Growing up, I heard my father say the same quote countless times: “You’ll be the same person five years from now that you are today except for two things; the people you meet and the books you read”. So many times, in fact, it lost its effect on me. Surely this can’t be what changes us, right? I’ll be a different person five years from now because of what I do! Boy, was I ever wrong. What I do is the outcome of who I meet and what I read. And if I’m not meeting tremendous people and reading tremendous books and learning from both of them, how on earth am I going to transform into the fullness of what I’m supposed to be!
People ask me what leadership is and I can tell you in four short words: Leadership is Lifelong Learning. It isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you become. It’s about what you unlearn and relearn in the process of integrating new truths into your life. It’s about growing in grace and wisdom. And that doesn’t happen automatically. It only happens with intentionality. We must have the desire, the drive, and the discipline to strengthen our meeting and reading habits again and again until they become second nature.
I recently heard a new term, bibliotherapy. It’s using books to heal yourself. Well that’s exactly what all the greats in my life have prescribed to me! Your life can change with the turn of a page. Every answer we need, every idea we are seeking to create, everything we didn’t even know we didn’t know, is right there in front of us in tremendous books. Will you dedicate your life to forming the habits of answering your own questions through reading? I’ve seen it work. We conduct monthly book discussions in several PA state penitentiaries. I have personally witnessed these men come alive and find the answers to questions that have eluded them their entire lives.
What else can do that? Could I have told them the answer? Probably not because I’m not in their heads. Would they have listened to me? Maybe, but maybe not. But when we meet to learn and discuss the timeless truths that make life worth living for all men, especially for those who have made life altering choices, we transcend and form a community where mind renewal is the new norm. If there’s a higher joy in life, I’m not sure what it would be. Because as we think in our minds, so we are.