A common coaching question is “what would it take to say yes to [fill in the blank]? In my particular case, it was saying yes to a book. I have wanted to write a book since I became a high school English teacher at 24. I thought it would be a novel, and then as the years wore on and I changed careers many times, I thought it would be something non-fiction, probably around leadership or teams. I have come up with many book titles and even drawn up outlines for books but have never quite got there until now.
So what did it take for me to say yes to a book? A few rather interesting discoveries, thanks to the conversations with my brilliant book coach, Danielle Pope, my equally as brilliant husband, Dave Whittington and my equally as brilliant friend, Claire Abbott:
- That the book was writing me, not the other way around. When I started the book, I had a vague idea about what I was going to say, but mainly the idea just wouldn’t go away. I needed to give it some time and energy and learn about the book by writing it.
- As an adult educator, I think and am energized by developing and facilitating learning. So the first draft of my book was actually an e-learning course, followed by a one day workshop. That was a major “ah-ha” for me and fundamentally shifted my energy about writing.
- Related to the above, that a book could start small (a 7 day e-learning course) and evolve into a full length book.
- That writing a book is different from any other type of work I do and I couldn’t do it at my desk! I was too distracted by “real work” and couldn’t focus. I actually had to go to another environment to turn the e-learning course into the first draft of a book.
- That finding my voice for the book meant overcoming several inner demons related to the last time I wrote something substantial, my PhD dissertation.
- That I had to give myself permission to write the first draft as if no one else would ever read it. Until I made that discovery, I edited almost everything I wrote or stared at a blank page.
- That I cannot write in dribs and drabs as recommended by lots of people. I could not get up early and write a few hours a day. I needed to delve into the book and make it my sole focus for a period of time.
- And the most challenging discovery of all … I had to say no to paid work. I set aside weeks in my calendar and then would get calls to do work and would take the work. The hardest thing I have ever done is prioritize the book. I had to tell myself that writing a book was as important as my “real work” and actually invest time and money (as I went away to The Haven on Gabriola Island, a great place to write by the way.) I realized that saying no was an absolutely critical part of getting this book written, and while this was the biggest no, there were others.
And so, whatever your dream might be, I encourage you to find a few folks who will continue to ask “What would it take to say yes to ….?”
Oh and I almost forgot … the book is called How to Forgive your Boss and should be published this fall. Contact me or watch this space for how you can get your copy!