E. posted a link to an interesting essay on leadership, thinking,
and moral courage.
The essay is here. A few excerpts here:
"We have a crisis of leadership in America because our over-
whelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations
of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have
been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine
going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask
them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them.
Who think about how to get things done, but not whether
they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are
the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who
have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing,
but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of
expertise. What we don’t have are leaders."
"What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People
who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a
new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college,
for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of
looking at things. People, in other words, with vision."
"No, what makes him a thinker—and a leader—is precisely
that he is able to think things through for himself. And
because he can, he has the confidence, the courage, to
argue for his ideas even when they aren’t popular. Even when
they don’t please his superiors. Courage: there is physical
courage, which you all possess in abundance, and then there
is another kind of courage, moral courage, the courage to
stand up for what you believe."
"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 con-
ventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the
question, being patient, 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 out-
last my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done
and move on to the next thing."