A few days before Fathers Day back in June, I was doing some research for an article and I came across this thesis that used journaling as a research component for self-discovery in youth football coaches.
While in this study journaling was a tool and not the primary outcome, I would have to say that as I glanced through the article many of the benefits of journaling came through very clearly to me.
Benefits of Journaling for Leaders
As I have worked with my coaching clients over the years, I have recommended the leader development strategy to so many. Journaling is nothing more than taking some time to be reflective and to write down how you observe yourself showing up.
Because the lack of self-awareness is so prevalent in leadership, journaling is a key way to document what you think and how you feel about what is going on in your world. It really can be used as a stake in the ground to preserve your thoughts and emotions on any given day across a number of circumstances.
Off the top of my head I came up with my top 5 reasons that every leader should journal:
Self-awareness: Leaders need to be reflective of how they show up in different contexts and what triggers their emotions. No matter how well we think we know ourselves, we can always learn something new upon reflection.
Manage Stress: There is nothing like writing when it comes to lowering levels of stress. Perhaps even better than writing is visual journaling or what Mrs. Carlson, my second grade teacher, would have called “drawing.” In a 2010 study with medical students, Amanda Mercer found a reduction in stress and anxiety when medical students kept a visual journal of how they were feeling.
Gain Clarity: I find that when I am faced with issues that have multiple inputs and layers of complexity there is nothing like writing or drawing to help me sort things out. Just taking the time to clear my mind and put it on paper (or my remarkable tablet) really helps me to clarify what it is that I am even having to decide.
Prioritize: Life, especially in our Western world, can get really crazy with so many priorities that some leaders find it hard to decide to turn right or left. Journaling can help you prioritize what is important and to stay focused because you have it written down. You put a metaphorical stake in the ground and now have something to come back to.
Control Impulses: The other real benefit of keeping a journal is having a place to go to before you act. I like to just go to my journal before I agree or commit to something so that I have that ability to really not be impulsive. Since I can be a bit of a people pleaser at times, my journal is fast becoming that place I turn to before I say yes to a project I should be saying no to.
Recall that it was a few days before Father’s Day when I was reviewing this article I mentioned above. Then Father’s Day happened. And for Father’s Day my kids bless me with, you guessed it, a journal.
But not just any journal. This is one is called StoryWorth.
As an orientation, here is how StoryWorth works.
Every week I get an email journal prompt on a memory I have from my past.
All I do to journal is reply to the email I get. I can write as much or as little as I want on the topic. Usually two or three paragraphs in my case.
These journal entries are then saved for me and then my kids are are going to turn my journaling into a book.
At he end of 52 weeks, I will have a book of memories to cherish for years to come.
So I guess I would add a #6 to my list of reasons that leaders need to journal: Because your leadership story IS worth reading.
Want to know more about StoryWorth? You can click here to get $10 off your own StoryWorth Journal.