The saying that friends are with us for a reason, a season, or for a lifetime… well, I think it is the exact same with books. Unfortunately, for way too many years, I considered books and the need to read them to be either an annoying chore or a mindless break while on vacation, when I’d pick a romance novel to keep the heat coming while I baked in the sun. I had put my relationship with books to the side and allowed them to be nothing more than pretty (and let’s be honest, dusty) things on my shelves and side tables.

That was until I started a leadership training program almost four years ago. Shortly after starting the program, I worked my way up the corporate ladder and became a partner at a fantastic CPA firm, but what many didn’t know was that I had been feeling stuck and unfulfilled for years despite my seemingly wonderful surroundings and achievements.

I was in the throes of a soul searching journey to figure out what I was passionate about, what my next professional step might look like, and what made my heart and soul perk up and want more! I joined the leadership program hoping to find the answers to the questions that cycled through my mind. If you aren’t happy here, then where? If you aren’t fulfilled doing this, then what?

I didn’t know those answers. I also didn’t realize that there would be required reading throughout the program I was in. To be honest, I was a little grumpy about it, but the rule follower and people pleaser in me bought the books and read like I was told. And what happened as I flipped the pages of those books and soaked in words from authors I’d never heard of was unexpected.

I started with books like True Professionalism: The Courage to Care about Your People, Your Clients, and Your Career by David Maister and Getting Naked (yes, you read that right, but it’s not what you might be thinking, silly) by Patrick Lencioni. Both books outline basic, yet seemingly revolutionary strategies on how to become a client service professional that embraces vulnerability as a core value and killer business development tool. And as it sunk in, something flipped in me.

The books and their new-to-me concepts sparked my very own dimmed curiosity and desire to learn.

Those two books, and the many that followed, forever changed the trajectory of my life. They ignited a passion in me to learn more, question more, and then, of course, read more. And specifically, read more about personal growth and development, leadership, and relationships.

Within a year, I’d read more books, filled my mind with more information, and found that I had a deep-seated passion for people and potential. Each and every book created a roadmap that led me to the clarity I’d been searching for.

The books didn’t tell me to retire from my first career and launch into my second (which I did), but they definitely helped guide me through those personal decisions, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

So, back to that saying about friends…

I’m grateful that books, and the authors that shared their knowledge, became my friends for a specific reason! They reminded me of my human need to learn. Daniel Pink, in his bestselling book Drive, includes mastery as one of the three components that truly motivates humans. We are hard-wired to want to learn and accomplish new things, but at some point so many of us stop reading, one of the best means to learn something new, once it is not required of us.

The books I started with, and the collection I’ve amassed since then, also became an integral part of my life for that season of soul searching. It was such a gift to delve into the topic of leadership. It was fascinating how I could keep reading or listening (yes, Audible 100% counts as reading, friend) for hours because each book brought me a new nugget of enlightenment. The topic or books that I fell in love with might not be the ones that others are drawn to, but that is part of the fun. There are SO MANY BOOKS, so many genres, so many specific and unique topics just waiting to be found by the right reader.

I love that I found my way back to books after I’d given them the cold shoulder for so many years. We are friends again, and this time I believe it will be for a lifetime. I can’t wait to find the next book that will speak to my soul. Those hard, soft, or audible books are gifts with significant meaning and impact, written by strong women and men that devote themselves to sharing their passions with total strangers!

And those strangers are you and me! We are the readers who hear a title, see a cover, and wonder… would I enjoy this, could I learn something from this, what does this book have to offer me and my life? We wonder these things because somewhere in each and every one of us, there is a part of us that wants, and I believe needs, to learn something new.

So here’s to making best friends with books and the reasons, seasons, and lifetime of lessons they have to offer us! I dare you to find a book, read it, learn from it, grow through it, and, most importantly, have some FUN!