First it was self-help, now it’s “selfies” — American culture tends to point to the individual rather than others. Is that always bad? Author Ryan Leak has some thoughts, and he shares them in his recent book, “Leveling Up: 12 Questions to Elevate Your Personal and Professional Development.”
“The ‘selfie’ industry is booming,” writes Leak, a pastor, speaker, author and executive coach. “By constantly being in selfie mode, we run the risk of becoming self-absorbed. What is even more dangerous than being self-absorbed is actually believing we’re self-made.”
He points to the popularity of self-help books, one of the top genres in the publishing world. Such books share a common focus on making oneself a better person. And though a central point of Christianity is focusing on others, identifying one’s personal character qualities can provide insight into how best to help others.
Terms like self-care, self-awareness and self-improvement are frequently batted around, so Leak uses them to explore how they are relevant to one’s personal and professional development while also maintaining a spiritual foundation.
Leak’s Christian upbringing contributed to keeping his focus on God instead of self. Until the fifth grade, Leak grew up in a church where his dad was pastor. He saw the impact his dad had through his messages.
In his teen years, Leak realized the only reason he believed was his parents. He wanted his faith to be a personal decision. He accepted Jesus as His Savior and began to follow his dad’s example of inspiring others.
After a decade of speaking almost exclusively to those in the church community, he began to be asked to speak at corporate events. These bookings are now 80% of his speaking career, and they have given him a new point of view.
“It’s given me a unique perspective on how outsiders experience the church at large,” Leak said. “I believe that if the Church is going to be effective in reaching outsiders, [it has] to go outside.”
Leak wrote “Leveling Up” after a discovery he made during the pandemic.
He explained, “A lot of people were just in a rut and didn’t have the tools to grow. They were expecting someone else to come along and grow for them, but that’s not how growth works.”
“From my travels in the church and corporate America, I began to notice that there were people who survived a pandemic and other people who oddly thrived in a pandemic.” Leak continued. “When I began to study the difference between the two, I found questions that helped people thrive and take their life and career to the next level.”
Though not necessary for reading “Leveling Up,” one way to start this journey is to take the Leveling Up assessment: ryanleak.com/levelingupassessment .
“The Leveling Up assessment is for anyone trying to determine where they’re at in their life or career. You could be winning at work and losing at home. It’s important to understand the important areas of our life that we could improve,” Leak said.
Revolving around the core principles of self-awareness and helping others, the book explores topics such as:
- Discovering your definition of success.
- How I’m seen by others.
- Improving myself and my team skills.
- Owning your mistakes.
- Risk-taking and embracing failure.
- Helping others with their dreams.
- Managing time, rest and enjoyment.
- Being transparent.
Each chapter asks a question related to the above topics. After exploring ideas on the subject, it ends with a chapter recap as well as a Do It Now section that gives readers practical ways to answer the question.
Relying on 1 Thessalonians 4:10–12, “Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders, and so that you will not be dependent on anybody,” Leake says, “I see God’s hand at every turn, failure, setback and victory.”
To find out more about Leak, go to ryanleak.com/. “Leveling Up” is available at online retailers and anywhere books are sold.