According to statistics, 80% of people believe they “have a book in them.” Meaning—they believe their unique life experiences are interesting enough to write a book. Obviously, the follow-through on that statistic is nowhere near that high, but shows a remarkable trend of how people view themselves nonetheless.
The question I would ask is: How many people have an opportunity to share their unique life experiences? What makes a publisher want to tell your story? I think it’s somewhere between what you’ve done and who you know—which is arguably how everything works. However, if you do get the opportunity, you don’t necessarily have to write the entire story. My advice is: Contribute first and take it from there.
Through a contact last October, I was contacted by publisher Jossey-Bass and asked if I would contribute a story about leadership. I jumped at the opportunity and began formulating what I believe is a common problem for most young leaders: Simply getting started. Moreover, there is a common misconception that a person must be in a position of rank or formal authority in order to be a leader. This is entirely not true.
I decided to use an experience at the Air Force Academy involving a core engineering class since the book would focus on “student leadership.”
“The requirements were vague, and all the work had to be completed by the group members alone, with no outside assistance. I decided to step up and make some suggestions, even though I didn’t understand the technical scope of the project.”
“When I first thought about leadership, I imagined a truly dynamic individual who gains respect through actions over time. But in this situation, the professor had not assigned a group leader, and the students didn’t have enough time in their daily schedules to meet on a regular basis and allow a leader to emerge. The group was waiting for someone to lead, so I decided to take the challenge.”
The book, called The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders is available in stores or online.