Lessons I Learned From Writing My First Book

1. We all know more than we think we know. This goes for business, goes for right and wrong, for excellence and the lack of it. We know it, even if we make a habit of ignoring it. 

When we were in high school, my best friend and I had a talk about our smoking habit and how bad it was. Very quickly we made the observation that people only get addicted to bad things. I still remember my friend's rhetorical questions: 

“Why doesn’t anyone get addicted to apples? Why don’t we wake up in the morning and crave an apple, instead of a cigarette?” His point was well taken. We get addicted to bad things, while we find it difficult, or boring to follow the good ones. Eating your veggies and going to bed on time is not only hard for my 11-year old daughter. It is often really hard for me too. 

All this is very well studied by psychologists. In his book What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite author David DiSalvo describes how the rewards center in our brains can easily be manipulated. One very interesting feature of this rewards center is that it is a bit like a power grid that can be tapped into, hacked, and even hijacked by external forces. When that happens, our rewards circuitry is used in the exact same way, only the rewards that are imprinted are not beneficial. When this imprinting of negative rewards overwhelms the brain rewards center, we see someone who is “addicted” to a substance or behavior.

It is the same in business. We know more than we think we know. Sometimes we just need this extra grain of confidence. Or we need the extra drop of pain - depending on how we get motivated. Or we are just addicted to one bad habit or another and we need to break it. Acknowledging that we know this is the first step in the right direction.  


2. "Nobody knows anything." Yes, you read that right, and yes - it looks like it contradicts #1 above. The full quote belongs to William Goldman in his book Adventures in the Screen Trade

“ Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.” This goes for the screen trade, for the writing craft, and for anything in business really. Uncertainty is practically guaranteed. It is the biggest source of anxiety. Especially for entrepreneurs and for business leaders. So how do we find the calm that we need in order to carry on? In the lonely hours of writing my book, my best answer was - you don’t. Because nobody knows anything - you become the source of what you need. Be it calm, happiness, inspiration, or grit. Digging deep, till you find what you need is the second step in the right direction.

One result from this is that original, new ideas are better off when presented in the company of existing ones. 


3. Better done than perfect.  Speed over perfection. We have to complete our work. We have to make it good. Then we need to move on. To paraphrase Albert Einstein - everything should be made as good as possible, but not more than that. 

Find The Excellence Habit here: http://amzn.to/1TQegWu