Although it was almost 15 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had completed the original manuscript for my first book, Silent Alarm. As most any first-time author can testify … writing the manuscript is one thing, but shopping it for a publisher is another.
I had submitted the manuscript to several publishers with their long and required submission forms. One by one they submitted back to me short and unrequired “Dear John” rejection letters. While I had fully expected a number of those rejection letters, I wasn’t expecting the impact of the cumulative effect of receiving them.
The one I received on that cold, dreary winter Thursday afternoon in Chicago had a much greater impact than any of the others. The cumulating impact of resistance had started to take its toll. I put the letter on my desk and simply stared into the silence of my office. Simply quitting on the whole project never seemed more inviting. It wasn’t just about walking away from it … it was about taking a decisive conclusive step on this writing project.
I knew this next step was to delete the manuscript from my computer and just move-on.
There was a real feeling of empowerment and control as I turned to the delete key of my keyboard. But as distractions go, I looked at the screen first … a screen that had filled with a plethora of various emails as I had been sitting staring in the silence. I started deleting the numerous variety of advertisement emails until I noticed one email from a good friend whom I had sent a copy of the manuscript of Silent Alarm.
The subject line simply said, “Your manuscript.” The first sentence of his email caught me by surprise. “Where in world did you get the insight to write all of this?” In my state of rejection and resistance, I wasn’t sure I was actually understanding either the question nor the encouragement packed within those thirteen simple words. He went on to say that he had boarded a flight from Atlanta to fly home to the west coast while feeling like he was coming down with the flu. “For whatever reason, I had brought your manuscript and started reading it. Although feeling lousy, I couldn’t stop reading it.”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t a publisher!
But he was angel of encouragement at my moment of greatest resistance and rejection. More precisely, in the midst of my gravitational pull. It didn’t change the resistance, but it did fuel my resilience in the midst of it.
It has been said that so many people fail because they quit just one step short of a great success. I think the same could be said as we meet the gravitational pull of digging for our core values. In fact, the resistance can be a great friend that hones us and guides us as long as we keep putting the shovel back into the ground.
As awesome as it was, it would not prevent future encounters of resistance.
As I was in the midst of writing the manuscript for Return On Integrity, it seemed the gravitational pull within the writing process was endless. An increasing lack of clarity in how to express what seemed to be clear in my head but impossible to express on paper was a gravitational pull that added new meaning to writer’s block.
I was determined to push my way through this resistance. It was once again a cold dreary winter day in Chicagoland. I’d arrived early at the Morton Arboretum for a morning of planning this “push” for action. My friends, Al and Mary Jo were meeting me there for lunch. I was quite proud of my “push” plan and was looking forward to getting their feedback. And so I did. As always, they were angels of encouragement. But what happened next changed everything. Al simply said, “I think your missing piece is just saying YES!” I comprehended just enough of what he meant “to just keep showing up with my YES” to understand that YES would keep me moving deeper. And it did … and it still does.
Coming to YES in the midst of what seems to be resistance, allows you to embrace what is … whatever it is … as you continue to dig for the clarity of the core values within you. Knowing that you have persevered through a prior resistance can be of limited assurance as it only represents what was. Yet, your renewed YES allows you to keep digging into what is.
Gravitational pull is a gift. And your YES … after YES … is what you use to open it!
In the comments below, share what has pulled you through your own gravitational pull.