I stumbled back across my illustrations for the Learning Science Guidebook today, and experienced two feelings in rapid succession.
Firstly, i thought that some of the work actually looked quite good, and felt a renewed urge to get it out there. Then the second thought hit me: a reminder of why i have not published it yet: because the thread that holds it together still eludes me.
I abandoned this work around a year ago, overtaken by excitement with Quiet Leadership (which, by contrast, was easy to write): time has given me a better perspective. Last year i felt overwhelmed that i was not bright enough to ‘think’ my way out of the challenge, this year i feel confident i can read my way out of it: it’s not that the book is bad, it’s just that i have more to learn before i can tell the story.
And that’s ok: part of #WorkingOutLoud, or indeed our broader leadership and practice, is to always ask whether we will use our own uncertainty, failure, doubt, or ignorance, as a shield, or a sword.
To use my own ignorance as a shield would be comforting, but ultimately i will just be hiding behind it. To use it as a sword is to use the sharp edge of my ignorance to cut into the dark. To be unafraid to use it to learn.
There is no shame in that: i would rather never publish this work, but feel that i am gaining better understanding myself, than publish it as an act of pride. Perhaps that is a feature of age.
I already have fifteen books, and i am reasonably comfortable that some are better than others. If you ask me which, i will be ok to tell you. I’ve built my raft, but it’s a long way from a boat.
Some things just take time, and even though this work is incomplete as a body, it still helps me in my practice: the thinking that we do stays with us and sometimes pops up in other and unexpected places or ways.
For me it is a reminder to welcome and even celebrate our own ignorance, especially if we use it as a sword.