Leadership Gold: The Business Journal

A business journal is a place to record your thoughts and impressions about your work experiences, coworkers, and the related emotions. Learn how this tol can help you reach conclusions and create an action plan.


Self-Awareness Is Critical to Good Leadership

by M. Carolyn Miller

Self-awareness is critical to good leadership, according to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author best known for his work on emotional intelligence. The theory of emotional intelligence posits that good leaders know how to manage their emotions, and the emotions of others.

That ability is predicated on self-awareness. And there’s no better tool for that self-awareness than the business journal.

What Is a Business Journal?

A business journal is a place to record your thoughts and impressions about your work experiences, the coworkers you interact with, and the related emotions. In so doing, you will be able to understand those experiences, and yourself, better. You will also, invariably, reach some conclusions and determine logical next steps.

A business journal also offers a way to manage stress. By writing about an experience, and the feelings related to the experience, you process any emotions, reframe the experience in a larger context, and find meaning. Even the act of writing iteself can help reduce stress.

Many great leaders and thinkers have used journals throughout history to record data, sketch ideas for inventions or processes, work through emotions, and more. In the business context, they are used similarly.

There is no right or wrong way to keep a business journal. You can write on your computer, your iPad, or paper. What’s important is to take the time to do it regularly.

Begin by Setting the Stage Make a personal commitment to journal 15 minutes a day, and put that time on your calendar. Identify when you’ll journal, be it with your first cup of coffee before the workday begins or at the end of the workday.

Ideally, you should set aside the same time every day to create a journaling habit that is as critical to your workday as touching base with the team or checking email.

You also want to find a quiet place to journal where you won’t be interrupted. If you’re working from home, make it part of your early morning or evening ritual, when the house is quiet. If you’re at work, close your office door or take a break and go outside to write.

Start Writing

There are no rules about what to write in a business journal. It’s helpful, however, to use the journal as a tool for self-reflection. The questions below can help.

What is going on right now?

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel how you’re feeling.

Are you happy? Are you upset with a current work situation? Are you excited about how well the team is doing? Write about that, including your role in the feeling or experience.

What is going well?

Research is showing that people who count their blessings are happier. Do that here. What’s going well? What created that? How can you create more of that?

What is challenging?

What attitude, beliefs, or behaviors do you have that are contributing to the challenge? How can you change that for a better outcome?

What needs your attention?

The things that need our attention take up valuable mental space until they are resolved. Use your journal to do a “brain dump.” Record the issues that need to be solved and brainstorm solutions.

What is meaningful?

What about the day did you find meaningful? Who was especially kind or giving? Record that as a reminder of how fortunate you really are.

M. Carolyn Miller
M. Carolyn Miller is an award-winning freelance writer who designs and writes stories that inform, inspire, and transform. Visit cultureshape. com for more information.


Photo credits: Photographer/collection via Getty Images; filadendron/iStock via Getty Images



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