Outstanding Leaders keep Journals

“Journaling on real paper with a real pen seems like a throwback to a different era. Until you try it. For leaders, finding that calm place where you purposely take the time to reflect is a powerful antidote to the rush-rush-rush of the rest of the day.” — Joel Barker, Futurist, film maker, and author of video “Innovation at the Verge”

I have been talking about journaling during my seminars on authentic leadership for almost 2 years now, it has been a great experience for me. What surprised me is that many leaders treat journaling as something they “know they should do” but rarely ever take up the habit. And if they do, it’s only something they do for a short period of time. It doesn’t have to be this way, especially once you learn about the amazing benefits of journaling. Some thoughts on Journaling:

  • It is not a diary
  • It is private property
  • A powerful tool for self growth and reflection. Writing it down makes it stick
  • It is a place to:
    Problem solve
    Brainstorm
    Release painful and negative emotions
    Clear up confusion in your mind

According to author Nancy Adler “Gaining access to your own insight isn’t difficult; you simply need to commit to reflecting on a daily basis.” In a recent Harvard Business Review article on journaling she says leaders should “Ask yourself a trigger question, and capture your response.”

These are some of Nancy’s favorite journaling questions:

How am I feeling right now?
How am I feeling about my leadership?
What deserves my highest-quality attention…
in my leadership?
in my life?
in the world?
What is the most outrageous (or fun or novel) idea I’ve heard in the last 24 hours? What do I love about it?
What is the most exciting initiative I’ve heard about this week that is happening outside of my industry or in another part of the world?
What contributed most to my happiness this week (or to the happiness of my people)? How can I have more happiness in my life?

Journaling tips:

  • It’s Not a “Word” document-spelling errors, punctuion or scribbles are okay, only you will read it.
  • Use pen and dedicated journal. Norbet Platt reminds us that “The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”
    Make it a Two Minute Drill-Keep it short, you are not writing a novel. By doing that, it may allow it to seem less tedious.
    Make it a ritual-Do it the same time each and every day.

//dan
Dan Elder
@dandotelder