Happy Monday from Chandler, AZ!

Welcome to the first official edition of Monday Morning Edge!

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m glad to have you.

Before we get into the content of this week’s newsletter, I want to share a couple things I’ve recently released. This will be review for most of you, but I wanted to share it in case you missed it.

  • On Friday, I published State of the Newsletter: It’s an inside look into the past, present, and future of this newsletter. If you’re curious about what this newsletter is about or where it’s headed, you’ll want to check it out.
  • I also launched a new email course. Based on my most popular article, Building a DIY Second Brain, this email course will help you build a note-taking system that works. You can sign up using the form in the article if you’re interested.

With that out out the way, let’s get to the content of today’s email. Today, we’re going to talk about:

  • The need for leaders who think for themselves
  • The theory of maximum taste
  • The weird trend in marriage and divorce rates around COVID-19
  • The absolute insanity of a standing double backflip

Long Read of the Week

Solitude and Leadership

Look, I know I’ve shared this before. But it needs to get shared again.

In the light of everything that’s happened in the last 10 days, this speech is more relevant than ever before.

I want to highlight 4 passages from this article that seem especially relevant for the times.

On our nation’s leadership crisis:

“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.”

On how to be a leader:

“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.”

On the issue with constant media:

“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.”

On solitude as the essence of leadership:

“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.”

In a world that is starving for true leaders, will you answer the call?

Article of the Week

A Commencement Address Too Honest to Deliver in Person

In a series of college commencement addresses published on The Atlantic, this one stood out to me.

The author (David Brooks) tells the college students that he’s worried about them. But he’s not worried for the reasons you’d expect considering the unemployment rates in America. Here’s what he said:

“No, my worry is that, especially now that you’re out of college, you won’t put enough really excellent stuff into your brain. I’m talking about what you might call the “theory of maximum taste.” This theory is based on the idea that exposure to genius has the power to expand your consciousness. If you spend a lot of time with genius, your mind will end up bigger and broader than if you spend your time only with run-of-the-mill stuff.
The theory of maximum taste says that each person’s mind is defined by its upper limit—the best that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming.”

The Theory of Maximum Taste is as applicable to you and I as it is to a college graduate. By engaging with ideas like Solitude and Leadership above, we’ll expand our mind to a realm we hadn’t previously experienced. This will help us gain our edge.

Random Bit of the Week

On a recent episode of The Knowledge Project Podcast, Jennifer Garvey Berger shared an interesting stat. Apparently, both the divorce rate AND the marriage rate increased by ~30% in Wuhan, China since the COVID-19 pandemic put the city on lockdown. You can listen to the podcast clip here.

Note: I’ve only been able to find articles that confirm that the divorce rate has increased. Nothing on the marriage rate so far.

Human of the Week

This is insane. Prepare to be amazed.

Photo of the Week

One year ago today, Jess and I arrived in Orem, Utah for my first official season as a professional baseball coach. Even as the snow melted off the mountain in the weeks that followed, I was still mesmerized by the beauty of the scene every home game.

That wraps up this week’s newsletter. If you want to discuss any of the ideas mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of Monday Morning Edge, please reach out to me by replying to this email or sending me a direct message on Twitter at @treklaitis.

Until next week,


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