Success Leaves Clues

Results, not Excuses

One of my business mentors recently said, “Ask questions, then listen to the people who have actually done it. Success leaves clues.” I really liked this and I think, at its core, this is what I enjoy about being a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG).

There are authors at all different levels of their journey in the group, and the wonderful thing about all of them is that they are willing to share what they have learned. If I’m stumped with a problem, I can always ask my fellow GLVWG members. Someone always seems to have experienced a similar issue, and I always learn something useful from the responses.

Often, my biggest concern is asking a question that might seem foolish, but if I have, I’ve never been made to feel that way. Our members are always supportive of our efforts, and everyone seems to be aware that what is obvious to one of us might not be so for others.

As much as I appreciate the support of others, I realize that the next step is up to me. Simply listening to advice won’t make me a better writer, or help me manage my time better, or magically make sure I hit all my deadlines.  I have to be willing to act on that advice.

That’s probably true for all of us.

I try to follow a pretty basic formula when it comes to embracing new ideas.

  1. Ask focused questions.

  2. Listen to the answers with an open mind. I try to avoid dismissing anything out of hand. Even if I tried it before without success, I’m open to looking at it again. Maybe the problem was in my implementation and not the actual plan.

  3. Test the options.  Just because something worked really well for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work as well for me.

  4. Keep what works well for me.  File what doesn’t. If something doesn’t work today, it might work later when my situation changes, or it might work for someone else.

  5. Share what I’ve learned with others.  It’s amazing how explaining an idea to others solidifies it in my own mind.

Each year I attend the Write Stuff Writers Conference in Bethlehem PA.  It’s a great opportunity to learn something new.  After every conference I look at my notes and find those three or four things  that I can put to the test.  I’m looking forward to seeing what I pick up this year.



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