The Independent Route
When it came to making publishing decisions for Awakened Leadership, Shelton opted to self-publish rather than to shop his book to major industry players. Releasing the book under his own Red Hatchet Press imprint (named after the book’s first chapter and inaugural story), Shelton spoke of the reasons that drove him towards independent publishing:
“Every author has that decision to make,” he explained. “Do I want to go out to a literary agent and find a large publishing house, or are there reasons that would drive me to publishing this on my own, since this new avenue is available?”
Ultimately, Shelton opted for the latter.
“I felt that the subject matter (of awakening and maturity from an experiential standpoint), needed to be edited by someone who had actually stood in that experience,” Shelton said. “It couldn't be subject to a normal editor. It had to be someone who had similar experiences, because I didn't want to lose the authenticity of his stories by having them aimed at a more commercial audience.
Indie Groundbreaking Book
Indie Groundbreaking Book: Awakened Leadership
Lessons on Business and Life from a Master
Everyone has seen the stereotypical “leadership how-to,” guides often saddled with charts, facts and figures, and business stories the authors have picked up along their path towards corporate success. But Alan Shelton, a businessman with an eclectic resume and a colorful life story, aims to do something else entirely with our latest groundbreaking book, Awakened Leadership: Beyond Self Mastery. Shelton began his career as a merger acquisition specialist at Price Waterhouse, going on to serve as CFO and CEO of numerous companies, and delving into the dense topic of deconstructive philosophy as a graduate student. The lessons laid forth in Awakened Leadership sprout from that interest. In the book, Shelton integrates the habits of effective leadership and the path of spiritual awakening, arguing that, in many ways, the two disparate ideas go hand in hand.
"My main purpose was to break down the wall that I sensed between the eternal path of maturity and awakening, and the personal development within the corporate world,” Shelton explained. “People have long had the tradition of doing corporate financial work in the corporate world, and then leaving it behind to do personal development somewhere else. What I wanted people to see was that, actually, there's an availability for internal expansion to happen no matter where you are. I wanted to raise my hand to say that there isn’t that division: you can embrace who you are as an achiever in the business world, but your own internal development nests in the middle of that. You don't have to give one up to do the other.”
Shelton, who left his own business aspirations behind in search of personal enlightenment, traveled the world in search for the answers he now believes he could have found at home. However, the stories he gathered and the people he met along the way serve as the backbone for Awakened Leadership, and prove to be its greatest distinguishing quality. The book plays out as part leadership guide, part spiritual journey, and part collection of personal storytelling. Shelton mines anecdotes and moments from his own life, finding the meaning in them, and using them as relatable and accessible means for him to relay his unique leadership perspective.
“What I wanted the book to be, in terms of separating it from other books of its kind, was experiential,” he said. “A lot of leadership books use stories gleaned from here or there, but I wanted this book to be a deeper, more profound experience than that. I guess you could call it the narrative approach: I wanted people to read these stories and say, ‘wow that sounds like a story I have.’ I wanted them to understand that leadership development is a series of experiences, that the stories they’re standing in right now are the building blocks.”
But despite the groundbreaking, confessional-feel of the stories that make up Awakened Leadership (each chapter is a different story from the author’s own life), Shelton admits that the approach came about almost accidentally.
“I holed up in an apartment in South America to write the book and enlisted an old friend help me find my voice,” Shelton laughed. “So I wrote the first chapter in this erudite, technical way, three or four-thousand words, and sent it off to her. Ten minutes later, I got an email telling me to throw it away and start again. Eventually, I sat down to just do a good piece of writing, and came up with the ‘Red Hatchet’ story that ended up as the book’s first chapter. A few minutes later, she emailed me back telling me to ‘write every story from your life that you can think of.’ In that moment, I recognized that I had found my voice. I knew that I was a storyteller anyway, I just hadn’t understood that I needed to be absolutely myself in my writing, in the same way that I am absolutely myself in everything else I do.”
The result is a one-of-a-kind work, combining traditional American leadership theories and ancient, mystical traditions, while also exploring personal internal development and stages of maturation. All of it, as the subtitle hints, is aimed at moving beyond self-mastery, at shedding the idea of the self, and becoming a more enlightened and aware leader as result. But where most books about business leadership try to mold their readers into a specific model, Shelton stresses that, “to be the most effective leader, you must be more of who you already are.”
“I had always managed my image before,” Shelton explained. “But (with this book), I felt like I needed to, whenever possible, take risks. I felt that, in telling my stories, I needed to not manage them to an audience, but to take risk in telling my own developmental stories – even if they fell outside of the boundaries of the norm. That was the main element that people needed to understand in their development, that they need exercise in standing in the unknown.”
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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In edition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.