Journaling gives leaders focus, mission

Journaling.  The one common characteristic of successful leaders everywhere in the world is that they write down their goals and best ideas.  There seems to be an energetic connection with thought processes and the low-tech pen to paper as if we are harnessing some universal wisdom.   Almost all of my client leaders have kept their thoughts, actions, and to-do lists in a daily diary or journal of some type. Only a few have felt journaling was something akin to a young girl’s diary or preferred to capture their thoughts in technology. All fine with me. Yet these days “pen to paper” and a time out for reflection is a disruptive idea, given our complete addiction to devices and inability to tune out the noise surrounding us.

Journaling allows leaders at any level to quiet their monkey mind – that runaway judge that dances between stimulus and response.  It allows leaders to gain self-awareness, organize their thoughts, build their mission, develop their principles and belief structures, and capture their dreams. I personally start my journals with a topic or question and then write into the inner knowing or wisdom that comes from beyond me and within me.

It is a big part of my process as an author. It helps me organize my thoughts and focus my attention on the ideas I want to convey. I convey the process in Zombies to Zealots: Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work! In this most recent book, I share a journal entry that captured a soul’s longing about getting quiet, listening to my own wisdom and surrendering the notion that I had to defer my wisdom, writing or ideas in order to play it safer.  The world we are working in needs us to be bolder and unleashed.

So here goes.  This is the entry about learning to Let It BE:


So the message is this:

This is a time for going within.

You may appear to be irresponsible by choosing to do nothing.

Or, by choosing to take a giant leap.

Let it be.

You may struggle trying to change things, situations, or people.

You may find you can only change yourself.

Let it be.

You may want to run back to something familiar when you glimpse the new.

Acknowledge that desire.

Let it be.

You may feel like your efforts as a leader, a parent, a change agent go unnoticed.

Let it be.

Love your teams, your children, and your colleagues wholeheartedly.

Go about the business of personal reflection and reawaken to who you were meant to be.

Then, make the invisible visible. Determine how visible you are willing to be.

Witness the reawakening in others.

And, let it be.

This is all for you to know and to do now.

Let me share some of my tips for effective journaling, with the objective of helping you grow as an individual and as a leader.

1. Be honest with yourself. No one is going to read this but you. You can be as direct and open as you want, which will allow you to identify your real objectives, your fears, your challenges, and your opportunities. Don’t hold back. It’s your life.

2. Be kind to yourself. A journey of self-discovery can be fraught with realizations we’re not always ready for, realizations about who we are and what we want that seem to come out of the blue. It’s ok. There are those who accurately point out that this can be an incredible healing process for some people, as they work through personal challenges. I agree. The bottom line is that there’s no rush to take immediate action. This is a thinking process, a method that allows us to consider our numerous options and how we feel about them. Take it as the learning and healing experience it is.

3.  Write every day. There’s nothing that improves our ability to communicate as learning our language through its constant use. We learn new ways of expressing emotion, conveying depth of meaning, sharing important ideas as we write. Even writing for five minutes a day is a benefit.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.