Meet the Author

Book Coach Kelly Irving Website Element

Meet Ian.

Ian is fascinated by people, teamwork and leadership.

Having once been an office clerk, taxi driver, door-to-door market researcher and bank teller, this showed him how we work together to achieve great results. It led him to establish his own business Optimal Future, where he now helps leaders shape a better future for themselves and their organisation.

Ian is one of my authors who recently self-published Becoming A Leader of Leadersthrough The Expert Author Academy.

I sat down to chat to Ian about the identity shift that comes with becoming an author.

Becoming a new author is very much like becoming a new leader, what were some of the identity struggles you faced when you decided to write this book?

First, taking myself seriously as a writer.

This is partly about shifting my own way of being and way of seeing and it is also about doing the work of writing. Second, feeling like I have useful things to say that other people would be interested in knowing and hearing about.

How did you overcome those struggles?

This is where the processes, practices and tools that you gave me in the Expert Author coaching program were so important. They demystified the writing process and made it into a job I could turn up and do every day. To quote another author ‘be a tradie … show up do the work and go home.’...

Once you start to see your book take shape, you start to physically see that you really do know stuff!

How important is your self-talk through this process?

How we are, whether we are trying to work as a leader or writer, is the result of how we are speaking to ourselves about ourselves, how we shape our bodies to reflect this speaking and the moods we find ourselves in. (In my book I call this core concept The Way of Being.)

To continue the work of writing I would deliberately say things to myself that a writer says like…’the first draft that everyone does is always shit, that’s just nature’. I physically set myself as a writer at work – a physical space that reflected what I wanted to be like, to help me sit up straight, be relaxed and be serious. This is serious and fun work.

What were some of your biggest "derailers" through the writing process?

Not taking my writing seriously and giving away writing time to other activities like vacuuming!

So I developed a very structure approach to writing the book. Writing days were structured into three 1.5 hour blocks with a 30 minute break in between. I would turn off all distractions, set my alarm for 1.5 hours and do nothing else but try and write. Eventually, the writing would come.

I learned from a Clive James interview once, if your job is to write then you do nothing else. You don’t tidy up, you don’t make a cup of tea and you certainly don’t check emails. You sit and do nothing until your fingers start moving. It really works!

What’s changed for you personally/professionally through the process of writing this book?

I feel like I have so much more agency.

All my life since I was about 10 years old I really wanted to be a writer. Now I have done it. Yes I have a book published but more importantly, I did the work and I absolutely loved doing it.

I feel more confident in what I bring to the world because I know I have a tangible product for me and others. I trust my own intuition so much more. I know what I want. I know what is good for me and what is not. I only get into problems when I doubt myself and try and be and do what someone else thinks I should do or be.

Think back to when this was just a seed of an idea, what do you know now that you wished you had known back then?

Nothing’s perfect. No one, no matter how great a writer they are ever writes a brilliant and perfect first draft. Be content with just writing and getting lots of words out.

Top 3 tips for any leader or author who is feeling overworked, over it or overwhelmed?

  1. Get up and move somewhere different. Stop thinking. Get up and walk somewhere else for 2 minutes.
  2. Stop and go and do one thing that brings you pleasure. Swim, eat chocolate, pat your dog, gaze at the clouds, play a computer game.
  3. If overwhelm persists, then download in a journal or to a trusted friend or advisor.

Bonus tip: Be open to making radical changes to your life. You get one go and you are dead for a long time!

Final message to aspiring writers?

It's OK to get help.

Kelly, your knowledge, skill and just plain human care and kindness is what unblocked me and made this possible.

Writing in many ways is a solo activity. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself.

Ian Lees book Becoming A Leader of Leaders is out now. Buy a copy and I'd love to gift you a writing journal as a thanks.

Ian Lees
Ian Lees is the lead coach at Optimal Future. He works with leaders in complex organisations who want to get better at taking people with them to shape the future. He provides engaging and insightful coaching so that leaders can achieve results in ever-changing environments by sustaining their own energy, engaging and inspiring people and actively shaping the future.

Books written by the author

Book by Ian Lees "Becoming Leader of Leaders" - Kelly Irving Book Coach
Becoming Leader of Leaders