Years ago, I worked with a man who was highly motivated to promote, not just because he wanted to eventually be chief of police, but because he believed that learning and growing was important and it should never stop. For him, studying leadership and pushing himself to be more and to do more was as important as breathing. At the time, I remember thinking he was a little crazy because I had no desire to promote. I had no problem working hard as an officer, but I never wanted the attention or the pressure of stripes on my sleeves or stars on my collar.
My friend accomplished his dream and became the chief of police for a medium sized city and he has done very well in that position. About the time he was promoting I was retiring. His thoughts on pushing yourself to learn and be more came back to me as I pondered life out of police harness. I never wanted to retire and sit, I’d always wanted to write books and when I retired I had the time to do just that. And when I leaned this direction, I found there was so much to learn. I’d been attending writer’s conferences when I could while I was working, now I could attend more, and hopefully learn all that I could about putting a good story together, selling my ideas, and becoming a part of an industry light years removed from police work.
Fast forward seven years. Now I have two published novels and a contract for three more. Have I arrived? Maybe in a sense, but as my friend always says, the learning never stops. Finishing a novel means preparing for the next one. I didn’t understand my friend’s drive when it was applied to something that didn’t really interest me, but I understand it completely now. There is so much to learn about writing a good book I know that I will never stop the search for more knowledge. Every book, every sentence, every word can be improved on.
For my friend, the pinnacle was police chief. For me, I think, I would like people to say, “that book was better than the last one.” As I look over the sites I have bookmarked, the magazines I read, and the conferences on the horizon, I know that to reach my goal, I will study, grow, and push myself and never forget that the learning never stops.