Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.
So publishing is an industry where schedules and deadlines are constantly changing. "We'll have that to you by next week" frequently means "three weeks from now". Books get bumped. Things get pushed back. Something that you thought you would know about by summer, you won't know until December. I've been pretty lucky in that things with my book seem to be on pace with happening when they're supposed to happen, but I certainly am not hanging my hat on that. This is the reality of our industry. And believe me, working on both sides of the desk, I know there are many, many reasons that things don't happen as planned or at all. There are a lot of people involved and honestly, there are many times when you are ready, willing & able to move mountains but certain things are simply out of your control.
This constant state of flux was and sometimes still is very hard to accept. But accept it I must. I'm not angry with the publishing world because "stuff" happens. Believe me, I've had to push back deadlines with my authors because something out of my control happened. I get it probably more than most. I have become sorta Zen about it and just keep going. However, for me, I've learned a really valuable lesson in navigating this system. One that I've tried to integrate into my own life.
The lesson: Be Your Word.
Experiencing the changing nature of the publishing world has made me realize the value of a verbal commitment in my non-publishing life. I realize that when I say something and I follow through on it, I've created a foundation for trust. I've given my friends and family a reason to believe in me. I also realize that I can and should only make that commitment for myself when I'm responsible for the outcome. I am trying not to answer for my husband without discussing it with him. My commitment isn't automatically our commitment.
And so, since the beginning of the year, I have worked really hard at being my word. But more than that, I've had to work really hard at not committing to something that I'm not going to be able to do. I, like many, want to say "yes" to everything. I want to help everyone out. I want to join everything, be part of a community. Saying "no" is extremely difficult for me. But what happens is that I overcommit, get overwhelmed, and then cancel everything. So not only am I letting one person down, I'm letting down everyone I've made commitments to.
So now, I say "yes" to fewer things, but when I do, it means something. And I am also more willing to say, "I don't know, I'll try" instead of an immediate "yes". Some days, this doesn't work out so well. I still overcommit. I still want to do all the things and consequently end up doing none of them. But I'm more aware of it and try harder not to do that.
Be Your Word in the areas of your life you can control. That, to me, is radical kindness.
Now go pop on over to some of the other folks in the Kindness Project and see what they're up to: