Lead Yourself First Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Lead Yourself First highlights the importance of solitude, sorting your mind, and self-awareness in leading others, recommending strongly aligned goals and an inspiring mission to get others to take initiative on your shared objectives.

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Lead Yourself First Summary

Leadership is a skill that many confuse with authority or the power that comes with a certain social status. However, leadership is an emotion born into the mind of the leader. It transcends all the way to those that follow their lead, making them feel connected under the same goal. Leaders make their people want to follow and participate in accomplishing the common goal. And they do this by setting a prime example of great work ethic and confidence. Unlike a boss, a leader doesn’t impose certain tasks, but defines them and then delegates them.

To become a leader, one must first learn how to deal with their own thoughts and insecurities. They also need to search for the inner wisdom that comes with solitude. Lead Yourself First by Raymond M. Kethledge comes forth with real-life examples of leaders, like Martin Luther King, Dwight Eisenhower, or Winston Churchill, who’ve found themselves in solitude and managed to change the world with their leadership skills. The book explores not only what made them great, but also how you too can follow their example and become a leader yourself.

Here are my three favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Great leaders use solitude to deal with four aspects of their life.
  2. FOMO is a dangerous trap for anyone who is serious about their responsibilities.
  3. Solitude can help you alleviate negative emotions and triggers.

Now, we’ll explore each lesson in detail and clarify some of the most important aspects of the book, so that you’ll get the most out of it!

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Lesson 1: Solitude is bliss if you embrace it and learn to control four essential aspects of your life with it

Solitude is one of the most powerful tools of a leader. Why? Because it allows for unstructured time for the mind to recenter and run deeper cognitive processes. Oftentimes, this leads to breakthrough discoveries and better coordination of activities, if we embrace it and choose not to respond to all external stimuli, or the tsunami of inputs, as the author calls them. 

From responding to emails to spot-checking notifications, these are all part of the super-human model that modern leaders are trying to achieve. Unfortunately, it leads to decreased productivity and creativity, and an increase in anxiety and frustration. 

Therefore, the book suggests using solitude to gain leverage over four aspects: clarity, creativity, emotional balance, and moral courage. We’ll focus more on clarity, as the purpose of this book is to help you become a better leader. Clarity implies switching off your connection to the outside world once in a while to have time to recharge and gain a clearer perspective. 

The constant input of distractions can throw you off your balance, and you can’t afford that. Sitting in solitude and practicing introspection is what great leaders do. And doing so will facilitate great ideas coming to you.

Lesson 2: Get over your fear of missing out and focus on your work

The fear of missing out keeps many people in the same vicious loop they find hard to break and for a reason! The constant flux of stimuli rewired us to constantly check pop-up notifications, emails, news, and feel bad when we don’t. 

How many of you can honestly say that if you receive a message, you won’t jump to check it out? Not too many! However, when we’re engaged in a task or we’re running some errands, FOMO can really distract our attention from work, which will likely result in a poor outcome. 

Hence, if you think you can multitask, you’ll have to think again. The author is firm that you should focus 100% on your craft and not give course to external stimuli. Otherwise, your final product is going to be of lower quality. In solitude, our creativity and emotional intelligence grow. And our brain has a “moment of respiro” to catch up on ideas and insights. 

Turning off our phones and banning distractions will be highly beneficial in the long run. Even though we feel that we’ll be missing out on important updates. Make peace with the thought that you’re missing out by telling yourself that you can catch up any time. And that it’s no big deal if you subtract yourself from the outside world for a few moments once in a while.

Lesson 3: Worldwide leaders use solitude as a retreat to heal and come back stronger, and so should you

If you look at the great figures in the history of humankind, you’ll notice a few similarities and common patterns. Above all, leaders are brave both in their thoughts and endeavors, are not afraid to speak their minds, and they often practice solitude. 

In fact, decluttering their mind and allowing it to sync with everything going on, plus their body and spirit, is what gives them strength and courage. As previously mentioned, it’s particularly important to detach yourself from the factors that interfere with your workflow. However, sometimes there’s something more difficult to let go of when you’re trying to practice solitude: yourself. 

That’s right! At times, decluttering our minds starts from within, and banning outside factors is just complementary. 

Mind chatter, overthinking, and negative emotions, can all interfere with our minds and disturb us. For this reason, meditation in solitude is highly recommended. In fact, any healthy approach to getting your mind to stop stressing and thinking all the time is beneficial. 

Breathwork does an amazing job, and so does unstructured time spent reflecting on your life and inner spirit. Great leaders around the world and historical personalities have always been advocates of such practices. They allowed them to open up more creative sides of their brains. It also leaves more room for great ideas to emerge.

Lead Yourself First Review

Lead Yourself First is a guide for leaders and those who are struggling with becoming leading figures, as it teaches its readers how to find confidence and perspective in solitude. By learning how to shut down unnecessary noise from outside and within, a leader can tap into their own power and discover great insights, clarity, grow their emotional intelligence, and nurture their creativity. This book is a must read for all those who are looking to learn about leadership from great personalities in history, such as Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill, and whoever wants to become more persuasive, confident, and clear in their leadership approach.

Who would I recommend the Lead Yourself First summary to?

The 35-year-old project manager who wants to improve their leadership, the 40-year-old person who wants to know more about the great leaders of the world that shaped today’s history, or the 30-year-old introvert who wants to take on more interesting projects at work but knows they have to improve their leadership skills first.

Last Updated on January 27, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.