I’m a wimp.
Seriously. Saying “no” is among the hardest things I’ll ever do in my life. I genuinely enjoy being of service to people, bending in ways to accommodate them. Saying yes and doing whatever I can to make others happy is kind of my love-language. That sounds really wonderful, right? Old, reliable Chelsea. She’ll take care of it.
Then, I started working at RTC, which is not a job for wimps. Every single day we all put our blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes literally) into telling stories that change the world. We all have very specific skill sets, gifts, and talents that we bring to the table and together—well, we’re a force to be reckoned with. When we’re all together, physically, the power is even greater, so I came home from our workation renewed, invigorated, and most importantly COURAGEOUS. And then I got back into the little safety net of my house and resumed wimpy-ness as usual.
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David’s manuscript was almost complete, save for the final section, which neither of us were happy with. When he brought it to my (and Katie’s) attention that he was struggling with it, he used an interesting metaphor. He said that I had architected the first three sections, and now he felt like I was leaving it to him to build the fourth, but without the blueprint. That stung. It stung because my writer’s gut told me that it wasn’t where it needed to me, in neither depth nor breadth. That I had ignored my little nagging voice telling me that the first three sections had such symmetry and purpose that this fourth part was lacking. I included stories that David told me on our interview calls that were superfluous, and not where the final manuscript had led us. I didn’t listen to my gut. I wimped out and gave David what he “wanted” at the expense of his story, and of my word.
Being tough doesn’t mean being rude, or obnoxious. It means having the bravery to speak up when necessary, having the trust in yourself to know that you have the power to make the right call, or at least communicate your desires. It’s having the confidence that you are the editor—the expert on the book, and that’s why clients hire us. While that’s something I will probably continue to grapple with indefinitely; this week I’ve certainly learned that I do have value, but it’s worthless if it’s not exercised. My seat at the table is well-earned, and by using my talents and living in that courage, clients will benefit more from my “No’” than my blind “sure.”