Lessons from the past

I seem to be looking backwards today. Recently we observed Memorial Day, a day to recognize and remember the men and women who died while in the Armed Forces.

It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War. Flowers and flags were placed on graves. Poppies are distributed by the American Legion Auxiliary.

My connection with the military is different from many of my generation. Both my dad and my husband’s father were frozen into their civilian jobs during WWII. My older sisters married medical students shortly after or near the end of their military service so I didn’t really think of them as being veterans. I was in college during the early involvement of the US in the Vietnam War. While a few friends were in the Reserves, most had full student deferments.

Years later, after we moved to New York State, I worked for a small VA hospital/domiciliary as a Blind Rehabilitation Specialist and Education Therapist. I got to know a lot of men who had served in WWII and the Korean War. Before I moved from the VA to the Library of Congress some Vietnam vets were starting to be treated at that VA.

These were the days when the VA seemed to be functioning more effectively than now. There were the frustrations that came with being part of a large bureaucracy, but for the most part vets who requested services were able to get them in a timely manner.

My response to one of the questions I was asked during my job interview comes to mind periodically. It was during a time I was feeling particularly confident in my abilities. When the medical director asked me if I could do the job I assured him that I could handle it all.

I didn’t realize until after I was in the job all that was needed. Isn’t that always the case? We learn some bits and pieces about a new job after the fact, that challenge us more than we expect them to.

Yet I approached that job with confidence and was successful in it, even though I did struggle with my first supervisor – a short physician with a specialty in rehabilitation medicine. He really didn’t seem to like working with either patients or staff and was fully capable of verbally abusing both. It was a more hostile environment than I had worked in before.

When my position was relocated to the social work department for the last few years I was there, I found a very different type of supervisor. The social worker who supervised me was concerned about the care of the patients and also alert to the needs of his staff members.

I learned a lot during my eleven years with the VA about the type of supervisor and the type of person I wanted to be – one who built up the self-confidence of the people who worked under me, not one who fostered feelings of being unworthy.

Now, as I am working through the challenges of entrepreneurship, I wonder why it has been the feelings of unworthiness that I am more aware of in the middle of the night than those early feelings of confidence. I have found that working with a coach was the greatest help to me in recognizing who I was and what I did have to offer.

The internal questions of Can I really do this? Do I have a message that others will want to read? and Can I make it interesting enough for them to pay for it? come up with most writers, especially when working on their first book.

Working through these and similar questions is part of the process that leads to being a successful writer. And it is something that is next to impossible to do by yourself. A writing partner or coach can make a world of difference in moving through this process. Their guidance adds perspective and draws the answers out of you in ways that inspire confidence.  Let me help you in this process.

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