A while back, a very good friend of mine and I sat down and went through some SWOT analysis on each other. It was a very useful exercise. For me, the most interesting point that my friend mad about me, and I challenged him on it at the time, was that he put “Instant trust” as an attribute in both my Strengths box and my Weaknesses box.
What he meant was that I open up with people as soon as I meet them. I tell the truth about what I think and what I feel. That is sometimes a risk that could come back to bite me but, more often, I find that I quickly gain the respect of my new acquaintance. There have been many times when that approach has paid great dividends in both my work life and my business life.
Of course, if I am conveying what could be perceived as a negative message, I always take care to do so diplomatically and I try to avoid causing hurt if at all possible. I also try to balance negative messages with positive messages.
If I see something which I think is beautiful, I like to share it widely so that others may enjoy it too. This is why I love writing and reading book reviews. If I can help somebody to improve their lives by making a small sacrifice of my own, I’ll do so.
This puts me in danger of becoming a doormat, to coin a cliche. It does make me vulnerable and could eventually lead to my downfall. But I would rather trust a person from the first second that I meet them until they give me a reason not to trust them, than suspect that they are going to lay me on the ground and wipe their dirty boots on me.
The point that Hemingway was making, I think, was that people should enjoy the freedom of their actions and writing without fearing the consequences of sharing the beauty, telling the truth or of getting hurt.
I’ve just done so in this post, so please be gentle with me in your responses.
But write with freedom!
The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.