Friday, August 27, 2010

Open letter to trainees nearing success

This is an open letter to Eagle Eye copy editing trainees, most of whom are nearing the end of a difficult process of learning and transition. Most have passed the first of three final exams and are searching inside themselves for the confidence and clarity needed to go the distance.

Hi all,

Just a reminder to keep the big picture in mind. The tests aren't about scores and right versus wrong. They are filters that show you what you don't need to study anymore. They focus your attention on what still needs a bit more of your attention.

In that respect, they are your humble assistants, not the enemy.

They are also opportunities to demonstrate consistency and reliability, which are key traits for Eagle Eyes. Even when you're having an off day, the right response needs to fly out of your body without excess effort and attention.

Tests show you where you could use a little more shoring up.

In my karate school, we are told that losing in a tournament translates to "you have homework." It means an opponent showed you what aspect of competing you need more practice and training in. A loss is a new agenda, not a defeat.

I know it will feel good to feel finished. But take a deep breath, take some time off, then look with a laser-like focus at the items that the tests pointed out as good places to spend a little more time getting perfect clarity.

Make it social by talking it out, especially with people who have already graduated.

It's really important that you learn the principles rather than become familiar with the answers. Your mind needs to be able to bend in all directions around the many kinds of editing challenges out there; you need a dynamic, multi-dimensional response, not a 2-D black-and-white "answer" that fit a prior situation but not the current one.

Emotion enhances memory, so if you are mad at yourself for missing a particular item on a test, let that emotion be a memory aid.

Key point: Stay positive in your response to the anger. Turn frustration into motivation. Focus on what's correct, not on the mistake. Channel that energy into moving forward, not explaining or examining the past -- not in excuses but in concrete actions toward your new destination.

You are so close. Just be positive and keep stepping forward.