Writing a book is quite a journey. A lot of twists and turns. And there are certainly a lot of ups and downs. The edit process is like iron sharpening iron. You just keep working your way forward one step at a time. Ultimately, you can see the end in sight … which, of course, is really the beginning. Many have asked me if I have a favorite part of writing a book. The answer is definitively … YES!
It may be the one section of the book that most readers will never read. In reading books, I’ve often skipped it myself. As a reader, you may not miss that much by skipping it. As an author, I think you miss everything by not writing it.
It isn’t a chapter by itself, but it does stand on it’s own. And by its very nature, it proves the author doesn’t stand alone. While the author’s name is inked on the cover, this particular section is the fabric of every page. The title of the section is not creative or unique. It’s often precisely the same in almost every book. Yet the story beneath the title is always unique.
It’s simply called Acknowledgements.
In the journey of writing Return On Integrity, the time to experience my favorite part finally arrived yesterday. I enjoyed the quiet time to reflect, not on what made this book possible, but rather on who made it possible. My first inclination was to go back to the early days of the rough drafts of a basic outline. Yet, in my reflection, I knew this book was different. I realized that Return On Integrity had been in the works long before I ever felt the call to write it.
If it was anything, it was the culmination of everything. A central theme expressed in Return on Integrity is that the journey to your core beckons you to dig. It actually demands you to dig deep. As I started to write the first paragraph of Acknowledgements, it didn’t demand that I do anything. It simply invited me into the experience of gratitude.
The deeper I dug, the more wonderful it seemed to be. For Acknowledgements isn’t about accomplishment. It’s simply about noticing what you’ve been given. Writing has its moments of feeling alone. Sometimes isolated. Acknowledgements reminds you that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it opens your eyes to just how crowded the journey has been.
Books haven’t always had this section. Some still don’t. I’m grateful for the first author who found the need, within themselves, to find delight in others … and in doing so, created Acknowledgements.
As I wrote the closing sentence, it reminded me how it serves the author well, even if it’s never read. It also made me realize that it’s a “section” that every leader needs to write. It’s not unusual for an executive team to be required to submit their annual goals. I wonder what it might look like if they were also required to submit an annual document titled, Acknowledgements. It may very well shift their focus from what they’ve accomplished … to what they’ve been given. For many, it could very well change how they lead.
Gratitude matters. The deeper the better.
Acknowledgements is a reminder that it’s not about you. Leadership never is. Come November, if you lead anyone, I would challenge you to find a time to write your own Acknowledgements narrative. It doesn’t have to be read by anyone … it just has to be fully acknowledged by you.
In fact, you might think of it as … the Thanksgiving of Leadership.