Lean-in Moments

by Mark Levy

A few months ago, the publisher of my book, “Accidental Genius,” asked if I’d like to revise my ten-year-old work. I figured revising it would be easy. The book, after all, already existed. Reworking it would be like cheating off myself. I said sure.

They emailed me the original manuscript, and let me have at it. I opened the file, clicked out after three minutes, and didn’t open it again for weeks. Why? In scanning the text, some questions hit me:

What if my skills have deteriorated, and I was a better writer then than I am now? What if I’ve been fooling myself all these years, and the book wasn’t as good as I remembered? What if I couldn’t think up enough new material to warrant a revised edition? What if the book comes apart in my hands while I’m revising it, and I make it worse than when I began?

I didn’t have answers nor the mettle to return to the manuscript to hunt for them. Instead, I moved the project forward through the best way I knew how: through freewriting.

“Accidental Genius” is a book about freewriting so, as you can imagine, I’ll be writing about the technique at length in future posts. For now, though, I want to mention what my earliest freewriting sessions centered around: images of unusual client interest, concentration, and surprise.

What I call “lean-in moments.”

Through my writing, I tried conjuring up every scene I could think of where a client leaned forward in their chair, because what they heard me saying intrigued, startled, or delighted them.

  • What had I told them?
  • What had I asked them to do?
  • What insights did they have?
  • How did they build on what I said in a way that excited them?

You could say I was looking at my consulting past for moments of intense client reaction and emotion. I figured these moments might lead me to stories and ideas for the book. They did. In the forthcoming edition of “Accidental Genius” you’ll find these moments seeded throughout.

Thinking about your own lean-in moments is a great way to develop books, posts, talking points, speeches, products, and services for your business. The key?

Don’t think about your material first. Instead, think about your clients. See them in your mind’s eye. Hear their voices on the phone.

They experienced surprising moments that made them laugh, clap, or focus on what you were saying with an almost supernatural intensity.

What did you say? What did you do?

Start from there.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }


Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Christian, iwspo.net


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