I remembered it was in March 2010 that I decided to write a book. It would be the definitive leadership guide for business owners, managers and students. I then declared my goal to my fellow participants in a week-long Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) seminar that taught us to plan and execute our life goals. In my mind’s eye, I could envision the finished book, and smell the paper scent as I flipped the pages. I felt good.
So, I rushed home to my wife to share my dreams with her. Being the practical person that she was, she started to roll her eyes. She was noticeably angry. I had been talking about abstract concepts such as achieving dreams and financial freedom all week after attending the course, and she couldn’t understand it.
She looked at me and screamed, “Mark! If you think it’s going to be easy writing a book, many people would have done it. And why would they read yours!” Incidentally, writing a book was one of the top three most popular goals in the world.
My face flushed with a strange warm feeling of embarrassment. Nobody knew me, so how would my book reach out to others. But a tiny voice in my head added, “Really? Nobody knew who Mitch Albom was either . . .”
I answered boldly, “Because I have what it takes to write a book on leadership.” After all, I had spent close to two decades honing my leadership and management skills in school, sports and in the military.
My wife looked at me and proceeded to fill the entire piece of paper she was holding, with what I thought were cartoon drawings of lips.
She added, “Then, don’t give me lip service. Just do it.”
I smiled. That was her sign of approval. I kissed her and told her I would never let her down.
The next day I planned the content page. I decided to push my writing capabilities so I decided to pen both fiction and non-fiction stories. It was tentatively called “What F are You?” since it revolved around discovering one’s leadership styles from four attributes, namely being “Firm, Fair, Friendly and Flexible”. I wrote a short story back in October 2009, but because of my consultancy work, I had to fly to Delhi and Hyderabad, India, monthly for two weeks. So, I never continued. However, this time was different. I had found my motivation which was to create a legacy for my baby Alyssa, and not to let my wife down with mere lip service.
For the next four months, I dedicated a fortnight to write each chapter, breaking down the chapters to bullet points and pushed myself to complete each point daily. When I was in Singapore, I would first rock my baby girl to sleep at night, and chat with my wife till she too fell asleep, then work would start. When I was in Delhi, I would work from my hotel room after I returned from the client’s office. At times I turned down my colleagues’ request for dinner, and their invitation to tour the sights of Delhi. I had a mission to complete.
When I wrote my fictional story, I had to get into character so that I could feel whatever I visualised. When I fleshed out the content on the characteristics of being a leader, I searched through my physical memory bank and on the internet. Information was literally at my fingertips, and I had to convert them into knowledge.
And there were distractions. World Cup Fever was around the corner, and it didn’t help that Delhi had the perfect timing to telecast these games live! But I typed on . . .
Essentially, I used an excel sheet to monitor my progress and after completing a chapter, I would mark it green and add “Completed”. When I went back to meet my NLP friends, we would share our updates on our goals. On7th July, I looked through my action plan excel sheet and realised that it was all green. Then, I realised with a sense of pride that I may have actually completed my manuscript. My wife was my first reviewer.
On 9th July, I sent my manuscript to my buddy Sean, via e-mail. Sean had by then published his book, “Winning the Money Game”, which was about his money experiences, and how he formulated a simple step-by-step game plan that was practical and powerful. Sean immediately called me and said, “Bro, let me forward your manuscript to my publisher, Armour Publishing.”
On 12th July, as I was boarding the plane to Delhi again, I looked at my phone to switch it off, but stopped in my tracks when I saw the mail icon flashing on my phone. I opened it and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the words, “Dear Mark, see review of your script. The reviewer felt it was quite good . . .”
Over the next two months, I would spend countless nights polishing the manuscript because the publisher said, “Take your time. Don’t get distracted with coming up with a best-seller. Just make sure it’s something that your grandchildren would be proud of when they read it.”
I badly wanted the book to be published in time for Alyssa’s first birthday in November, but there were some delays and it was only in mid December that the publisher told me that they would deliver the first 200 books I ordered to my house. The others would be distributed to the major bookstores.
I pressed on with marketing efforts as I went on air with Singapore’s 938FM Live, The Living Room on 13th December to share my leadership insights. My wife told me that when she heard my voice on air, she shed tears of joy.
*Hear the radio interview at http://chewmark.com/discover-your-leadership-style/radio/
I had achieved my goal.
Mark Chew is a business developer and leadership coach, specialising in leadership management and wealth management. He is the author of “Discover Your Leadership Style“, and may be contacted at http://chewmark.com .