I read something over the weekend that laid out some good advice. The writer talked about how we learn from our kids. He wrote that he watched his son respond to some adversity in his life and in reflecting on the challenge, the writer learned that it was exactly what he needed to overcome his own challenges.
With only a few words, I could see the challenge in my mind. The scene played out in front of me and I could see first, the fear, and then the glee. “I can’t force people to change. I can’t control their actions or their thoughts. I can’t make them do what I want them to do. All I can do is keep pushing forward, stay on my own path, and not worry about anyone else.”
I looked up from the words on the screen and slowly sat back in my chair, realizing that I had written those words a year ago. I let the reality sink in to my thick skull. I had written the story, forgot about it, and then reread it later, realizing the wisdom of my own advice.
Now, if I could just follow the advice.
Oh my, what just happened?
Before I get into the advice, let me first say that I’ve written a ton over the years — news stories, press releases, marketing and sales pieces, executive speeches, letters to family and friends, memoirs, fictional stories, dedications, greetings, etc., etc. — and while I write one piece and move on, I still leave a part of myself in everything I write.
I’m not talking about some little hint or something that only I know, no, no, nothing like that. I leave my personality without even trying. It’s like the way some people strut when they walk or another person waves their hair or sneezes three times in a row when they sneeze. You could be in a crowded street or piazza and be able to pick them out of a crowd a half mile away. I have my own little calling cards and, after a few seconds reading, I can usually tell something that I’ve written without much problem. It usually jumps out at me in no time flat, the way I like em dashes to spell out and separate a topic or the length of my sentences and how I like a few long ones, followed by a short one to break the rhythm of the story.
Get my drift.
We all have our tells, so I was shocked when I saw my own byline.
Too hot to handle!
Now we get to the good part: the advice. Of course, I’m horrible at following other’s advice. Apparently, I’m even worse at following my own. I looked back at the story and realized that I had followed little of the advice that I picked up from son.
My son had good advice. I would have been wise to follow his lead. I tried, but soon fell back into my own devices of trying to control the situation and failing miserably.
Oh, brother, next time, I just won’t write it down. Now there’s one way around the problem!