Full disclosure: I’ve started and stopped about 5 different posts today.
I come up with a title, write a sentence or two, and then stare at the computer. Or my phone. Or the TV (Chopped is on, people!). It sucks. It’s frustrating. I hate it.
Rather than fight through and try to write a post that refuses to be written, I hit “save draft,” open a new window, and start writing a new post.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I take this approach because forcing words down on the page results in a crappy product. Stephen King once said that you should first write for yourself, then worry about the audience. He also says that you need stick to your own style because that’s the only way you’ll have truthiness – and I think he’s right. I have to write in a way that feels true to my voice and my weird perspective on things or else the story and meaning falls flat.
And so I keep changing my approach, trying on different topics to see if one “fits” better today so I can write the whole darn thing.
Writer’s block in leadership is sort of like this, but instead of trying to write a post that just won’t be written, you end up unable to lead – saying the same things over and over again to your employees the exact same way and then end up surprised that they STILL aren’t changing their behavior.
You can break your “leader’s block” by following Stephen King’s advice. Rather than trying to go “by the book” and follow someone else’s leadership model or process to the letter, you need to first lead for yourself…then worry about your employees. Find your own voice and perspective – and the employees will respond.
- Why am I a leader? Do I like being a leader?
- Assuming I DO like being a leader, what do I like about it?
- What do I think a leader’s job IS? Am I doing that job?
- What are some aspects of other leaders I admire? How can I incorporate it into my personal style?
None of these questions is a cure for leader’s block on its own. It’s the equivalent of practicing your writing until your own perspective shines through. Leaders grow through experience, through trial and error. You owe it to yourself – and your employees – to break through your block and find your voice. Keep trying; keep leading; keep exploring.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. – Stephen King