Just something I am thinking about and trying to process through writing…
One of the hardest things I have embarked on in the last little while is trying to write a book. I have been working on it (I know this is going to sound horrible) for the last couple of years, yet have not been able to just finish it. The amount of content I have written on this blog in the past five years (nearly 1000 posts) has been huge, but writing a book is not only a different process, but also a different product. If you disagree or want to challenge something in this blog post, your shared point of view might change mine, and the next blog post might be a reflection of that. What I think now, might be different than what I think in five years. A book though, has a certain amount of permanence to it. I think it is totally understandable on challenging a book and having the author rethink their position, yet you might feel something totally different after publishing, but your old viewpoint is still seemingly engraved on those pages. It is almost the modern day equivalent of being written in stone. A blog seems like a formative assessment, and a book seems summative; there seems to be a certain finality to it.
That is one thing that I am struggling with.
The other is the effort and time you would need to put into it, and the mere moments it would take to criticize it online. Going through the process has changed the way I read Amazon reviews. I cringe at a bad review and think, if something I would publish would actually be on that site, would I even look? It is something that would haunt your dreams, just like the one negative comment out of a 100 on a session will be the one you focus on? I think of this not only in writing a book, but any type of music or art that one pours their soul into, and it can be ripped apart in moments. It is daunting. I am not saying that we shouldn’t challenge the thoughts in a book (I have done this myself), but just thinking about how we do it.
So here is what I like about the process….actually going through the struggle that I have described above.
I am really trying to focus and finish a first copy sooner than later, and hammer through it to have it ready to go by a certain timeline. I need to have that timeline in my head, or I will continue to push it off. But the above things that I struggle with, put me back into a place of discomfort, and lead me to become more empathetic to understanding that others struggle with the things that I now feel are second nature.
I remember working with a teacher who was so reluctant about using Twitter, and then they finally had the courage to join and try, and it was daunting to them. On their very first tweet, they asked for help, and other than my resharing of it, the first response was a sarcastic comment on the quality of the question. I really believe the person had no intent of criticizing the person and it was just their humour, but I saw the worst case scenario in her mind come to life and that was the end of the process for her. She had no idea who the person was so it was hard for her to understand the comment. I am not sure if they continued on with Twitter, but sometimes when that first “jump” becomes as scary in reality as it was in your head, it is tough to go again.
At the beginning of the year, I decided that my “word” to define my year was going to be empathetic, and it has stuck with me every single day. I think about the person with their first tweet as well as the person with the thousandth. On any day, a response without that approach could be the one that pushes a person to lose confidence in their voice. The recent #semicolonEDU reminded me of not only how many people go through things that I never know, but how courageous so many people are to put themselves out there, whether it is online, or even showing up to work every day.
This is not only with social media, but even things like a staff meeting. I have seen people finally get the courage to speak, but then watch a room that has no one listening. It is sometimes not even in what we say, but in what we do or not do, that can make an impact. Will they feel the confidence to share again, or will that be the last time for a long time? I am guilty of this myself as I know that I can easily become distracted or lost in something, so I am trying to get better at being in the moment. And don’t blame mobile devices…I was easily distracted LONG before they became the norm in our society. I am trying to get better.
I think that putting yourself in spaces where you struggle not only helps you to grow your mind, but sometimes grow your heart. Remembering what it is like to struggle, I mean really struggle, is something that will remind you how hard it is for you and others to put themselves in place of vulnerability. This is not to say that we shouldn’t challenge, but thinking about when we challenge, and how we do it. I have said it over and over again, that learning is relational. An effective coach is not one that treats every player the same, but treats every player as an individual, and knows when to push and when to pull, and builds upon the unique strengths of each to bring a team together. How one is treated when they struggle and lack confidence, is often remembered on the path to success.
If we followed the advice “do one thing everyday that scares you”, we would not only grow, but we would also remember how hard it is for others to do the exact same.