A Personal Search for Writing Success

Most want to be successful at something. We seek to find the niche in which we create the happiness that can only come from doing what we love to do. Permit me to share a personal chronology of events that have shaped my life and career as a writer—a most unlikely destination given my lowly beginnings. I share this story to illustrate that improvement of any skill only occurs with practice. Take time to identify a key skill you wish to improve and use the template described below to create your own path. You can do it. But it will only occur if you take the first step!

My Story:  When I was Junior in High School, my English teacher gave us a writing project. As she returned my paper, she told the class my paper was one of the worst she had ever read. It was just very hard to hear the message during class time. My disinterest in writing certainly contributed to the quality of the outcome. However, that comment stung and really worked on my confidence as a writer for many years. But in the end, I must admit she was right and my writing skills needed much improvement.

The Strategy:  Aristotle said, “If you want to learn to play a flute, you must play the flute.” Using that logic, I decided if I wanted to learn to write, I needed to write. I persuaded the editor of our local newspaper to let me write a weekly column. Over time, I expanded the topics to a variety of subjects to broaden the interest of readers and to challenge my writing skills a bit more. It was a meager beginning, but forcing myself to write was actually helping me write better.

Another strategy that enhanced my writing ability was to increase my reading habit. In the 1970’s, my love of reading ignited to a passionate level. I read every book I could find about success principles, leadership, and management topics. I suspect this passion was really the catalyst for my now being so passionate about writing and speaking on those topics today. The final piece of the strategy fell in place when I began speaking professionally. Having to craft a message for my audiences made me think more deeply about the power and impact of my words. And that approach was a direct help in crafting words on paper.

My current writings are focused to expand the universe of effective leadership on an individual as well as an organizational level. I want people to look deeply at their potential and to help them master the art of leading themselves and others. And, the thought of writing information that can make a difference in the life of my readers is an awesome, yet humbling responsibility I take very seriously.

The Wall:  The challenge remains to be disciplined enough to actually write. The inspiration and energy, in spite of a passion to write, can be inconsistent thus productivity becomes inconsistent. For those wishing to write, be aware of this wall of resistance. I’ve learned to climb over the wall by scheduling specific times to write. Even if I only produce a few sentences, it’s a good day. So remember, if you want to write, you must engage in the act of writing.

My MentorsI can remember hearing the words of Earl Nightingale at a very early age. I admired his ability to tightly craft a message with impactful words. Years later, someone gave me a copy of the classic self-help book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. This book really started me thinking about how to create more success in my life. Another author, Og Mandino, through his books and writings in Successmagazine, added to this desire to improve. I had the good fortune to actually meet and have a conversation with both Og and Earl. What a thrill! Today, one of my favorite authors is John Maxwell. I’d love to meet him and share a bit of conversation. Through books, one can re-shape their mind and improve themselves. It’s what happened to me and what I hope happens every time someone reads my words.

The Ultimate Writing Project:  The thought of writing a book seemed as daunting a task as climbing Mt. Everest. We think about it but rarely take the first step to climb the mountain. In July 1995, I attended a session with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of the hugely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul best sellers. Their words gave me the breakthrough idea on how to structure my book. I set a goal to complete it by December 31. I beat the goal by one day. But the task wasn’t complete until my writings were reviewed by a good editor. Louise McLaughlin was recommended and greatly helped me structure sentences, write stories, and craft my words in a more stimulating and effective way. She was brutally honest, something one needs the review of their writings, and offered comments and pushed me to improve the quality of my message. In the end, the struggle paid off. My first book, Searching for Success sold well, helped me build my speaking career, and is now helping people in seven foreign countries. In 2014, I updated the original version with new information and now have it available in print and digital format.

My second book, Journeying on Holy Ground—Christian Strategies to Reach Your Personal, Professional and Spiritual Destiny, is a “Life Manual” for setting priorities. And, one of the highlight moments in the creative process of writing this book was to hear Louise, who also edited this book, comment that my writing had really improved since I wrote the first book.

Since writing my first column, I’ve written hundreds of articles and am currently in the final states of my third book, Leadership Solutions that Improve Performance. I will continue writing as many books and articles as life allows me to write. The passion to share a meaningful message drives me every day. Over forty-five years ago, I forced myself to write because that was the only way I could improve my skills. It’s worked for me and it will work for you if you just WRITE!

Now if only my English teacher were still alive!

PS: Use these steps in your personal quest for success: (1) Identify an area of your life that you need to improve (2) Develop a strategy (3) ID obstacles and create plans to overcome them (4) Find mentors to help along the way and to stimulate your internal motivation (5) Spend time in research (6) Jump in and take action. Be ready to suffer disappointments but don’t let anything stop you. (7) Stay humble and appreciative you’ve achieved your goal (8) Start dreaming again, only this time, make it bigger!

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