Personal Development Begets Professional Development

By: Lisa Amspacher

Ten years ago I would not have imagined calling myself a leader. In fact, if you asked me I would have told you I am a teacher and I am not interested in being an leader or administrator. However, sometimes our journey has some unexpected turns, taking us to places like leadership. I believe leadership starts from within and is connected to my values, dreams, desire to grow, and tenacity to overcome adversity.

In 2011, a yearly physical coincided with the harsh reality of a photo of my daughters and I on vacation a few weeks earlier. My health had taken the brunt of several years of taking classes and placing work above health. About six months prior to the physical I had experienced more life changes. Having a new employer, navigating a new position as a mathematics curriculum supervisor, and adjusting to a one-hour commute also contributed to my being overweight and out of shape.

I decided to start with a weight-loss program. A few months later I began to add walking for 30 minutes a day. I gradually increased my activity. Six months later I set a goal to do a three-day, 50-mile hike in New Hampshire. By the time July 2012 came around I was ready for the hike and I was strong. Training for the hike required me to be intentional with my time. I had to be strategic with the type of training I did in order to use my time wisely. I found that being intentional and strategic in my personal development provided benefits in my professional life as well.

After the big hike, I returned home energized and continued my plan, until October. I am not sure how it happened, but I suddenly found myself reverting to old habits; working long days, not eating well, and not working out. Past experience had proven this lack of balance affected my professional life too. I decided to set some more physical fitness and health goals. In the last year, those goals resulted in me doing the Men's Fitness NYC Urbanathlon, followed by completing two-half marathons in six weeks.

In July of this year,  I was named the Director of Learning Technologies at the same institution. Again I find myself working hard to fight against all work focus and no health focus. Trying to re-start when I have gone back to old habits can be challenging. I become less intentional and strategic, resulting in running on the proverbial "hamster wheel" and  "pretending things are ok." I encourage leaders to be intentional by having a consistent workout schedule and healthy eating habits. I have learned that when I start compromising my health and fitness, it seeps into my professional life.


Lisa Amspacher is the Director of Learning Technology at Milton Hershey School. Previously, Lisa was a classroom teacher at Red Lion Area High School, as well as teaching in Georgia. She is part of the Women of Hershey (WOH) initiative, which provides a platform for sharing best practices, connections and synergies that are ultimately meaningful for business results. Lisa also partners with Leadership ConneXtions International  (LCI), where she conducts leadership development seminars locally and internationally. She also loves to volunteer for events that promote York City. Lisa was a member of the first class of Leadership for Diverse Schools.