Going Beyond Professional Growth to Personal Growth
How can we invest in our co-workers so that they are not only successful in their jobs but also feel inspired, challenged and pushed to go above and beyond in life?
By David Cygielman
When I started my first job in the Jewish community, my boss had just begun his six week summer trip to Cambodia. Instead of setting up a training or onboarding schedule for me before he left, he simply told me to “read books that will make you better, spend time with people who are smarter than you and go places where you will learn.” Morris, 83-years-old at the time, said we would work on implementing a strategy together when he returned. But I wasn’t sure what to do for the six weeks until then.
With Morris’s directions fresh in my mind, I spent my first month-and-a-half on the job focused on personal growth. I read a book every two days, studied at the Esalen Institute, and set up two meetings a day with people I admired in Santa Barbara. This time was not intended to hone a skill or improve on an area where I felt deficient at work; it was all about making me a stronger person and more comfortable with my own direction and thoughts. What started as very slow and confusing days, quickly morphed into a time that I will never forget. I will be forever grateful for those six weeks because they shaped my next six years with Morris and the Forest Foundation (which would eventually lead to the creation of Moishe House).
Today, I often hear about employers and bosses speaking about the importance of growing their staff, but these conversations tend to focus almost exclusively on professional growth: How to help a team member improve in an area of their work or gain skills that will benefit them in their specific role. While these opportunities are important, they are only an extension of work. A boss’s job is to ensure that their team succeeds, but what about beyond the specific duties of the job? Let’s not pat ourselves on the back for merely making our teams better at the jobs they are doing, let’s also push ourselves to learn and grow in ways that may never directly impact the details of our job descriptions. This is not vacation, it is hard work that takes discipline, time and strategy.
A good friend and my first boss while I was interning during college used to say, “At the end of the day, the only things that will matter are the books you read and the people you meet.” How can we invest in our co-workers so that they are not only successful in their jobs but also feel inspired, challenged and pushed to go above and beyond in life? It may not make the accountant better at numbers but I strongly believe it will make them and the people around them stronger, more creative and most importantly, fulfilled. I urge us all to think about our own growth and those of the people around us, not only in terms of professional growth but also with a new focus on personal growth.
David Cygielman is Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Moishe House.