Most of what we read regarding leadership preparation and development focuses solely on the professional side of development. Meaning, our personal interests and activities are often compartmentalized and seen as a separate type of development. Truth is, you can’t separate personal and professional growth. Our experiences and our learning can’t be parceled out as if we are two different people. As we grow personally, we do so professionally as well. It is why personal cultivation is important to our professional success.
A few months ago I read an inspiring book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, that my wife recommended. That book then prompted me to read another book on a similar topic, Of Windmills and War by Diane Moody. Both books are historical fiction and set during World War II, an era which I am consistently drawn to and interested in due to the extraordinary circumstances and events that occurred during the time period. During both reads, I stopped numerous times to google issues, topics, and events that were not familiar to me or that I just wanted to find out more about. The reading of both books made me reflect upon “The Greatest Generation” of women and men who gave so much. That in turn prompted me to write a short opinion article that was published in the Wilmington News Journal (https://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/2019/12/18/he-survived-battle-of-the-bulge-and-with-partner-went-on-to-personify-greatest-generation/2678065001/).
This is just one example of how personal choice and reflection equals growth both personally and professionally. By simply picking up and reading a book, I wasn’t just reading. I was also continuing to evolve into a person who developed a greater understanding of the world we live in and expanded into a more thoughtful, empathetic, open-minded, and conscientious individual. My level of awareness in regards to equity and important social issues such as LBGTQ+ rights, equal pay for equal work, social justice, Black Lives Matter, and many others was expanded due to the connections made between yesterday and today. Undoubtedly, this carries into my professional work and, in turn, leads to me being a stronger leader, a better colleague, and a better human being.