When it comes to journaling and leadership the two have to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Writing down the actions of the day and recalling them at a later time is the main reason biographies of great military, political and business leaders are written. It is the exact same reason for you to journal your daily events. Document activities as they happen. Obviously, there are times you cannot go into specifics (to protect the privacy of all parties) however you can present enough information that when you need it, there it is. However, all of this is not possible if you do not have the right materials to do the right job.
• Always have writing materials.
Any leader that has been a great follower knows to always carry something to write with and something to write on is vital to your existence. Typically, that means carrying paper and pen. Unless you like remembering names, dates, and other information it is best that you carry that paper and pen(s) at all times. However, I have recently seen a disturbing trend: People writing important (critical) information on the palm of their hand.
I cannot understand why people would take such a chance. Yet, they seem to have no problem writing names on the palm of their hand and hoping they don’t sweat it away. Folks, don’t take a chance and smudge a name or a word, don’t take a chance of misspelling a word or running out of room to write. Make it part of your everyday carry (EDC) kit, have paper (notepad, note cards, journal) and pen or pens or pencil.
Having this will allow you to keep important information handy and within arm’s reach.
• Document Everything especially names, times, places, and events.
Now that you have something to write with and something to write on what do you do? You start writing, of course. Now you ask, but what do you write? Great question. If you have never written in a journal you start slow.
At first, just give the highlights. However, the highlights should include names, times, places, and events. Then as you get more comfortable with your writing you start including things like time of day, weather, and actual dialogue.
As leader, now it becomes even more important to document, chronicle, or whatever you want to call it, all your daily interactions no matter how mundane or important. Treat every interaction as the same. As anyone who has spent anytime managing people you have to document or it didn’t happen.
The ability to efficiently and effectively document your day will increase as you do it every day. Once you are effective and efficient, you will be able to describe and document situations with the best of them. That documentation will come in handy as you move along in your career or time as a leader.
• Refer to the past to create a new future.
Once you are well on your way to journaling or documenting your day-to-day adventures as a leader something unique starts to happen, you are building a library. A library of events, situations, and how you handled them. This library built from your daily journaling not only shows you what happened in the past but helps guide you in the present and the future.
When a situation arises and it is similar to something that happened in your past, you can quickly refer to your journal(s) and instantly you have a point of reference not only to help you figure out what to do but to ensure that as a manager you remain consistent.
Keep journaling, even when you think that life is boring. It is a great tool to show your kids or those you mentor that life is mostly boring but when it isn’t life can be a challenge. Future challenges will be in good company as you will have a resource, a recollection that allows you to use the past to address the present.