At the end of 2014, I graduated from Aetna’s Enterprise Leadership & Development Program (ELDP) signifying the end of a two year journey of experiential learning. Reflecting on this experience took me back to elementary school, when my fourth grade teacher would repeatedly ask: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In fact, this question, s asked of my classmates and I repeatedly throughout elementary, middle and high school. The intent was to get us to focus on what we would do as adults so that when we went to college we could work towards that end.
The last two years were full of unique opportunities to experience various areas throughout Aetna’s enterprise, to learn new skill sets and to apply existing skill sets in creative ways. But this experience also caused me to rethink the age old question of what I wanted to do when I grew up. For me, this question has evolved in to: “What do I want to be as I grow?” Looking at it this way denotes a continuous process that repeats itself allowing me to be renewed and reinvented over and over again.
Why do we stop asking ourselves the question of what we want to be once we arrive at adulthood as if life and opportunity stops? Early on, I set my sights on working in the legal field and spent many years doing just that. Yet today, thanks to the unique opportunity presented to me by ELDP, I am embarking on a new journey and a role that takes me away from my legal roots. That doesn’t frighten me, rather, it renews and energizes me. It’s like reaching adulthood all over again!
Personal and professional growth doesn’t have to stop simply because we reach adulthood in years. We can choose to consciously acknowledge growth by allowing ourselves to be renewed and reinvented. Or we can ignore it and grow obsolete. Either way, growth happens. The trick is constantly thinking not about what we wanted to be when we grew up but to think about all the new and exciting things we can become as we grow.