Last week author and coach Michael Port had a webinar on writing a first book. At the beginning he asked everyone to type ‘Hi’, and share a bit about themselves. Using the webinar text-box I wrote: “My first book The Excellence Habit was named best motivational book of 2016”. “Great!“ - responded Michael. “By who?”
By the time I typed New Apple Literary, and Readers’ Choice … , Michael had moved on to interact with other guests. At that moment I realized my marketing skills could still use improvement.
A year ago The Excellence Habit hit Amazon. The experience felt like a roller-coaster. There were times when I would check for new reviews literally a hundred times a day. To get some traction and exchange reviews with other authors I worked the Facebook groups and Twitter. Amazon allowed me 5 free days, so I sent out paid press-releases to advertise those. The first 5-star review was from a friend. Then a few days later I had a couple of 5-star reviews from strangers. Readers said nice things about my book. It was an unusual feeling. A pride and happiness that I have made a stranger’s life better.
I was lucky to have more than forty 5-star reviews before the first 4-star one showed up. That was emotional too. The Excellence Habit was a success also in terms of velocity of sales. The book hit the # 1 best-seller status in at least 3 different weeks. My Facebook and Twitter following exploded. Fans started signing up for my really random blog posts.
In May, The Excellence Habit was named Best Motivational book for 2016 by Next Generation Indie Book Awards. The awards ceremony was in Chicago’s Newberry Library. It was on the local news. A Bulgarian TV channel, stationed in Chicago, broadcast the event, interviewed me, and then had an extensive live segment in my old country. The most surprising question I got was “Why”. Why did I write a book? Why did I choose to write about excellence? Why this, why that? My answer evolved. At one stage my answer was this:
Because doing the right thing is very important to me. I believe in it. I believe we all would be better off if we paid attention to doing the right thing. For me the “right thing” is not a “moral imperative”, or “moral superiority”. The right thing as in the most effective way to live my life, do my work, relate with my family, friends and co-workers. Something like an excellence habit.
Doing the right thing deeply satisfies me and fills my life with meaning. Ever since my high-school years I had this awareness. As a teen, I knew deep inside what the right thing was. Being honest. With myself and others. Taking care of others and of myself. Approaching life situations with calm, positivity, confidence, and love. Working to improve. Knowing that any problem can be solved when approached the right way. Controlling my emotions and my actions.
When I can be my at my best, then I can be of most value to those around me. And to humanity, and to the planet. Humanity and the planet, because I believe we are one. I believe the right thing is to understand, and accept that we are one. And to act accordingly. We own the responsibility for our intentions and our actions. In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies - Karl Popper said it beautifully:
“[Our second tendency] is based upon our fear of admitting to ourselves that the responsibility for our ethical decisions is entirely ours and cannot be shifted to anybody else; neither to God, nor to nature, nor to society, nor to history. All these ethical theories attempt to find somebody, or perhaps some argument, to take the burden from us. But we cannot shirk this responsibility. Whatever authority we may accept, it is we who accept it. We only deceive ourselves if we do not realize this simple point.”
Doing the right thing is also kind of binary: Every choice I make is either the best one, or a compromise. “The best one” not as in “perfect”. The best one as in - the one that “feels”, and “computes” most right for that given moment. Sometimes the best one is clear and sometimes it’s ambiguous. Sometimes I make a mistake. Then the right thing is - accept it, learn, and move on. Say sorry if I need to. Try to avoid repeating the mistake as it is embarrassing.
At the end of Michael Port’s webinar we can ask questions. I type: “How do you write your second book?” Michael laughs, then says: “This is the webinar on how to write the first one!”
You can watch this event and follow Michael on his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/michaelport