Learn more from your experiences by keeping a journal

February 13, 2018 | Writing

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal pointed out that “All of humanity’s problems come from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” He didn’t mean sitting quietly in front of a laptop responding to emails. The best thinking comes from structured reflection — and the best way to do that is keeping a personal journal.

Dan Ciampa (pictured), author of a recent online article for the Harvard Business Review notes that he started keeping a journal when he took over a manufacturing research, software and consulting firm. He was very young, his team was in crisis facing a challenging market, and he wasn’t sure who he could rely on. So he kept a journal through 12 years as chairman and CEO and have since recommended it to people moving into any senior position for the first time.

Whether you’re a senior executive or not, there is strong evidence that replaying events in our brain is essential to learning. While the brain records and holds what takes place in the moment, the learning from what one has gone through — that is, determining what is important and what lessons should be learned — happens after the fact during periods of quiet reflection. This where keeping a journal can pay big dividends.

Ciampa, now a former CEO, is an adviser to boards and chief executives, and the author of five books. Click here to read his Harvard Business Review article, and you too might find the power of writing has broader applications than you might think.

Mike Consol teaches public speaking, PowerPoint presentation skills and business writing workshops to companies and business professionals. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 925-449-1040.