Reading & Lifelong Learning

At LeaderShape we believe in the power (and responsibility) of being a lifelong learner. And reading is a particularly meaningful way to expand our knowledge by exposing us to perspectives, ideas, and experiences beyond our current understanding.

National Book Month has inspired us to reflect on what we have learned from our own experiences reading books – and we want to share those lessons with you! Is there anything below that you relate to? What have books taught you?

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Mary Kate Kaufman
Books have taught me to think creatively and have provided me a new perspective on the world. They have given me my own personal space where I can wind down and take time for myself. It has taught me so many life lessons and overall how to live a happy life.

Sarah Kelsick
I have read many books about something I don’t know about or I have a strong opinion about and have seen it from another side. Books have taught me to look deeper and be more understanding.

Abby Prince
What have books taught me? As a lifelong reader, I can’t recall a day that I didn’t make time to read, even if just for 5 minutes. Books have taught me the value of habits and making time each day for what’s important. Books have also taught me that even when you don’t seem to have anything in common with the characters from the outset, you are very likely to relate to them throughout the course of the book. I think of Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Liesel from The Book Thief; Mark Watney from The Martian; or Amar from A Place for Us. Their lives in Williamsburg, Nazi Germany, Mars, and California are nothing like mine. Yet I feel forever connected to them through their loves, plights, ideals, and dreams. And isn’t it like that in our real lives? When we can find what we have in common with the people we meet, it’s easier to understand them and perhaps even like them.

Sundas Shahid
Books have and continued to stretch my perspective and worldview. They allow me to simply be part of the stories, history, and in places that in realty would be impossible for me to be part of. Books not only deepen my knowledge around certain topics but also transport me to that world.

Vernon Wall
I rarely read for pleasure. I read to be a better educator. I love hearing about cutting edge research and theories that help us better understand the college student experience. I do like narratives though where I can hear of someone’s life experience.

Kristen Young
How to escape my current reality and come back refreshed and ready to face the day.
That everyone’s lived experiences are different and there is great value in truly listening to the story of another person.
That crying can bring healing.
That laughter is good for the soul.

#toleadread Book Club

To know LeaderShape is to know that we are committed to being life-long#ToLeadRead learners, that we believe in the power of story-telling, and that we know we can learn great things when we are in community with one another. Given all of this, we want to try something new and you’re invited!

We want to take a shot at a book club of sorts, taking #toleadread to another level. Here is what we’re thinking…

We Choose a Book
And by “we”, we mean you and us together! We’ll be starting with four titles and narrowing it down to the final selection by voting in a 3-round bracket. Head over to our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account starting on Monday, October 22 and vote for the book you’d like to read along with us.

We Read it Together
Once the votes are in, the book choice will be announced on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and right back here on our blog. We’ll have about a month to read the book, and some of us on staff will be sharing our progress as we go. You can do the same using #toleadread.

We Have an Awesome Conversation
Meet us on BigMarker (link coming soon!) on Wednesday, November 28 at 1:00pm CST to explore the book with other LeaderShapers. Some of the LeaderShape staff will be there to lead us through questions and discussion points.

We hope you’ll join us for this experiment! Until then, drop us any questions you have down below.

#toleadread

Friday 5: 5 Ways to Live Compassionately

What does it mean to have compassion?

In very simple terms, it means to seek to compassionblog-post-imageunderstand the life of another person. Whether the person be in your life for years or just a moment, the interaction they have with you is one in which they are valued, heard, and appreciated. Why is compassion important? Because everyone suffers. Everyone. Not everyone’s suffering is the same but regardless of the cause of that suffering, we can all relate to that feeling of pain. When we see that in each other, our hearts are opened to the possibility that we are a lot more alike than we are different.

How then do we live compassionately? Here are a few thoughts…

Withhold judgement. It is easy to see the “perfect” family picture on Instagram and quickly craft a story about that person’s experience, thinking that their life is perfect and they don’t face any trials. It is just as simple to have an interaction with a co-worker who seems agitated and jump to conclusions about them as a person. Don’t craft the story in your head, let the story unfold as the other person wants to share it.
Serve without the expectation of getting anything in return. Let’s be honest, deep down we are all a little selfish and often want to do things because of what we get in return. Put those feelings aside and as you see a need and serve. Don’t boast about it. Don’t expect anything in return. And then when it is over, think about the time you spent serving and what it meant for those you were with.
Be vulnerable. Being with someone as they face a challenge in life is difficult and it can trigger emotions that we would rather not recognize. When a friend gets expelled from school because of academic failure and you are with them when they tell their parents, it requires you to be present and be in the moment with them. Don’t back away from the opportunity to share your emotions, feelings, and experiences. Doing so can create a space for others to do the same. It can show others that no matter what hurt or hang-up they have, they are important to you.
Wish others well. When a car cuts you off in traffic, the first thought in your mind may not be one of good wishes. But what if it was? And not in a sarcastic way – but one of true thoughtfulness. As we go through our days, we interact with many people that we know nothing about. From the cashier at the movie theater to the telemarketer that calls every single week to ask us to change our cable service, they each have a story. What if my reaction was first one of well wishes before one of frustration? It can change the way you see people because your first thought is one of positivity and not frustration.
Practice Self-Compassion. All of the concepts above can be applied to you as well. We are often our own worst critics and, when the world around is also judging us, there can be little escape. So be kind to yourself. See the goodness that you bring to the lives of others. Take time to heal the hurts of your own life.

How will you practice compassion in the coming days? Tell us in the comments!

Kristen Young serves as Senior Vice President at LeaderShape. She is a lifer at LeaderShape! Her first experience with LeaderShape was as a participant and she hasn’t left since!  Outside of work, Kristen is a wife and mother who tries every day to live a life lead by her values and embracing the joy that can come from the ordinary.