For a decade, my dream was to write a book. This year that dream came true. It took me about fourteen months to write, edit and publish the book. Many people asked me how I did it. The truth is, there is no magic bullet to writing a book. Like any meaningful goals that you accomplished this year, it took hard work and perseverance.
I learned a lot about leadership while working on the book. I have summarized these learnings into four key lessons. They are:
Lesson One: Choose courage over fear
Ten years ago, I stood in a very large bookstore and looked at the thousands of books on the shelves. Although I dreamed of writing a book, I walked out of that store feeling discouraged. My fear took over. Fear looked me in the eye and said to me, the world does not need another book. No one will read your book. If they do they may hate it. Fear stopped me from writing my book for nearly a decade.
Thankfully courage took over. With courage by my side I was able to let fear evaporate into thin air. With courage as my ally, fear dissipated. Courage taught me to do my job. Courage helped me to write my book without worrying if anyone would read it or even if they would like it. Courage helped me to realize that if just one person read my book and it helped, then I can wake up every morning knowing it was worth the effort.
Lesson Two: Choose finishing over perfectionism
Perfection is a killer. It kills ideas, projects and even relationships. In my opinion, it is impossible to be a writer and a perfectionist. A book can always be improved, edited or changed. But at some point, you need to say “I’m done” and send your book to print.
As a leader, you can likely relate to this sentiment. I’m sure that you have numerous projects, tasks or programs on the go. At some point, you have to press send, you have to say “I’m done and share your work with others. Yes, it is important to have high standards but don’t let perfectionism stand in your way. Know when you are finished and move on to your next great project.
Lesson Three: Choose ambition over competition
Competition is about winning. I’m sure that for a professional athlete winning is important. As a writer, competition is a sure way to put a book on hold. If I wanted to write a book that sold more copies than Elizabeth Gilbert’s best seller, Eat Pray Love, I never would have completed chapter one! Rather than being competitive, be ambitious. Ambition is about being your best self. It is about setting a goal and being committed to yourself to complete it.
For leaders, it is never about winning. It is certainly not about competing with the other department or your colleague down the hallway. It is about being ambitious. Set your goals. Work hard at achieving them. Be your best self. Create your best work. In turn you’ll inspire the people around you. That is leadership.
Lesson Four: Choose team over independence
This lesson is about sharing your journey. Whether you are writing a book, launching a new project or system or on-boarding a new client, you just can’t do it alone. In completing my book, there were over twenty people involved.
Asking for help as a leader is not a sign of weakness but a sign of trust and collaboration.
Every leader needs to put her/his hand up and say “I need help”. Then you go out there and find someone who can do the job way better then you can. That is how you build your team.