Remember Kissinger

In Turbocharge Your Writing, I tell a story about politician Henry Kissinger that is worth repeating here:

Kissinger assigned a writing project to one of his aides. The aide wrote the piece and sent it in. But the next day the manuscript was back on the aide's desk with a yellow note from Kissinger saying, "You can do better."

The aide reworked the material and again sent it in. Next day the aide found the same manuscript back on his desk with yet another note that said, "You can do better."

The aide rewrote the material, ruthlessly edited it, added some powerful facts and figures, proofread it, and then hand-delivered it. He told Kissinger, "Sir, this is the best I can do."

Kissinger accepted the manuscript and said, "In that case, I'll read it."

Kissinger had never read those earlier drafts! He had simply tricked the aide into doing the best work possible.

You can always do better. Now, whenever I finish a project, I ask myself, "Can you do better?"

If I'm honest with myself, I know I can.

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