August Book-of-the-Month: Scary Close by Donald Miller
This month’s review is by Amy Kolodziej. Do you have a book that would be perfect for the The Rising Tide Book Club? Submit it here.
As a creative business owner I have learned that my business is only as strong as the foundation it’s built upon…and, as a sole proprietor, that foundation is ME. When I started my business I believed that I could push through whatever challenges I was facing and maintain a completely separate self. I believed that my business and my personal life (and the ups and downs that come with each) had nothing to do with one another. Man was I wrong!
Once I started to connect the dots, I saw that my work suffered with my personal life just as freely as it soared along with it. I could not build a wall around my business and expect for it to thrive when I was crumbling beneath it. I made a commitment to myself and to my family to work through my personal struggles, the insecurities, the balance issues and the guilt in order to strengthen my business and myself.
That is where Scary Close by Donald Miller comes in to play. I picked up this book without really digging too deeply into it, which is unusual for me. I’m generally the type to read about twenty-five reviews before I can commit to a book. Scary Close, however, drew me in with just the tag line: dropping the act and finding true intimacy.
It is a fast and easy read, one of the things I usually get held up on with typical business how-to books. This IS NOT your typical how-to book; in fact, it wasn’t until after I had finished that I realized it was more of a relationship book. The author doesn’t lay it out in bullet points or numbered checklists. He simply tells stories and little anecdotes from his own life and business experiences to point out his failures and his strengths. He touches on business growth, faith, marriage, and friendships…everything that requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and allow others to “know” us.
In one of the more powerful stories of his past, the author discusses a severe case of writer’s block, and how he had to learn to overcome his fear of rejection in order to move past it. He was so used to pretending to be a “big shot” famous author that he had forgotten how to drop the shield and write in his typical wide-open style. What he learned from that experience was an important reminder to all small business owners:
I am willing to sound dumb.
I am willing to be wrong.
I am willing to be passionate about something that isn’t perceived as cool.
I am willing to express a theory.
I am willing to admit I’m afraid.
I’m willing to contradict something I’ve said before.
I’m willing to have a knee-jerk reaction, even a wrong one.
I’m willing to apologize.
I’m perfectly willing to be perfectly human.
I underlined and starred those words. As entrepreneurs, creative entrepreneurs especially, we put ourselves out there everyday. If the person we are putting out there isn’t authentic, how can we expect to build a business that people can fall in love with? We think about intimacy as a concept that only applies to romantic relationships, but intimacy is at the core of every relationship we seek to build. Being true to ourselves can only help us grow in business.
In Scary Close, Donald Miller used his struggle with being true to himself and learning to let people in to show how it positively impacted both his business (he saw tremendous growth) and his personal life (he met and married a woman that accepted his flaws, and he accepted hers). We don’t need bullet points or action plans to put his knowledge to use in our own stories. We just need to drop the act.