Taking Stock: A Good Starting Point

Today is “Erev Yom Kipur,” the eve of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year for Jews–the conclusion of ten days of spiritual “inventory-taking” that began on the Feast of Trumpets, now known as Rosh HaShana, the beginning of the lunar year.

All Jewish holidays–indeed, all days–begin at sundown and end at sundown. Every week, Shabat–our sabbath–begins at sundown on Friday, and ends at sundown on Saturday. (This is because Genesis reports of the days of Creation, “It was evening, and it was morning, the (first, second, etc.) day.”)

We examine ourselves during the ten days between Trumpets and Yom Kipur, and take action–asking forgiveness of those we’ve hurt, making restitution, finding a place of repentance. Then on the Day of Atonement we sum it all up, admit our faults to God, express our sorrow and our determination to do better, and seek forgiveness. Thus we are prepared to begin a new year, with a clean heart.

This narrative of taking stock, sorting things out, examining our feelings and attitudes, taking appropriate action, and beginning anew, is a recognizable human behavior pattern. It’s a journey people understand. So you can use it as a pattern for your book.

How might this work? Let’s say you’re a coach. You could arrange your initial outline like this:

  • My personal story
  • Things got bad
  • Things got worse
  • Finally, I realized…
  • I faced my situation, made restitution, asked for forgiveness
  • Started over
  • Became a coach
  • Have helped others
  • I can help you

For a consultant, it might be something like:

  • I worked in a company
  • Encountered problems
  • They got worse
  • Then I realized…
  • I took action and made things right
  • Decided to help others deal with similar issues
  • Worked with a client (repeat pattern)
  • Worked with another client (repeat pattern)
  • Now I help lots of clients, and can help you

Your turn.

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