I am not king of my own domain anymore. For 22 years I’ve had a thriving paralegal business. Every idea that I had was great because well…who was around to tell me it wasn’t? The business is not thriving anymore. It’s alive but on life support.
Our God of goodness, mercy and grace blessed me with a terrific job last October that supplements my income. I am not king of this company. We have a great king, but I am part of a team now. A team that is passionate about our product and service. A team that will not allow less than great ideas to move forward. A team that has made our company the leader in our industry. What this means is that I am discovering that all my ideas are not great. When I conceive them, process them, develop them and present them, I think that they are outstanding. Then I get feedback. I discover that my baby is not beautiful.
My manager is gracious but tenacious. She is obsessed in a kind way over every word, every comma, and every phrase that we communicate to our prospects and customers. The gracious part is that she is able to do this critiquing in a way that doesn’t offend. It may still hurt, but I know it’s not personal. It’s not about me at all. It’s about the pursuit of excellence. She will not settle for good when great is our goal. So she cleans up my baby and dresses her in nicer clothes and she always welcomes my debate. In the end my baby is much prettier than when I dropped her on the delivery table.
I still don’t love criticism and as painful as it can be, she has made me a better employee, better thinker and better writer. Most importantly, this new experience has done two great things for me. One, it has humbled me to realize that I am not always right. Other people can be right, also and their “rightness”, even about my own creation, can help me and my babies if I will listen; leading me to point number 2. I have become a better listener, because I’ve had to listen. Remember, I’m not the king. But in this process of acquiring (or at least sharpening my listening skills; giving myself the benefit of the doubt in that I ever had any at all) I am discovering that my wife, Sandra, is right and has been right for years about my writing.
I will listen now, honey. Are you still willing to help me?