The best thought-leaders are, by nature, tweakers. They’re constantly experiencing life with a perspective of constant improvement. They believe, deep down, that everything can be improved—including themselves.

We all experience our careers in the context of our personal ambitions. Let’s face it: there’s no such thing as “just business”. It’s always personal, often emotional, and frequently challenging to our very core to succeed. There’s a reason they call it “making a living”: it makes your life.

A lot of us arrive at the office every morning to about 100 emails, a multitude of open projects, several office politics situations to iron out and who knows what else from home life that’s hanging on our shoulders. We try to keep up by sitting down at the desk and just plowing through it, and few of us realize that the way to get on top of the work load is not to complete the work load, but to complete ourselves. The more we know and understand ourselves, the more we can know and understand others, managing from a more constructive place and building systems and processes that extend beyond ourselves.

Just as Jack Welch said [paraphrasing] that one of the characteristics of greatness (vs. goodness) is that things no longer hinge on a single charismatic figure but instead on a foundational culture that allows everyone in the organization to perpetuate success, we need to be spending time on ourselves in order to ensure that our lives and efforts, ultimately, are about much more than ourselves.

Journaling is where that process begins. Journaling is dedicated time where we can focus on the things that are really in our way: not the workload, but why we’re unable to manage it. Not the employee we’re really struggling to manage, but why our motivations and theirs are not aligned. We can write our goals and aspirations down, write the obstacles that are preventing us from experiencing true breakthrough in those areas, and be able to look back, later, and see how far we’ve come.

You’d can’t give driving directions to someone without knowing where they are. And you can’t get somewhere specific without finding it on a map. Journaling is how we document where we are, and where we’re going. It keeps the most important things in front of us. If we don’t make time for it, nothing in daily life will create the opportunity. There’s always going to be another fire to put out, another level of perfection on a project that we could reach.

It’s clear what the implications are for your next presentation. When we speak to an audience, they’re rarely looking for the down-to-earth, how-to information alone. They want that paradigm shift, the big picture, the vision: they want an actualized, “meta” person to help them progress.

If we, as presenters, don’t take the time to develop that part of ourselves, we’ll never be able to deliver the kind of truly impactful presentations we really want to. We have to be growing on a level that few others grow on if we want to impact lives in a way that few others do. The more you journal and internalize and work through the inherent problems your audience is facing, the more value you’re going to bring to the table when you speak.

Question: When do you make time for growing on a deeper level?

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  • Holistic Children

    I like your point "The more we know and understand ourselves, the more we can know and understand others." I journal regularly as a way to clarify my thoughts and feelings, and find it a tremendous tool for growth. To answer your question, I make time each morning when I wake and before I go to sleep at night. Times of day I have learned to cherish. I enjoyed your comments and insights. I would be lost without my journal!


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