I’m a junkie. I admit it. Ever since high school I’ve sought out and soaked up every book, article, class, lecture, video and blog on my fave topics that fall under the umbrella of personal and professional growth. Currently, I’m most intrigued by culture, strategy, psychology and creativity. You may enjoy learning about leadership, teamwork and influence.
I love to know what books others are reading or who they’re following on social media. It’s fun to stumble upon new resources and thought leaders. But once in a while I meet someone who “isn’t into that stuff.” They usually follow-up with a comment like, “I took a leadership class in college; leadership is leadership – no need to keep reading about it.” You could substitute any subject matter for the word leadership in that last line and the context would be the same – why bother, nothing changes.
First, let me say, to each their own. Everyone has their things, and things that are not their things. Anyone that knows me would easily tell you that pretty much anything that requires being outdoors in the heat, humidity and blazing sun, is not my thing. Part of that is my aversion to being hot and swatting bugs, part of it is because I’m damn pale and fry despite preventative measures. Leadership (insert any topic of choice) may not be their thing. To each their own.
However, this is my response to those that question continuous study in areas of personal and professional growth. It’s like the Gospel.
If you were churched growing up and throughout your life you have heard the exact …same…stories…every year or two. Yet, each time they hit you in a different way. Why? You’re not the same person you were when you were at age 7, or 16 or 29 or 38 or now. Your understanding of the world is different, your perspective, your cache of experiences. Circumstances and issues in your life have changed over time. You have an ability to understand the metaphors and binary meanings of many parables in a way you may not have when you were younger or even last year. Throw in the factor that the priest giving the homily (Catholic girl here) may be different than the last time you heard this particular Gospel, or his message is new because he has changed over the last year too.
The underlying truths are the same. Circumstances are different. You’re different. The delivery method may be different. The person delivering the lesson may be different. So you’re going to be exposed to, hear, understand, learn and apply the lessons differently this time. And you will next time as well.
I may be using the word Gospel, but this is an interfaith or even agnostic concept. If I swapped out Gospel for Leadership in the example above the same would be true. That is why continuous or refreshing one’s study in areas of personal and professional growth is important. It isn’t a one and done deal, like learning a skill that never changes. It is an ongoing deepening and expansion of one’s understanding of concepts alongside exploration of application. It’s discovery. It’s ah-has.
Now, because I work with experts, and emerging thought leaders, who often are the very teachers from whom we’re learning, I hear the other side of this question as well. “There are so many people coaching/speaking/teaching on XYZ topic, how can I possibly add anything new or make a difference?”
The same Gospel of Growth lesson applies. You’re teaching core truths. Whether they’re brand new concepts or science, or tried and true methods, the perspective, experiences, examples and approach you bring to the subject is how you make a difference. It is your genius. What you share and how you share it with the world will be different. Who is drawn to you and is ready to hear and apply what you are teaching will make a difference to them and you. You never know if your article is the 100th time someone has read about something, but you are the first to explain it in a way that they truly understand. You will have an impact. You just may not always know exactly when, where, why, to whom or how.
So the next time you’re questioning if you really need another book on ABC topic or should bother taking that course, consider these questions: What’s different about it, about the teacher, about you? How have you grown? How might you grow? Would you gain a new perspective?
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Originally posted May 19, 2015.