January 06, 2021


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Leadership is dynamic and ever-changing. Different points in a company’s lifecycle and other stressors on an organization will require different types of leadership. Leaders must, therefore, constantly iterate to make ourselves better. 

Professional development is often misunderstood and even more so misimplemented. In many companies, it is a hand wave or a compliance-driven event in which employees (and leaders) click through endless slides while multitasking on other projects. Professional development must have a goal and a focus. It is too broad to say, “I am going to develop myself or my team professionally.” We must first understand the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and our teams. Then focus professional development on a clear and defined goal.

Reading is one method of personal and organizational professional development. Our experiences and what we can consume and learn by being present in a function all day can only go so far and be so broad. Reading opens up other venues and experiences for increased knowledge, exponentially adding to our practical intelligence (the ability to use our experiences as a basis for future decision-making).

Other events often overcome us, or we claim we are too busy to read, or maybe we are just lazy because our eyes hurt from video calls all day, so we don’t want to read. This complacency will quickly set in and become the norm. Before we know it, six months or a year will go by without reading anything. 

To combat complacency, it helps to think in terms of “micro” vs. “macro” discipline. We, as people, too often believe that we have to achieve everything at once. We need to make more money now; we need to lose 10 pounds now; or read the whole book today. We look around at successful people with nice houses and cars and assume it just happened to them in a day or week. The reality is that those results took time and effort along incremental steps. They did a little bit each day without compromise and a substitute. 

There is no excuse for being too busy to read. What if you read 10-15 pages a day. That is 10-15 minutes a day. That is over 300 pages a month. Most books are 200-300 pages. That means that if you can have the micro-discipline to read ten pages a day (10-15 minutes), you can read 12 books a year. That is 12 times the practical intelligence, drive, humility, and curiosity you have today. Then compound that annually over five years, ten years, or a 20-year career. The value brought to our organizations and personal success of reading hundreds of books at 10 minutes a day is much better spent than scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.

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