Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’
NOTE: The website crashed and is in the process of being rebuilt. Everything is there, it’s just not in pristine order yet. If you’re looking for a specific post, like this one, You might want to use the search box on the “Blog” page. I tried it and it pulled the article right up. I’m re-posting this article, as requested, below:
KEY MOMENTS THAT DEFINE YOUR LIFE
© 2011, Vicki Hinze
Life-defining moments. We all have them. Yet when we think of them in abstract terms, we think they’re these huge events. But the keys are often not in huge events. They’re in small, seemingly insignificant events that truly define to us who we are and who we choose to be.
As you’d expect, these defining moments don’t all happen at once, but over the course of our lives, and all through our lives we’re presented with opportunities to change our minds. That’s a good thing, because sometimes we take wrong turns, or as my darling daughter would put it, “We don’t make wise choices.” So we’re given chances to redefine ourselves.
Let me share a few examples.
In second grade, I had a buffalo head nickel and a comic book that said it was worth a lot more than a nickel. We also had a jar on the window ledge in our classroom that was for donations. I had to choose. Do I keep the nickel for myself or put it in the jar to help others?
That doesn’t seem like a monumental choice, does it? A little thing for a little girl. But it was a life-defining moment. I could put my wants/needs first or try to help others. I knew it. Something inside me told me this was a big decision. I chose the jar. And it became a theme in my life. Oh, I didn’t define it as one then. But it did influence my focus and future decisions until as an adult it became a conscious way of life.
I chose the jar. And that put me on a path that had me adopting “I Serve” as a personal motto. When I can, I help others.
At about twenty, I was struggling. Money was tight, everything was a struggle. I went into a store and made a small purchase. The clerk made a mistake and gave me $20 too much change. That was a lot of money then. A week’s worth of groceries. Gas for the car for a month. I was broke and times were hard and I had to choose: keep it or tell the clerk she’d made a mistake. In that position, it was a mental war and the temptation to do the wrong thing was powerful—a life-defining moment.
That money would have made my life a lot easier, but my conscience would have hammered me. What kind of person did I want to be? I knew I was deciding that, standing at the drugstore checkout counter. I chose to be honest. I gave the money back to her. Life-defining.
Later still, I was grown; a wife and a mother. I went grocery shopping and put a book in the top part of the cart so it wouldn’t be wet by the cold stuff. My handbag was atop it. I checked out, paid for the groceries and went to my car. When I unloaded the cart and lifted my purse, I saw the book was there. I hadn’t paid for it. I checked the receipt to be sure, but sure enough, it wasn’t on it. Yet another life-defining moment. Did I get in the car or go back into the store and pay for the book?
I went back and paid for the book. I still wanted to be honest. I didn’t want to feel badly every time I walked into that store, and if I hadn’t, I would have.
Those are three little examples but they’re significant because they’re not huge events and they’re not major incidents. In the grand scheme of things, they’re little things. A nickel, twenty dollars, a paperback novel aren’t exactly fortune making or breaking. But they are character-making or breaking things.
In each case, I was totally aware that I had to choose. I had to decide how I would define my life. And I knew that I alone was responsible for the decisions I made.
We all have life-defining moments. Many of them. I didn’t always make the right choices. But I have always been given more opportunities to change my mind and make wiser choices. We all are.
My point? We choose. We might have endured horrific things, wicked events in our lives where we have every reason—some would say every justification for being adults lacking character. But the truth is we become adults. As adults, we experience life-defining moments where no matter what we’ve endured or suffered or experienced, we decide. We innately know our options and we choose.
Our decisions define our lives. We are the people we choose to be in the ways that most matter. A lesson from my daughter: choose wisely. You will live with the choices you make.
The choices you make define your character. And your character defines how you feel about yourself. That image of you is projected in hundreds of ways to others.
So today, you have homework. What have been your life-defining moments? Who have you chosen to be?
And, yes, you may consider this an opportunity to revisit those choices and make wiser ones.
That, my dear friends, is the purpose of this post.
© 2011, Vicki Hinze
Long ago, a president used the term Trust but Verify about a foreign policy issue. It struck me as good advice so I remembered it. And over the years since then, it’s been advice that has proven valuable.
I’m amazed at the number of people who agree to terms and sign anything shoved before them without reading the documents. At those who make agreements and sign contracts never bothering to review the fine print.
We’ve all heard the saying that the devil is in the details. So when I receive notes like one yesterday, where an author was livid because of a contract term she didn’t know was in her contract and now must abide by on the contracted project and future projects, the first question that comes to mind is: Why didn’t you know that was there?
In this case, the agent told the author the contract was fine to sign. So the author signed it.
Don’t get me wrong. Agents can be wonderful assets and they routinely go the extra mile to protect their clients. This wasn’t an unusual term; it’s seen in a lot of contracts. But it’s one that this particular author did not want in this specific contract.
The simple point is that if the author had reviewed the contract, there would not have been any surprises. The author would have known exactly what was in it and would have known to negotiate out or strike that clause from the contract.
Now the author is upset with the agent and the publisher. But is that fair?
Every author knows that an editor is an employee of the publisher and as such is to do his/her best to protect the interests of the publisher. That the editor is expected—and paid—to contract the best terms and conditions for the publisher possible.
Every author knows that there is nothing—not a word—in a literary contract that isn’t there for a specific reason, and that contracts vary from publisher to publisher and indeed from author to author within one publishing house. Some agents have their own boilerplate contracts with verbiage they want in all of their agency’s contracts.
