When I was in business school, there was a clear theme in all the leadership classes –develop a great team. It was presented in different ways, different contexts, for different purposes, but ultimately, it boiled down to this: great leaders cultivate great teams.
I drank the kool aid and am a staunch believer that leadership means understanding who you need, in what roles, to achieve success.
Yet, also while in business school, I started writing my first novel, Circumstance & Destiny, with no team at all. It was a yin/yang thing – Writing was yin, Business was yang (or vice versa.) I approached writing as a completely solitary activity. I wrote, I edited, I wrote some more. I self-published, and while I paid a talented cover designer and skilled line editor, I wrote it all myself. No team.
What was I thinking?
Needless to say, C&D has not been a huge success.
In the past couple of years, since dipping my toe in the writing waters, I have begun reading acknowledgments of the books I read. I am struck by the hordes of people that are thanked, and quite frankly, were integral parts of getting that book on the shelves. In Roomies, popular writing duo Christina Lauren thanked no less than 18 people (I counted).
I was reminded of the value of a team yesterday, after I met with my new critique partners. They gracefully and candidly poked holes in my latest novel –a novel I would have published, holes and all, next week, if I hadn’t gotten such great input. Yikes! Now I am reviewing the plot, writing character profiles, and tweaking, tweaking, tweaking. I feel like I survived a near miss. Thank you, ladies. I am grateful to have such talented teammates.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa, which sums it up.
“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”
Great point. Often as an “artist” we think we have to do it all. Come up with the idea, nurture it, execute it, and put it out there. Getting an outsiders view on the idea can save us lots of time and wasted effort and teach us. I’ve found it’s so much better to give up a little of that control, brainstorm with others and lets their questions and ideas add to your own. Plotting sessions with friends on writing retreats have been awesome!
Pulling out my new plotting notecards as we speak…