You might wonder why I’m including “Failing Up,” an autobiography from Broadway and Hollywood star, Leslie Odom, Jr. in my business book club. Simply put, this ultra-short (83 pages!) and easy read is one of the best illustrations of the power of personal and professional development out there.

What does Tony Award-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. know about professional development? Check out my review of his book, 'Failing Up' to find out! (Spoiler: it's a lot!) #personaldevelopment #professionaldevelopment #failingup Click To Tweet

Odom, the Tony- and Grammy-award winning actor who originated the role of Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” shares stories of his hard work, perseverance, risk, and growth. Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:

  • “Preparation is the sign of your intention.”
  • “You have permission to fail.”
  • “You have to be both a harsh critic and strong advocate for yourself.”
  • “Don’t ever stop getting better. Make it your mantra. Make it habitual.”
  • “Gratitude has a drawing power all its own.”

It turns out the lessons Odom learned about personal and professional development from the entertainment business relate to those of a typical cube-dweller in corporate America exceptionally well.

“Preparation is the sign of your intention”

Placing the energy of your intention into preparation will, if not guarantee your success, will give you a much better shot at it. Thorough preparation, whether it’s for a Hollywood audition or a job interview (or a presentation or important meeting), gives you confidence and calm that’s rarely there when you haven’t done all you could to get ready.

The more you prepare, the calmer you are, which makes for a better foundation to take risks from. Which leads us to…

“You have permission to fail”

I often tell my clients (and everybody else I know) that growth only comes from risk. Which means that sometimes, things are not going to work out.

Odom says that when you give yourself permission to fail, you’re allowing yourself to take risks. Sure, you might tank. But what is possible for you if you don’t?

As long as you’re learning from your mistakes and bouncing back, you’ll do better in the long run if your mindset is rooted in possibility, rather than fear.

“You have to be both a harsh critic and strong advocate for yourself”

To get better, you need the self-awareness to be able to assess where things aren’t going the way you’d want them to. Odom calls it the first step in improving your performance.

You also need to stand up for yourself as you develop. Both to get resources for your growth (like for training, job shadowing, or coaching) and to advocate for patience and understanding from others as you try out your new skills.

“Don’t ever stop getting better. Make it your mantra. Make it habitual.”

You can’t afford not to develop yourself. Stagnation isn’t just boring, it’s career limiting. That said, getting better isn’t all about getting promoted every 5 seconds. It’s about developing your skills, executing your current job with excellence, and finding new ways to improve the way you show up for yourself, your customers, and your team.

Humans need the stimulation of learning and growing, so the habit of continuous improvement serves your career while it’s serving your psyche.

“Gratitude has a drawing power all its own”

The practice of mindful gratitude is something that Odom and I share. And it’s not just for your personal life. Speaking your heartfelt gratitude in the workplace (without being phony or fawning) opens you up to others. People are drawn to others who express how grateful they are. Which makes for easier connections and collaboration. Which, in turn, makes for better workplaces and higher productivity.

It turns out I have a lot in common (at least philosophically) with Leslie Odom, Jr. Who knew?

Which of Leslie Odom, Jr.’s quotes resonates most with you? Hit us up in the comments below with your thoughts.