Lessons of Growth from R.L. Stine


For many of us, we can have a rushed mindset. Not a season of life where there’s a lot to do.

I’m talking about we can be rushed by default, times when our standard operating procedure can be hectic and chaotic.

This is not good, it’s not healthy, and I see this the longer I have my smartphone.

I wage war constantly against red notification badges and email alerts. As a result, I see how vigilant I must be in order to keep focused, and I don’t believe I am the only one.

We are in a battle for our attention and our focus. It’s challenging to slow down, focus on something, and determine what is truly important.

Even though it may be more difficult now for us to really focus, I still believe wise career decisions are possible. We can determine what is truly important for us. We can choose to take on a slower pace of life, even though others may not. We have a choice in how we respond, and we can respond differently.

But sometimes, we need a reminder of what’s possible through the experience of someone else.

Today, let’s learn from author R.L. Stine and see how two choices he made grew his career as a writer.



Now, if you aren’t familiar with R.L. Stine’s work, he is most famous for his Goosebumps

series of horror novels targeted to children. I was curious about how he got to be so successful, and I found that out when I watched him share his story on YouTube.



TIP FOR AWESOME READERS: Want to watch how R.L. Stine got his break into writing? See the video at the end of this post!




Before he found success in writing children’s horror books, Stine wrote a lot as a child. As he grew up and finished college, Stine worked at an agency in New York City writing made-up interviews of celebrities. Soon after, he landed another role at a humor magazine. After that, he had a meeting with a publisher, and it changed everything.

The publisher asked Stine to try his hand at writing something scary, and he came back with a novel called, “Blind Date,” which went on to be his first encounter with writing success.

From R.L. Stine’s career journey, I believe there are two lessons we can learn to grow in our work. Here they are.



Lesson #1 — It’s Okay to Be “In-Process”

The biggest lesson I see for us from R.L. Stine’s journey is that our best work often comes from a long-term process, not a one-time, planet-aligning opportunity.

Remember—Stine didn’t start out writing scary stories. No, that only happened long after he was writing as a child, and then at his work opportunities in New York. He stayed committed to his craft, kept working, and then an opportunity came.

We’re wise to learn it’s okay to be in process, because each step along the way is developing us more and more.


Lesson #2 — Work to Meet A Need

The final lesson I believe we can learn from R.L. Stine’s writing success is we should work to meet a need, specifically the needs of others. This isn’t easy to do, because it asks a lot of us.

To learn this career lesson, we must choose to take on a new attitude, and no one can do this for us.

Working to serve the needs of other people is something we intentionally develop over time. We choose this again and again, day-in and day-out. As we do, rumblings of change happen, and our work changes for the better.

When we work to meet the needs of others, it draws people in. They want to know what we are about. That brings more opportunity for us to use our gifts and strengths to serve them. We seek to meet a need rather than serve our ego. It’s an ongoing cycle that leads to the truest form of success.



In our age of distraction, we can still make wise career decisions.

Here’s the truth for us today — in our work, we need to be okay being “in-process.” Remember what being in-process did for R.L. Stine. It gave him space to grow in his craft as a writer, it provided for his daily needs, and it eventually led him to profound success.

Be patient, work a process, and see the results come.

Second, work to meet the needs of others. You’ll become a better version of you, and your work will be better. All of that because you’ve changed your outlook and chosen to serve others with your gifts rather than serving yourself.

And now, the hope — doing work that matters will involve both of these lessons. If we’re in process of developing our craft and serving other people, in time, we will see positive results.

And, to think, all of that insight from the guy who gave us Goosebumps...



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Resources In This Post:

VIDEO: “My First Big Break - R.L. Stine”

**Thanks to the folks at Media Bistro for sharing this first on YouTube**

The Power of Friends — Perspective

  Last week on the blog, I wrote about how important it is to live a life filled with true, authentic friends. I also said those friends positively impact your work. If you want to start reading there, click here. If you want skip that and jump right in, keep reading.



  In last week’s post, I laid the foundation by saying your best work comes when you have true, authentic friendships. But today, you’ve reached the next step in your life-with-friends journey. Today, you need to know friendships help you do your best work because of one reason — friends give you a proper perspective. Now, there may two questions buzzing in your head after reading that:

  1. How could friends help me?
  2. What’s wrong with my perspective, anyway?

  Well, I’ll do my best to tell you my answers to these questions. Let’s get started.



  Friends help you and I maintain a proper perspective because life is messy and we get in our own way. Life being what it is — with its ups, downs, questions, and concerns — put us in dire need of a proper perspective. Often, we need someone else to help us sort out the tangled mess of our emotions, all so that we can remember the truth about our situation. That’s what a good friend can do. They can help you move past what’s messy and remember the truth of who you are and what you’re facing.


That’s what a good friend can do — help you move past what’s messy and remember the truth of who you are and what you’re facing. “ 


  We all need friends in our corner to help us remember the truth. But more than that, we need good, authentic friends.

  Take a moment and imagine your core group of friends. I mean your ride-or-die friends. Got ‘em in your mind? Great. Those are the ones you want by your side in the midst of life happening to you. If all you have are the flaky friends, the no-show, only-want-something-from-you friends, you have some work to do! To do your best work and live your best life, fill your life with friends who are for you being at your best. Fill your life with friends who want you to succeed, friends who genuinely care for you. Anything less won’t cut it when you’re a mess of emotions and struggle. And believe me, I have faced struggle myself and had friends to help me out of it.



  I mentioned earlier how I know about needing friends because of personal experience, and I do. I am naturally an introvert, so I can get into a rut of doing life all by myself. Now while it’s good I’m introverted and there are strengths associated with that, last week’s post still applies to me — I’m at my best when I’m doing life with other people. I am still learning to build a deep bench of good, authentic friends. One of those friends for me is my friend Roger.



  Roger and I first met when I was in a two-year church internship, and he was their Facilities Director. Roger and I seemed to hit off, probably we had the same gentle, caring personality, and we started to get together once a month. Since then, Roger and I have both moved on from those roles. He’s now retired, and now we get together every few months. When I was in- between jobs earlier this year, Roger always wanted to know how my job search was going, and more importantly, how I was doing. He was a source of hope for me in those uncertain days. And you know what? Having Roger in my corner helped me be that much more diligent in my job search. Because Roger was there, I kept going, when on my own I would have given up.



  Here’s the truth — for you to do your best work, you need someone in your life like Roger was for me. You need a good, caring friend who’s out for your success. Friends can be a powerful force in your life, if you let them be. They can be a force for good or for bad. Aim for caring friends.

  And now, the hope — good, caring friends are only a coffee meeting or a phone call away. Just reach out! On the hard days, you will be glad to have them by your side. We are relational beings, made to do life with others.

  If you want to make wise career decisions, embrace the gift that good, authentic friendships can be.



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