Whenever I can, I encourage leaders to maintain a leadership journal. While I lived and led in Italy, I served as director of leadership development for our organization. One of my first budgetary actions was to buy a leather journal for every leader within our organization. I exhorted them to keep it near them so that they could record leadership gems whenever they came upon them.
I have been doing this for many years now. This is not the same as a normal journal that chronicles my life or stands as a record of sermon notes. This is specifically a leadership journal that contains my own thoughts on leadership, the thoughts of others on leadership, observations from a wide variety of stimuli, Scripture references about leadership, quotes–anything I deem worthy of further thought and reflection towards application. If possible, I always encourage people to purchase a physical journal instead of keeping one virtually on their computer or tablet. I believe there is something valuable to the reflection and learning process in writing it down-pen in hand, hand to the paper, in a specialized journal. I offer these four motivations as to why you should do this too:
1. Keeping a leadership journal places you in the posture of a learner. I firmly believe that the day a leader quits learning is the day that their leadership platform begins to erode. Stay humble and keep learning. Your journal at the ready allows you to observe and learn from many different sources all the time.
2. Keeping a leadership journal allows you the rich opportunity to reflect on and process your observations. I know this is obvious-but maintaining a journal will keep you from forgetting. And how many times have you and I made a critical observation that we wanted to ponder later, only to forget and never be rewarded again. Also, I have seen many times how the recording of one seminal thought has led to a flurry of other thoughts, principles and actions.
3. Keeping a leadership journal better insures that you get to true application in your leadership life. There is something about recording one’s thoughts that paves the way for greater understanding and execution. A thing written is a thing half done. If you can work out your thoughts on paper then you are more likely to actually live them out when the opportunity arises. As long as we are alive we have the opportunity to improve our leadership. A journal can aid you immensely in getting to change.
4. Keeping a leadership journal begins to build a reservoir of material that you can share with others. When I have been asked to speak or write about leadership I almost always begin by looking at my leadership journal for material. This is where I have recorded, processed, and worked out my observations on leading. My journal is the seedbed of principles that I can pass along to other leaders. It is my way of being a blessing to others-in a well thought out, coherent manner. By the way-this recorded material can also serve as great fodder for a leader mentoring relationship-in either direction.
If you have not done so yet-leader, go out and buy a small journal and keep it handy. Begin to record your regular leadership observations, conversations, thoughts, musings, Scripture-whatever will prompt you to think more deeply and apply more readily the leadership principles that will allow you to lead well.