Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
This is an adage that has been around for some time and referenced when people give sermons or talk about health. It has taken on new life recently as people try to cling onto positivity in a world that seems to be fueled by negativity.
During the covid lock down, I turned to Audiobook as a way to increase my ability to digest information while staying active and getting steps. Following the lead of leadership and positivity gurus like Jon Gordon, I focused on audiobooks that reinforced the positive strength that is inside all of us as well as the potential to serve others and share that positivity with the world around you. I was listening to a couple of books a month, sprinkling in regular books as well as some podcasts.
I built up a routine of waking in the morning and reading the bible. Something I had never done for longer than a week. I would head out for a walk, and I put in my AirPods and start to soak in the positive vibes, and I had to be careful not to let my mind wander as it would when reading a book. Flipping back a page or rescanning a paragraph is a lot easier than constantly rewinding your audiobook while walking. As an avid highlighter and notetaker when reading, audiobooks were an adjustment to me, I had to make sure that I was walking in areas without hazards or traffic as I learned to take notes while walking or on a treadmill. (I know, our Safety team at work is freaking out right now!) But I got better and have been able to capture all my notes on my audiobooks and have even spent time reviewing them and referencing them as I write my various posts.
All this positivity and learning was feeding my soul and creating positive energy. I was thriving, even if my family was getting a little tired of all that I was sharing with them. I went on a trip to Indiana alone and decided that I did not want to listen to an educational book as I would not be able to take notes while driving, so I downloaded a “fun” book, a novel like I used to read back when we traveled on airplanes for business… you remember those times. Wow did time fly.
I read some new Ludlum sponsored books. I discovered Will Wight and his free audiobooks that had narrators that made you feel like you were watching a movie. I ran through 20 of these books in 7 months. I also sprinkled in some learning books for good measure, but I found myself waiting for the next book in a series.
During this, I noticed that some of my habits had changed. Despite the increased steps I was getting in walking, my weight was not coming off and I was putting it back on. My writing wasn’t as urgent. The positive habits I had been creating were starting to fade away. I was getting quieter in the evenings as stress started to creep back into my life and frustrations were mounting at work and in my view of society.
I noticed that I was finishing off my morning readings with journaling as much and documenting why I was grateful. I began to reflect on what had changed. I started to return to work instead of being 100% work from home. My middle son started college. Traveled with my family for my nephew's wedding. No, none of that really added up.
Then it dawned on me, I had limited the amount of positivity I was bringing into my life. I was still trying to be positive in my writing, in my leading, in my engagement with others but without that positive influx of positivity and energy, I didn’t have the fuel I needed. I was not creating the fuel I needed to be impactful. It was clear to me that the external input, leadership audiobooks, that I was using to help fuel my positivity had been replaced by books with empty calories if you will. It’s like wood that burns hot but does not last through the night.
At my son’s 19th birthday dinner, I decided to share this revelation with my family as a conversation turned to demeanor and attitudes being shaped by an environment. This is always risky in my family as not all of them appreciate my deep philosophical perspectives on self and how that affects others. Surprisingly, my wife looked at me and said she agreed. She had noticed the change in me as well and her reference period aligned perfectly with when I changed out what I was reading.
While this was not a scientific study that was peer reviewed by the greatest thinkers in an area of expertise, it makes sense to me and to those I care about. It makes enough sense that I at once jumped into Atomic Habits with a fresh new perspective and a ton of zeal. I can feel the energy burning once again inside of me to be impactful for others. So, what are you reading? What are you taking in? Because if it isn’t positive, how will you be positive for others? Control what goes in so you can control what goes out Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.