Writing and Leadership
A couple of weeks ago in a meeting with Tim Sanders, (@SandersSays) Carol Roth (@CarolJSRoth) and Mark Carter (@MJCarter), Tim brought up a writer I hadn’t thought about in the longest while — Hunter S. Thompson, the King of Gonzo Journalism.
Hunter S Thompson has been haunting me since.
In 2005, I wrote about the night my husband and I watch a television rerun of an interview with Hunter S. Thompson. . . .
It doesnât happen often, but it does happen. That someone says something so profound. So true. That itâs your own truth. Even though youâve never put the words together, youâve known their meaning deeply for what seems all of your life. I canât tell you anything about the interview with Mr. Thompson, except one question and his answer.
The interviewer, who sat off camera, asked the reporter/writer which he thought was easier — writing or researching?Thompson, sitting on the back porch in what was his work area and speaking in a writerâs frugality with words, said without hesitation, âResearching is much easier, because no one can help you write.â
Iâve spent years working with young writers. I could coach them. I could say what wasnât working. I could make suggestions on how to approach the problem. But at the end of the day, I couldnât help them write. I had to stand back and watch them struggle.
A writer is a batter standing at home plate waiting for the pitch, a tennis player waiting for serve to come over the net. A coach can watch and report, but the coach canât hit the ball. Comments marked in whatever color I choose are meaningless if a writer canât interpret or internalize them. I can suggest technique, but I canât teach heart. I canât fix the writing. If I do, I become the writer.
It takes heart, soul, intuition, understanding, and flexibility to be a writer. It takes practice, persistence, and patience. It takes trust. It takes an artistic ability to blend structure with expression in the way a composer brings notes together to move people to feeling. It takes tears. Writing is hearing the music of the language and the nuance of how words come together to make meaning. Writing is talent teamed with trial and error. Writing is more than putting words on paper. It is experience and problem solving. It takes life to make a writer.
I wonder at how we have the same experience with so many things, yet we reach a faulty conclusion about writing. We drew in school, yet few of us say we are artists. We played ball, yet few of us say we are athletes. We did mathematics, yet few of us say we are mathematicians. Still so many of us say we are writers.
Itâs no wonder that I am so aware of my differences.
I know that no one can help me write.
No one else can be the writer I am.
As I sit here today, reflecting on this, I realize that precisely same is true of leadership.
It takes heart, soul, intuition, understanding, and flexibility to be a leader. It takes practice, persistence, and patience. It takes takes trust. It takes an artistic ability to blend competence with compassion in the way a composer brings notes together to move people to feeling. It takes years.
Leadership is hearing the music of work that reaches into people’s hearts and the nuance of work that reaches out to make meaning in the world. Leadership is talent teamed with trial and error. Leadership is more than pulling people together. It is experience and problem solving. It takes life to make a leader.
I keep thinking that Hunter S. Thompson were asked which he thought was easier learning the tools or leading the team, he might have said,
âLearning the tools is much easier, because no one can help you lead.â
Do you see what that means?
No one else can be the leader you can be.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!