Authors too have specific clauses that they want and don’t want in their contracts. They’ve learned what they want and don’t want from previous experiences and acquired specific knowledge, but if they don’t read the contract then how can they know what’s in it?
Trust but verify is not an antagonist approach to contractual agreements. It’s not an antagonist approach to working arrangements, strategic business alliances, to anything that has to do with your professional or personal lives.
In this specific case, the author signed without reading. Now that author is bound to the agreement. Perhaps in the next contract this clause in this contract can be renegotiated. If so, great. If not, the author is legally (and morally) bound to honor the agreement made.
Reading a legal document before you sign it seems like a simple thing. We all get busy, we’re all time-crunched, and often authors think that’s what they pay agents for. But if, as in this case, a legitimate and common clause is one to which a specific author objects, then the agent relies on the author to state that objection. If the author does not, then the agent can’t know it. And if the agent can’t know it, it is not a reasonable expectation to hold the agent responsible for the clause being in the contract.
As authors we have responsibilities on the business end just as we do on the creative end. It’s our responsibility to read our contracts before signing them just as it is our responsibility to honor our agreements.
It serves us well, and makes for better alliances with agents and publishers, who also have responsibilities, if all involved trust but verify. *
1. THANK YOU. I wanted to publicly thank readers for coming out so strongly to support BEFORE THE WHITE ROSE. You’ve made it a bestseller in the U.S. and in the U.K. and I so appreciate it and your reviews and notes on how this project has touched you. Those comments of yours mean more than any ranking ever could!
2. Seascapes. You know Bell Bridge Books is re-releasing many of my backlist books. They’re starting with the general market Seascape trilogy. The covers are in on the first two, Beyond the Misty Shore and Upon a Mystic Tide. (Beyond the Misty Shore is out now and Tide will be shortly.) I thought you might like to see the covers. I think they’re beautiful. What do you think?
Warning: This is a no-edit zone…
The adrenaline is settling for many, and yet anxiety runs high because looking ahead so much is uncertain. Our own futures are, in part due to the economic crisis, a mystery to us. There are many other factors, including new leadership, but Americans are by nature ones to rally around their leaders until such time as they feel they no longer deserve our support. So the leadership issue isn’t driving our anxiety. The economic crisis and how it will develop and resolve is the root of an enormous amount of anxiety for most of us.
One of the major challenges for those trying to tamp that anxiety is doubt that those responsible–and there are many in all quarters–will be held accountable. We’ve been lax on responsibility and accountability for a while now, but this crisis has brought those things into sharp focus, and now we expect it. Many demand it.
Believers are far less anxious, which is to say, they’re not out on the ledge. Why is that?
The answer can be summed up in one word: Faith.
We know that regardless of accountability by man, every individual is held accountable for his or her actions and deeds by the ultimate authority. The scales will be balanced. We might not know the point and time. We might not see it. We might not feel the weight of the shift. But we know that accountability will be had because the Bible tells us it will, and we believe it.
We know that in that balance, personal responsibility is reconciled. We are responsible for ourselves and our actions. We know that while government sets policy and laws consistent with a civil society, God’s laws supersede and they are not mutable. Responsibility on the part of every individual will be had because the Bible tells us it will, and we believe it.
Those two things diminish a great deal of anxiety. God’s promises diminish more.
Times will not always be good or easy. We’re told we’re tested to strengthen us.
We know that no matter what happens, we will never be given more than we can handle. Sometimes we wonder if God slipped off for a snooze and thinks we’re stronger than we are, but we ultimately discover that He hasn’t slipped off anywhere, He knew our abilities and capabilities, and while we might have doubted, He knew. We find solace and comfort and strength in knowing we can handle what confronts us or it wouldn’t be confronting us.
Believers know what they believe. While their understanding grows and deepens and at times refines their belief–they explore and grow in faith–it is faith itself that sustains them and allows them to take risks, face dangers, do what must be done to fulfill their purpose. They know their minds, and their hearts, and the two are working together in tandem.
So the message I’m trying to share is to know your beliefs.
During the course of the election, I received so many emails from readers seeking direction on how to vote. People were torn, confused, worried about the future and unsure of what to do. They were fearful of making a mistake.
I attempted to address this without interjecting my personal views in a post where I recommended people look at the voting records and the character of the candidates and to use that as a basis to form a choice.
The records tell us where candidates have been, what their focus has been on, and in part what they believe. The character tells us who the candidates are, what they believe in, and who they hope to become. That guides us on the choices they are apt to make shaping our futures.
The problem I saw in the emails weren’t that the voters were uninformed. It was that the voters hadn’t really thought out their own beliefs. What they personally thought about the issues. And that was the root source of their anxiety.
I’m not talking about rote answers. I’m talking about practical application. Looking at an issue, knowing the candidates stands on those issues, and then putting that issue into a practical application so that the weight and impact of the differing choices is mentally realized so that the differences in the results can be analyzed.
Often when one invests long enough to do this, one has no questions. One might not agree with any one candidate on every issue, but the individual does know which candidate agrees with the person on the issues that most matter to the individual.
When you don’t know that in which you believe, you forfeit your voice. When you do know, you can use your voice and be heard.
Believers understand this. They understand that you can’t be a silent entity or forfeit your voice without forfeiting more.
Faith isn’t just words, it’s deeds in action.
But to put the right deeds into action, you first must know in what you believe.
c2008, vicki hinze