Finishing my book seemed impossible
(Life 168 - Season 1 Episode 4)
In the last chapter, Dwight was upset and resigned because he couldn't find a way to complete the 700-page book he'd already worked two years on.
Dwight-Next insisted on continuing to work on the book and get it published. Dwight-Now didn't want to tolerate the long, drawn-out, detailed process of editing the book and whatever else Dwight-Next might demand.
The general form of the new question that I had never consistently asked myself before was, "How can Dwight-Now enjoy the process of doing what Dwight-Next thinks needs doing in order to get the result that Dwight-Next wants?"
Or, for this problem, "How could Dwight-Now enjoy the process of editing this book and getting it published?"
“To ask the 'right' question is far more important than to receive the answer. The solution of a problem lies in the understanding of the problem; the answer is not outside the problem, it is in the problem.”
The answer didn't come right away
I was confident I had the "right" question, even though when I asked it, I didn't get a workable answer right away. But because I had some confidence in the question, I kept asking it, thinking about it, turning it over in my mind. For three weeks.
When the answer finally occurred to me, I was highly confident that it would work.
Internet advertisement: part-time job as a "book listener"
I placed an Internet ad on a Shanghai website for a book listener. I didn't have to offer to pay very much, just 10 RBM (about $1.50 USD) per hour. Some university students would have been happy to do it for free, just as a way to improve their oral English. I got more applicants than I needed.
The qualifications for their job
After a short qualifying interview in person, I would usually set an appointment with the applicant to work as my "book listener."
Unbeknownst to the applicant, in addition to a minimal level of oral English ability, I had some non-obvious job qualifiers.
Must be a woman...sorry, men.
Must be moderately attractive: I'm fairly easy to please in this department, given how attractive Chinese women are to me in general.
This is your job
Also, in the beginning, I lied to her about what I needed from her, "You're job, as I'm reading from my book and making changes, is to come up with suggestions of how I could make it more understandable or how the English could be improved."
She starts to feel guilty
Typically, after two days of working together with a new "listener," where I am having fun reading the essays out loud and make enhancements and corrections, she will have made no suggestions, which is understandable since she's not a native speaker and I'm dealing with subtle distinctions in English. She will say to me, "I'm so sorry I haven't made any suggestions. I'm feeling guilty."
She now knows I am a safe man, so I can tell her the truth
"You're helping a lot. Because you are an attractive young Chinese woman and you're listening to me as I read this out loud, you're making this editing process very enjoyable to me. Thank you! Otherwise, doing this would be unbearably boring to me."
She felt relaxed then. She was reassured that I was happy enough without her making any suggestions regarding my written English. Today, as I look back, I wish had thought to formally acknowledge in my book those several young Chinese women who ended up being instrumental in helping me finish my book!
Success and happiness for both my Now and my Next!
Dwight-Now loved the process of working on the book until it was successfully published in July of 2004. Dwight-Next felt satisfaction and pride in moving consistently ahead on a worthy project and getting the result that he intended.
Patricia's suffering was immense.
Four months prior her 33-year-old son killed himself.
As a life coach, how could I do anything more than just listen?
Healing from something like this is a job for professional grief counselors and it can take years
A friend introduced Patricia to me eleven months ago (as of February 2022). My friend thought I might be able to help. Patricia, 58, and I scheduled a telephone session together.
As Patricia shared her pain with me, I felt her suffering was unfathomable: loss, sadness, guilt, confusion, shame, anger, and trauma.
I was not professionally trained to deal with this. How could I possibly help her, other than to do my best to listen and try to understand?
Other tools and distinctions
But I had some "tools" that most others in the helping profession don't have. With Patricia's permission, I decided to find out what we could do together, even in just this one-hour session.
If you were in my shoes, how would you try to help Patricia?
What could you say to Patricia which would change things fundamentally for her?
The finale coming soon: Life 168 - Season 1 Episode 5