Life has a knack for humbling you. A certain person who will go unnamed (mostly because his name makes me want to barf) might not experience the humility gained in a life well lived, but the rest of us know what it means to think, “oh yeah, I got this,” only to smack, cartoon style, into an unnoticed wall.
I had a moment like that recently when I thought I had created something awesome at work, only to hear that it actually stunk. I sound glib, but it was one of those slow-motion moments where its beauty made me so grateful. When someone who you love and respect points out your flaws, it is a wonderful opportunity to take a look in the mirror and decide to improve.
Determined to do a better job next time, I pulled out all the stops. The criticism was with my fundraising writing; a thing I tend to think I do pretty well. Don’t worry, I write very differently at work than on my blog.
So, I decided to enlist my yoga training to turn this thing around. I thought I’d share some of my best strategies, in case you find yourself in a situation where you too need to up your game.
- “Environment is stronger than will.” That’s a Yogananda quote that we all should chew on for a while. Although I was not dealing with an issue of willpower, I certainly needed to create an environment that would support inspired, attuned writing. So, I decided to sit at Swami Kriyananda’s desk to write my next 8 fundraising letters this week. It’s been awesome. You may not have access to the desk of a saint (one of the zillion advantages to living in Ananda), but you could perhaps find an uplifting space outside or in some breathtaking library, like the one at the UW campus I visited a few weeks ago.
- Meditate before teaching. This is from Swami and Master (Yogananda) and it’s priceless. I apply it to writing too – can’t go wrong with that one!
- Visualize who you are writing to. This was something Swami counseled often when he spoke about his own writing. He wrote 150 books, so I would take his advice if I were you. I wrote this series of letters to specific people I know. It was a sweet exercise. I feel closer to the people I wrote to and I know the letters came out much more genuine…because, well, they are!