This Student needed a Wingman

I’ve decided it’s time for me to learn to write.

Not write at the level where friends consider me a good writer, but at a level where even crazy busy people read my stuff. Because it’s worth reading.

I ramped up my writing effort by hiring Lindsey Hadwin as my writing coach/editor/wingman.

Takamine G Series

Takamine G Series

The Student Wasn’t Ready

To explain hiring Lindsey, let’s travel back 35 years to the day I launched my career as a rock-and-roll star.

Having completed my BA degree,my parents graduation gift was a guitar.  I think it was a 6-string Takamine.

It was a time when the economy was bad.  Jimmy Carter was president and the fuel shortage led to lines at the gas stations and even “no gas” warnings.  Jobs were scarce, but I landed one with the Boy Scouts of America as a “District Executive.”  That took me from urban Minneapolis to small-town Ashland, Wisconsin.  Ashland is a beautiful area that was economically depressed and lonely for this outsider.

On one of my lonely days, my therapy was to pull out my new guitar and learn to play.

First, I needed to tune it.

No wingman?  Adios, Rock Star

I grabbed the little tuning fork I’d purchased, read the instructions and started tightening the E string.  Tighter.  Tighter.  Twang!  It broke.  Not to worry, I had two spares.  Twang!  Twang! Having murdered three E strings,the guitar went back in its case, banished to the closet and later sold.

Looking back on that triplet of twangs, I realized it was a moment I needed a teacher.



Who knew?  Not me.

My recent writing experiences have felt a little twangy.  Rather than putting the blogging process in a closet, I decided to become a student and called Lindsey.

Flailing Sucks

Over the years, I’ve coached lots of people who needed to learn something new.   Delegating, conflict management and lots else.  I’m convinced it’s hard for someone two, three, or five decades out of school to do that.

Why?  As adults, we get accustomed to being good at what we do.  Being a beginner can be a painful process.  Flailing and sucking can feel like failing. Or seen as learning.  Back in Ashland, without someone to guide me, I judged myself as a failure. With a Lindsey as my wingman, I’m hoping I will avoid the abyss and see myself as a student.

You've got to know your limitations

You’ve got to know your limitations

Clint Eastwood’s character Dirty Harry said we’ve “got to know our limitations.” That’s right.  Sometimes we’re fine on our own, but sometimes we need a guide. That guide may not make us rock stars, but it can keep us from giving up.

To that point my internal critic responds with “Jim Earley, you’re not a beginner.  For crying out loud, you were a journalism major.”

Not a beginner at writing?  True.  A beginning writer? True, too.

Writing vs. Being a Writer  

I remember talking with a guy who’d been a weekend car racer for years.  When he started, he usually finished.  After a couple of years, he was better;  never finishing last and usually in the middle.  A couple more years and he was better still;  sometimes he’d even finish in the top 10.

But after five or six years, he could say with certainty that what he was doing different from whatever the winners were doing.  If he was racing, they were Racers.

Student…are you ready?

In case you’re wondering what I hope to get out of becoming a better writer, there are lots of possible outcomes.  Including attracting business or getting speaking opportunities.  I’ll be happy if they happen and that’s not what’s driving me.  What’s driving me is my feeling that it’s important for me to take writing on just to take it on.  It’s time to master something new.

You may sense it’s time for you to just take something on.  Or you may be facing a business, personal, musical or health issue where success depends on developing a new skill.  Maybe you need to master public speaking.  Or you need to master difficult conversations.  Or get back to playing piano.  Or want to ride in the 2015 TransPortugal with Carmichael Training.

Or maybe you want to save your relationship with your son.

Believe me, you won’t want to look back and realize a broken string kept you from your dreams.

Do you need a wingman?


Jim Earley



Maria Nemeth

Carmichael Training

Lindsey Hadwin


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