I thought it took me three years to write my new book, Rhythm - How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth, until I searched for and found Chris Elder's email... Then, I realized that it took me more like six years! Chris sent me some positive and critical feedback five years ago on my first book, Execute Without Drama. I thanked him and promised him a complimentary copy of the updated version of Execute Without Drama that I was working on.
Dang.... That was six years ago. Writing this book has been a lot of fun. A lot of pain too! I never thought it would take so long to write this book.
I started with the goal of rewriting or updating Execute Without Drama. I wanted to take the experience and practical patterns gleaned from working with many companies on leading indicator KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and share them in a practical way that would allow many more companies to use leading indicators to predict, prepare and develop solutions that would help them solve problems. Using leading indicators can help you to overcome challenges and obstacles as well as capture opportunities.
So I started my journey more than six years ago. Execute Without Drama was a booklet of 36 pages written in 2006. My goal was to provide case studies and some "how to" tools. Along the way, I realized that our clients were successful not just because of a few leading indicators, but because they had a rhythm to help them think, plan, and do the work. They were able to predict, prepare, and do. This rhythm helped them avoid getting blindsided by problems. Then I came to the realization three years ago that my update of Execute Without Drama was becoming like Frankenstein, and I realized that I had to write it from scratch as a new book, and I started working on Rhythm the book.
Here are some lessons I learned by writing this book:
Authors learn the most.
I found that it is true, that the more you give, the more you receive as well. I thought my content and methods were well articulated until I starting writing this book. My team and I really got better at our craft because of this project. Writing a book forces you to make your ideas clearer and more understandable. No matter how good and clear your processes and ideas are, they will get further refined when you put it down on paper for a larger audience. I hope you enjoy my book, and I thank you for the journey of writing for you. I definitely learned the most!
Record it if you have writers block.
I found it very difficult to write. My ideas seemed so clear until I sat down in front on my Mac or iPad to write. Once I sat down, my mind went blank. I started recording my presentations and working with an editor to help me get the ideas out and written on the page.
Just start! It's easier to edit than create.
Instead of trying to write it perfectly from an outline, just start, pour out your thoughts, then form it into a coherent outline. This is what the experts at Greenleaf taught me, and it helped me get going. Don't be afraid to change your outline. Mine changed so many times in the last three years that the original is totally unrecognizable!
Don't get stuck on the title.
I spent a lot of time worried about the title. The final title only came during the last rewrite. Oh, and yes... I wrote this book four times! Use the title to really think about what you want to share. Make it perfect later before you ship the book.
Work with a team.
In my acknowledgements, I thanked our team. The team helped me birth the book. I mean... It's just a book. How much work can there be? Like a lot! If I did not work with a great team, I think it would have taken even longer to get this book out.
Start with a question.
I learned this listening to Jim Collins share about how he worked for two decades on the question of what makes a company great. The right question will lead you to the right answers, and it will help you choose what to keep in the book and what to prune.