stanford, claiming that, “the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself” (para 1). – Find the Article Excerpt attached within this Doc

I hope that you found this article as intriguing as I did and that it created a bit of a stir in you to think of your own multi-tasking practices. I was jolted by statements like, “You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else” (para 14). How he further describes what solitude includes is also very interesting.


Provide response to the following questions:

What Assumptions does the he makes?

What do you Agree with in the excerpt article? On what points and why?

Was there something else that he says that intrigued you?



Must Haves to Complete this Assignment:

  1. MUST heavily implying the course materials on Leadership Concepts Perspectives to integrating own broader life experience.
  2. BE PROFESSIONAL! Tone of paper must be business leadership oriented and combine with Christianity Perspective and Biblical Concept.
  3. Format: must follow the Forum Protocol
  4. Use of evidence (citations and/or personal examples)
  5. Encouraged to contribute thoughtful and concise comments and draw from course lectures, reading, and your own broader life experience.
  6. BE POSITIVE! Please try to point out the good things, straight faiths, and optimistic attitudes presented in a Christianity Perspective and Biblical Concepts.
  8. References: Total of 3 references from required Course Materials listed below:
    • Uploaded course materials including Course PPTS, PDFs, articles or Journals.
    • Required reading Course Materials:
      1. The Bible
      2. E-book uploaded: Northouse, P. G., (2018). Leadership: Theory and Practice (8th Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  1. Read HBR – Heifitz & Laurie: The Work of Leadership (pp. 57-78)
  1. The # of Sources in the order page represents the numbers of IN-TEXT CITATION needs to be insert to the paper. The source/reference can be from the same Chapter of the book.
  2. References MUST ONLY USE COURSE MATERIAL LISTED (NOT included the writing style samples). DO NOT USE outside material/sources.
  3. Makes insightful and constructive comments analysis
  4. Use of evidence (citations and/or personal examples)
  5. Providing a new thought, idea, or perspective
  6. Write your own story integrating curse learnings rather than trying to quote the text materials and speak in 3rd person form!
  7. Demonstrates exemplary understanding of the question, advanced use of critical thinking, application of ideas
  8. Uses “they say/I say” writing pattern; no (or few and very minor) language or APA flaws.
  9. Please use similar writing style with the preferred sample writing style integrate course materials with personal experiences.
  10. This is a Christianity Interpersonal Leadership: Contemporary Leadership Approaches in the senior university level course.
  11. DO NOT fill words counts with long quotations, Facts, Statistics Numbers and irrelevant materials.
  12. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions before pursuing on writing the paper!

Here’s a little information about me – The rest of it, please use your imagination:


  • Licensed REALTOR located in Greater Vancouver area, Canada.
  • BA-leadership student studying leadership in a Christian University.
  • Ethic background: As Christian, Catholic






Article Excerpt:    Solitude and Leadership    Excerpt from his lecture, “Solitude and Leadership.” 

If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts

By William Deresiewicz


My title must seem like a contradiction. What can solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others—the people you’re leading.

A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.


I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, and letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

I used to have students who bragged to me about how fast they wrote their papers. I would tell them that the great German novelist Thomas Mann said that a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The best writers write much more slowly than everyone else, and the better they are, the slower they write. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.


Now that’s the third time I’ve used that word, concentrating. Concentrating, focusing. You can just as easily consider this lecture to be about concentration as about solitude. Think about what the word means. It means gathering yourself together into a single point rather than letting yourself be dispersed everywhere into a cloud of electronic and social input. It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like dutyhonor, and country—really mean? Am I happy?

Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that “he who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions.” Notice that he uses the word lead. Leadership means finding a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward the cliff.

So solitude can mean introspection, it can mean the concentration of focused work, and it can mean sustained reading. All of these help you to know yourself better. But there’s one more thing I’m going to include as a form of solitude, and it will seem counterintuitive: friendship. Of course friendship is the opposite of solitude; it means being with other people. But I’m talking about one kind of friendship in particular, the deep friendship of intimate conversation. Long, uninterrupted talk with one other person. Not Skyping with three people and texting with two others at the same time while you hang out in a friend’s room listening to music and studying. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that “the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude.”

Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person. One other person you can trust, one other person to whom you can unfold your soul. One other person you feel safe enough with to allow you to acknowledge things—to acknowledge things to yourself—that you otherwise can’t. Doubts you aren’t supposed to have, questions you aren’t supposed to ask. Feelings or opinions that would get you laughed at by the group or reprimanded by the authorities.

This is what we call thinking out loud, discovering what you believe in the course of articulating it. But it takes just as much time and just as much patience as solitude in the strict sense. And our new electronic world has disrupted it just as violently. Instead of having one or two true friends that we can sit and talk to for three hours at a time, we have 968 “friends” that we never actually talk to; instead we just bounce one-line messages off them a hundred times a day. This is not friendship, this is distraction.

I started by noting that solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things. But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However, many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.



Deresiewicz, W. (2011) “Solitude and Leadership.” Retrieved from