Journaling for Success
It's What Great Leader Do!
Have you noticed that all the famous, admired leaders write an autobiography or a book about leadership?Amazing how they seem to recall those hundreds of stories in so much specific detail. Or perhaps it's not amazing, but a simple case of keeping a journal.What is interesting is that leaders who keep a journal are vastly more likely to be admired leaders than those who do not keep a journal. And the latter aren't ever famous.
You only learn when you review and reflect on your failures and successes. Journaling is the single, most powerful, easiest means of ensuring that you develop your leadership daily
You'll learn what happens in your brain when you review or reflect on something that occurs and how you can use this hack successfully to assist your own learning and developmentAt the end, there is a template for you to put this hack into practice in your life.
After just a few days of keeping your journal, you will quickly begin to change unwanted behaviours and reinforce those that you wish to keep. Discipline in continuing will be hugely beneficial. OutlineSo maybe you don't want to be famous, but I'm pretty certain that you would like to be admired. Then write a journal.In my coaching practice, those leaders who keep a journal of their leadership journey accelerate their careers between 5 and 10 times those who resist journal keeping. After 5 years, they earn 8 times as much! They have typically climbed 3 seniority levels. They have happier, more stable marriages. Their children score better in tests and exams! They are also less stressed.Now, we have been unable to causally link journal keeping with success, but the correlation is a little too powerful to ignore.
What if you ignore this advice?
Leadership develops daily, not in a day. John C. Maxwell.
How often have you smacked yourself on the forehead with a “duh” as you realised that you already knew the answer to something, or that there was a better way to do what you just did?Whether you smack yourself literally or metaphorically, but I'm guessing that it's more than once or twice.Your brain is like a muscle. If you don't use it, it starts to atrophy and waste away. And just like a muscle, you use it more, and it grows and develops. When you deliberately learn and repeat things, your brain remembers more and recalls information more readily.If you don't journal, you're not repeating, reviewing and reflecting on what happens in your life. So only those memories that are most highly charged emotionally (good or bad) are most readily accessed and recalled, appropriate or not. And your behaviour is likely to default to whatever you got away with last time. Maybe that's the best thing to do. Only you will know that.
What happens in the brain when you journal?
There's a fabulous connection between writing and your retention of information. In large part, it appears that when we write, we are drawing words on paper that must engage our thinking brain, memory, emotions and physical motor skills. It's a demanding activity on the brain and one that requires focus. It's nigh on impossible to write and do something different at the same time. It's why texting and driving is so deadly. Focus is demanding but also very useful for deliberate learning.When we write a journal, we're deliberately seeking instances in memory and translating them into a coherent, sense making scenario or story. That is, we are reflecting on what happened, why and with whom and making sense of it. We also review what was good and what was not so good about that activity. Which attaches emotions to the memory. Writing promotes comprehension and retention of information.Meantime, as we reflect, review and write, we are repeating a revised version of the events and attaching the emotions to that event in memory terms. The more powerful the emotions, the more readily that memory will be available to us in the future.When we learn something, synapses fire and make connections. By repeating those same connection making processes, we make the connections stronger. Our neurons grow and change to adapt and make access to repeated memories and more emotionally charged memories with the strongest connections — which makes them more readily accessible.In short, journaling is a process of being deliberately mindful in reflection of recent events, making sense of them and considering alternative courses of action for improvement. The process of journaling is helping you remember significance from otherwise mundane matters and drawing out lessons from your experience fresh in your life and mind. All of which makes you better at remembering when you need to remember and being able to quickly consider alternative courses of action to apply to current or future situations and choose the best available option.
So, my advice: Start keeping a journal. Today. And this is how:
What’s Better Today? is both the singular most powerful thing you can do to change your own life and a whole lot of fun you can have with other people.When you are asked to review your own performance, it is more than 85% likely that you will focus on the negative aspects. You are well aware of the things that you do less than well.If I asked you about what happened this week. You could easily regale all the negative things about work, your boss, your staff, your life. But what did you do this week that was good?The world is filled with bad news. Things are not going as well as they could – whether it’s the economy, a scandal, a disaster. Good news rarely hits the headlines. In the same way, criticising ourselves is easy. Edifying (building up) ourselves truthfully is more difficult.And it is important that you are truthful to yourself. This is not that great work of fiction you create when you apply for a new job. It’s the things in your life that are better today than they were yesterday.So what’s better today? Tell me three things that are better today than they were yesterday for you.
Most people do, and I wish you could see your face as you tried to answer it.So try this instead: Ask yourself two questions:
What did you learn?
What did you enjoy?
Now, you’re getting somewhere. Simply use “what’s better today?” as shorthand for these two questions.If you would like to have some fun with this, the next person you meet today ask them “what’s better today?”It’s common practice to greet people with variations of “How are you?” Most of the time you’ll hear “OK” or “Good, thanks.” Occasionally you get an organ recital: “Well, my legs been playing up and my back is aching, my tummy was upset, and I have a headache…” Did you really want to know? There are many people you know who readily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.Instead, greet everyone with “What’s better today?” Watch the response. Encourage them with the two questions if needed (What did you learn yesterday? What did you enjoy yesterday?) Keep doing it, people around you will look forward to seeing you. You will light up the room when you walk in. People will be drawn to you as a positive light in an otherwise dark world. And you’ll feel good. You will be one of the few who is always snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
A journal is simply a Self-review
On a daily basis. Ask yourself “what’s better today?”. Note down 3 things (or more) that you enjoyed or learned or things you did to change AND 1 thing you want to improve AND overall what you are doing well.
Write it down. And speak it to yourself.
You are giving yourself a feedback sandwich. Nourishment for your learning and growth.Write it down in your journal daily. Go through it once a week, then once a month, then once a quarter, then once a year.
When you do this, remember to keep ACTionable notes:
A — Apply -s omething you want to apply or continue applying in your lifeC — Change - something you want to changeT — Teach - something you want to or should teach othersThis will re-affirm your learning and growth and show you when and how things actually changed for you… then you can teach others what you did for them to learn and grow. Maybe even write your memoirs.If you take nothing else from this coaching. Take this, please. Test it out this week. Just one week and see what happens.The Journal Template is simple and straightforward:
What's Better Today? Journal Template
What three (or more) specific things have I done well? (What have I learned? What have I enjoyed?)What is the ONE thing I could do that would have the greatest effect on my performance now?Overall what am I doing well?