You just need to spare 15 minutes of your time daily practicing this to become a better leader
The path to becoming a better leader is a long and difficult trek. To help you in your journey, here is a 15-minute routine you can incorporate in your daily life - the practice of keeping a journal.
Last week, I shared the story of my friend Jay who had turned down a promotion because he felt he wasn't ready to lead others yet. After conveying the decision to his manager and the HR Department, he spend the next couple of months honing his leadership skills and putting himself into situations that leaders often face. Finally, after 18 months of focused and concentrated efforts, a more skilled and confident Jay took up the promotion and went on to lead his team to new heights.
When he called me up to share the good news, I asked him what was the most effective technique he had employed to achieve his goals. His answer might surprise you. He didn't attend fancy seminars or spend hours perusing verbose leadership books. Instead, he took dedicated fifteen minutes daily to writing in his journal. Yes, this simple-but-underrated habit is proven to help leaders become more effective and mindful in their everyday lives.
What can you journal about?
You can journal about everything and anything, actually. I have a friend who uses her journal as a food diary for being more mindful about the food she eats. Another acquaintance of mine uses his journal to perform daily 'brain dumps' for clarifying and organizing his thoughts, priorities, etc. better. Therefore, anybody can keep a journal for any purpose they wish to. If you, like Jay, are interested in keeping a journal for developing your leadership abilities, you can spend fifteen minutes daily writing down about your experiences as a leader.
Here are some of the things you can write about in your leadership journal:
- Strengths / Skills / Resources you are grateful for
- Areas / Projects you need to prioritize
- Reflect on your actions / behavior as a leader
- Introspect and write down about your 'highs' and 'lows'
- Analyze various 'causes' and 'effects'
- Intentions for the day
- Long Term Goals
- Leadership Vision
- Mentoring or Coaching Ideas / Insights
Benefits of Keeping a Journal as a Leader
Our brain, despite being a highly complex and smooth-functioning 'computer', is sometimes unreliable. Because our feelings, biases, and personality can affect our recollection of things and events, keeping a journal will help you write down stuff as they happen along with your thoughts, feelings and actions. You can revisit these at a later date to reflect on what you did right / wrong , what you can do better next time, how to prevent it from happening again, etc. Other benefits include:
- Greater clarity in your thoughts / feelings
- Increased mindfulness
- Improved accountability
- Reduced stress
- Higher emotional intelligence
- More accurate goal-tracking
- Gain new perspectives, ideas, insights, etc.
- Enhance positive thinking
How can I start?
The best thing about keeping a journal is that anybody can start at any time. All you need is a decent-quality notebook, writing materials, a quiet place, and fifteen minutes of undisturbed time. You can either journal at the start of your day or towards the end, depending on which works better for you. There is only one rule to follow (and it's not iron-clad either!) - don't share your journal with anyone else. It is your private collection of reflections.