Business Transformation

A Lasting Legacy: How CEOs Can Tell Whether They Have a Book in Them

Executives who would like to write a book should first prepare to be altered by the process of breathing life into that story. To create the sort of book that audiences embrace for decades to come, aspiring authors must be persistent, reflective, and unrelenting. Here are a few pointers for leaders who aren’t sure how to get started with writing a book.

Every human being is on a hero’s journey, and everyone has a brilliant story to tell. The only problem? Not everyone is capable of actually telling that story well. So how do you write a book that demands people’s attention?

Some of the best books written by executives involve a willingness to investigate their life, connect dots in new ways, and share the details that paint the mosaic of their journey. An author who does the hard work of examining their identity, the ways life has ground them to dust in the learning process, and the “why” behind the themes of their life is an author with a story that readers will not be able to put down. A story that changes readers is one that changed the author as they learned to tell it brilliantly.

When an executive is ready to expand their purpose beyond the four walls of their business — when they feel passionate about making a difference in lives beyond their company’s stakeholders — a book can be a central hub for that change. Before getting started with writing a book, business leaders must distance themselves from constantly putting out fires and being utterly consumed by work. They will need plenty of time to reflect on their life, their work, and their story as they embark on the process of writing a book.

There is never enough information to qualify an executive’s expertise in the same way that there is no real end to anyone’s earthly story until they are six feet under. Write and share your story anyway.

How to Approach Writing a Book

If you’re wondering how to write a good book, start with the focus of your book. A good book requires an author who is fascinated with their subject matter, who is willing to pull at their themes, poke at their experiences, prod their beliefs, break down the events of their life into a million pieces, and then put it all together anew for the sake of their readers. Whatever the topic, if you approach your writing with earnest curiosity and fascination, you can find a tribe who will love what you’ve produced.

The topics that don’t make for a great book are the ones that you have bought into with your brain but not necessarily with the marrow in your bones. Books are not just information — they are heart and soul and mind combined. Remember that living, breathing human beings will take your book to bed with them. Write a book that is more like a lover than an instruction manual.

Before beginning the process of writing a book, ask yourself these questions to identify whether your story is worth the ink:

  • Has life presented you with obstacles you’ve had to find ways around, over, or through?
  • Have you had your hopes so desperately set on an outcome that when it didn’t come to pass, you felt yourself being torn in two?
  • Have you ever discovered, years after a failure, that the pain prepared you for something greater?
  • Have you ever loved a person’s heart, a group’s heart, or the heart of an idea so much that you’ve been willing to die to protect it?
  • Do you ever lose sleep over your desire to impact the lives of others?
  • Are you searching for the contribution you are meant to make to the long arc of time — the next 250 years or more of humanity?

These life ingredients represent the six things you need to write a book: persistence, an understanding of pain, the ability to reflect, a willingness to fight for what you believe in, the unrelenting desire for meaning, and the need to contribute to the lives of others. If you were waiting for a sign, this is it. You have a book in you that wishes to be birthed. Now it’s time to dive into the process of writing that book

The Best Way to Start Writing a Book

I look at every book like a mystery to be solved. To start the writing process, it’s beneficial to determine the major puzzle pieces that have made up your life.

Begin by making two lists. The first will be a list of what you have pursued in your life, starting from early childhood. The second will be a list of what you have worked hard to avoid. If your lists are honest, you will discover a tension that exists between what you have pursued and what you have avoided. Within that tension lies the key to writing a good book.

As you review your lists, look for themes or patterns that have shown up repeatedly. They might not be immediately apparent, but trust that they are there, playing themselves out decade after decade. Without any attachment to how those experiences might later be assembled, explore the depth of each item on both of your lists by writing out everything that you remember about them. Look for the moments, themes, epiphanies, and collisions between what you believed and what the world was telling you that might have reshaped those beliefs.

Through this process, you’ll mine for clay that you can eventually mold into shapes with your writing. If you’re paying close attention and bringing yourself fully to the exploration, you should see patterns emerge — along with a greater sense of wholeness as you come to see your path in a different light. Each puzzle piece that represents a pursuit or an avoidance is another clue to share with your readers when you’re ready to string your puzzle pieces together into an emotional journey.

To produce a truly amazing piece of writing that will change your life and affect your readers, you must be willing to be altered by the process of writing the book. If you have an idea for your book but intend to outsource the execution entirely, with no willingness to do the hard work on your own, your book is more likely to function as a paperweight than it is to change lives — including your own.

You know in your heart whether you were meant to share your story. With the world offering a reset right now, it’s time to step into your destiny by writing a great book.

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Corey Blake
Corey Blake is the founder and CEO of Round Table Companies. He is a speaker, artist, and storyteller. Corey has spent more than 15 years guiding CEOs, founders, and thought leaders to write the books they were born to write. Corey Blake is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.