How Lucky Am I?

sunrise sunflower

It doesn’t feel like a Friday. I woke up this morning thinking, “Ugh! Monday!” which is a pretty crappy thing to think any day of the week that I find I’ve opened my eyes on yet another glorious day.  As my friend Mary is fond of saying, “Look at the alternative!” which is not waking up at all. I’m not so old that I’ve begun counting the days or the hours but I have lived long enough to know that every day is precious. And every day we can learn something new or be reminded of something we already know.

 Courageous Follower

While teaching leadership classes back in the 90s, I discovered a book that is still very relevant today: The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders.  I became enthralled with the idea of followership and contacted the author, Ira Chaleff. He is a kind and gracious man, dedicated to his study and his work, and he was happy to talk with me.

His book became a staple text in my classrooms and followed me into Leadership Academy as well as other classes I was teaching at the time, English (at several levels) and Introduction to Psychology.  Along with Echkart Tolle’s A New Earth and Osbon’s A Joseph Campbell Companion, The Courageous Follower has a permanent place on my desk. Through the years, it has inspired me to challenge myself and my leaders, transform my work and my life, and most importantly, have the courage to leave untenable situations. I’ve given away dozens of copies while keeping for myself one dog-eared, torn-covered, hard-back copy–signed by Ira.

A few weeks ago, I found Ira through LinkedIn. As I suspected, he’s been hard at work but not spectacularly active on social media. We exchanged pleasantries through email which gave me a chance to think about the different directions my life has taken since leaving my teaching position, and pondering how I ended up here still clinging to great books and memories.

I heard from Ira again yesterday. In my reply to his email, I had a chance to mention that I’ve been daydreaming about getting back into the real world of business and education, “but I spend my days writing novels and wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life.” Here is his response:  “I need to laugh – the rest of the world would like to get away from their jobs to write their novel and you’re writing novels and wondering what to do with the rest of your life!”

I laughed, too. And I’m still laughing. How lucky am I? I’ve always dreamed of spending my time writing, doing what comes naturally to me. For me, writing is like breathing–most days. Some days there’s a hitch, I feel like I have a writer’s version of hay fever–twitching thoughts and fumble fingers– and I can’t quite get it together. But most of the time, I breathe and write freely and easily and without the stress of having to leave my work and my joy to go to a desk job.

I am thankful for this opportunity to do what I love to do but sometimes it takes someone I respect and admire to gently hammer home, with a smile and a laugh, just how fortunate I am. I may never be #1 on the NYT Best Seller’s List, but I’m thrilled to sell books at all. I write books that I’d like to read and I tell stories that are different and hopefully inspiring. And I get to do it every day and every night from the comfort of my own comfy cave. Seriously, how lucky am I?

 Just for fun!

Follow the Leader

This photo from Pinterest feels appropriate today.

2 responses to “How Lucky Am I?

  1. Colleen – I just saw this post, two or three years later.. As you say, I am not spectacularly active on social media. I wonder how your writing has progressed? Your life? My next book is out in about a month: Intelligent Disobedience. Please watch for it. I hope it, too, finds a place on your bookstand. All my best, Ira Chaleff


  2. Hello, Ira! It’s great to hear from you! I’m excited to hear about Intelligent Disobedience. I’ve been spending more time out in the real world than in my world writing lately. Life-balance can be challenging and I’m still looking for the next opportunity, but I still consider myself a very, very lucky woman.


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