In the 1982 Romantic Drama movie, An Officer and a Gentleman, starring Richard Gear and Louis Gossert Jnr, Zack, a naval aviation candidate (played by Gere), who was raised by a drunken father, has some issues with authority. He locks heads with his hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in his training as a naval aviator. Gossert’s vocabulary seems to consist solely of crass insults designed to drain every bit of ego and morale from his trainees and one can almost feel his hot breath upon your face and grimace at the spittle in your eye when he verbally lambasts his latest recruits.
In our politically correct society today, in our hearts we would haul that Sergeant in for abuse and yet, in the class, the candidates learn humility, respect, character and above all team work. No one has ever won a war alone.
I know that if I were facing my enemy, I would want that Gunnery Sergeant on my team. A team member who does not mince his words or pampers me. One who teaches me the skills on how to “get the hell out” of those trenches and live to fight another day. Most of us allow our fear of apparent rejection to make our dreams slink away like an ill-treated dog.
While not all teams are built using this brutal approach, as authors, we can learn a thing or two about accepting difficult feedback and toughening up a bit. We are far too easy to run to the hills and reject the sage that pitches when they see greatness in us because they are uncompromising in their methods.
Building a dream team and learning how to work with them is one of the greatest skills that an author can have. Yet in today’s society, we all want to speak our own truth and get into the limelight without going through the rites of passage. If you do not believe me, have a look at just how appalling some of the Pop Idols auditions are. People are too eager to get humiliated in public rather than put in the hours of work and feedback to master their craft first.
The ability to correctly process feedback is a learned skill. We are not born with it. As a parent, I believe all toddlers are born with the ability to throw tantrums and, strangely enough, a love of tomato sauce. It makes sense that they would throw tantrums. After all, they are smaller and relatively powerless compared to adults, and so they will use their energy to assert dominance in the hope that you will back down. This is a basic survival skill of many species on the planet.
When facing challenges, our primal instincts always come into play and authors are not immune to this. We want to design our own covers; we want to edit our own work and we can even get a bit sulky when someone does not like our book and gives us a critical review. We would rather sit in the mediocrity of friends who never had the courage to step out past what they know and have our egos pampered.
There is a place for the healing balm of friendship and when I feel a bit battle weary, I have a friend I turn to who always paints me as the hero and I can bask in the unconditional love and acceptance of her gentle manner. But this is my temporary camp and when I am refreshed, I continue in my journey of learning with the battle scared veterans of authorship.
In the fight to defend your dreams, you are going to have losses. All teams face conflicts, betrayals and disappointments. In my author career, I have had several people as part of my team. Some have walked the journey with me and some have fallen away. I am no stranger to betrayal and I have been deeply hurt when I was relying on someone and they let me down.
It has been a hard lesson to learn, but I have strengthened my skills of accepting feedback and having the grace of discovering what the lessons are from the person/s who I have journeyed with. These are skills that you too must master when building a successful author team.
Too often, as authors, when we don’t get what we want from a relationship, we label it as a poor relationship, but that is missing the point of your learning. A team changes as you do and when you bid farewell with grace to one of them, you make room for another person with new skills that can take you to levels that you have not yet achieved. Provided you are ready to let go of your ego and your less mature expectations.
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Hello, I am Kim Vermaak
I spent most of my adult life helping other companies build their dream and their brands.
After I turned 40, I wondered if there was more to life than taking care of children and slaving away to earn a living.
I wanted to create a legacy for my children and the next generation. I found that through my books I could celebrate who I am as well as teach others to earn a living through their writing.
Being an author is not a hobby. It is a business, and it is my passion to teach authors how to thrive in that business. I look forward to seeing your book business grow.
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