Almost every day begins with a quiet place, a hot coffee and some intentional reflection. Excerpts of my thoughts, feelings and hopes are scrawled and scratched into a notebook. The journal is cheap, it cost a few bucks at most. But it’s the best investment I make in my leadership.
Let me tell you some of the returns you can expect if you decide to make journaling part of your daily ritual.
Journaling Slows Down Life
Ice hockey is the only sport I follow. Key plays can happen so quickly that their true significance can only be seen in a slo-mo replay. Journaling is a form of replay.
In real time, actions and reactions can unfold at a pace too rapid for mindful evaluation. Journaling enables us to go back over important interactions. It enables us to identify the personal strengths and weaknesses that fuelled our response. It helps us give thought to why we have felt threatened. Journaling helps us see the opportunities to advance our convictions and objectives. It is like doing a personal SWOT analysis.
Journaling nurtures a self-awareness that equips me to be a better leader. It slows life down so I can understand what is happening in my mind, heart and soul.
Journaling Helps Formulate Goals
About every three months or so I block off at least a morning, more if I can swing it. I reserve a quiet room at a nearby retreat centre. The agenda is simple. I begin by reading my journal entries since the last offsite review. What kinds of things have been distracting me? What contexts trigger difficulties? Are opportunities converging toward something new? How has my faith been challenged? Does my life have the rhythm I am seeking?
I summarize these insights on a fresh page in my journal. I then evaluate the data. Is the trajectory on target with my leadership goals? Where do I need to make adjustments? Do I need to address a nagging distraction? Is there an objective that needs to be reprioritized? Do I feel compelled to take a new step?
From this reflection, I make quarterly goals. I record them in Evernote. The ideal is to review them often and certainly to reference them at the next offsite.
Journaling Enhances Learning
A well-stocked buffet overwhelms me. To consume it all is a battle I never win. Now my strategy is to fill a plate with choice items, all in small portions. I can return and repeat if hunger persists.
As leaders, we face a buffet of information and input. It is more than I can consume. Journaling is my way of filling my plate with choice items. I muse about a particular book I am reading, cultural shifts I am witnessing and my sense of God’s personal leading.
My journal entries are not summaries but raw interactions. This kind of journaling is a means to learning. It helps me make sense of new information, acquire new skills, and form new convictions.
A Few Other Resources
Grab a cheap notebook, roll the replay, reflect, write and grow your leadership.
Here are some additional resources:
- How to Become More Consistent in Your Daily Journaling by Michael Hyatt
- To Be An Effective Leader Keep A Leadership Journal by Henna Inam via Forbes
- The Multifaceted Benefits of Keeping a Mindfulness Journal by Brianna Johnson via Lifehack