America’s Leadership Expert : Encouragement

Clay Stairs: This is America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs with Tulsa Business Leadership and Podcast number 51, Becoming Immortal, the Power of Journaling. This is Part One in a two-part series where we’re going to be talking about here at Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership. The Power of Journaling and keeping track of your path, actually becoming immortal on this thing.

One of the things that I’ve discovered as I’m talking with business owners and entrepreneurs across the country as America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs with Tulsa Business Leadership, I’m finding over-and-over that so few people actually keep track of their path.

In my head, as I’m interpreting this, it looks like people are not processing their life as it happens. They’re just kind of taking it. They’re learning, yes. We are learning lessons along the way, but unfortunately, we’re not keeping track of those lessons. We can tend to have to learn those lessons over-and-over-and-over.

At America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership, I started my journaling process back in 1988. It’s been forever ago. I was actually on a cross country trip in my little blue Honda Accord, a little sedan, and I was heading from Tulsa, Oklahoma, up to Boston, Massachusetts.

Along the way, I realized, I was about 23-years-old, just out of college, and I realized, “Man, I am on a vision quest. I need to keep track of this path. I need to start writing things down.” I stopped in Washington, DC and grabbed my very first journal and started back in 1988. It was probably in October, I believe, of 1988, was when I started keeping track of my path through journaling.

I’ve been journaling now for almost 30 years. The things that I have been able to keep track of, the lessons that I’ve learned, the experiences that I’ve gone through. It is truly amazing, if you can imagine going back over the last 30 years of your life, if you had kept track.

What would that look like? The experiences, the learning, the emotion, the struggles, the difficulties, the navigating, how you got over things, how you didn’t get over things and so on.

At America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership, what I want to do with the leaders that we train, with the business owners and entrepreneurs that we coach, I want to help them keep track of their path as well.

In this session, what I want to do, is share with you nine different steps, nine things that I have learned through 30 years of journaling. Just nine points that I’ve found, looking back, if I’m talking to somebody that is just beginning their journey in journaling, these are some things that you want to be aware of, because they can easily derail you if you get caught in these traps.

Again, I’ve learned these because I’ve done every one of them and learned that they’re either not very beneficial or do it this way because this is much more beneficial. I want to go ahead and dive in here with Clay Stairs and Tulsa Business Leadership into what I have learned about journaling.

Step number one, what we’re going to say here is, don’t worry about the back story. I am not a journaler every day. I’m not the guy that gets up and does journaling in the morning every single day before I sculpt, write poetry and write some lyrics to some music. That’s not me.

There are times where I may go a week or two without journaling. I have found that if I attempt when I pick up my journal after not being it for a while, if I attempt to try to catch up in the journaling, kind of, “Well, here’s what’s gone on the last two weeks.” I can find that I can write easily for 30 minutes to an hour, just catching up. Now, I am caught up, and I’m tired of writing.

I want to encourage you, don’t worry about the back story. Just write about today. If there is something important that you want to write about in the past, that is fine, but I want to encourage you, don’t feel like you’ve got to catch up. You’re not writing a novel here. Okay? You’re just keeping track of your path.

Number two on the list of things that I have learned with America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership is write for you and not somebody else. When I first started writing in my journal, I was primarily picturing somebody reading my journal. As I wrote, I was writing as if someone were going to read it and that limited, or I guess that gave me one perspective of how to write.

It kept me from being able to write some things, as you can imagine, and even when I was writing certain things, I had a specific perspective that didn’t necessarily help me learn a lot, because I was too busy teaching, if that makes sense, because I was writing to someone else. I just want to encourage you to write for you and not someone else.

Number three, your journaling will come in cycles. Again, a lot of times, people, one of the reasons why people resist journaling is because they don’t have time. They don’t feel like they’ve got time every day to write. Then, even people that do have time to write every day, they go, “I don’t have that much to write. I’ve kind of run out.”

I just want to encourage you that your journaling will come in cycles. There may be a cycle of writing every day, but then there also may be a week or two or a month between the times that you write in your journal. That is okay. Okay? Your journaling will come in cycles.

America’s Leadership Expert Number four on the what I’ve learned from my journaling is, yes, it is a risk to write things down. This again is probably one of the top three struggles that people have when they think about writing in a journal is, their fear of lack of privacy. If I write it down, somebody could read it. My wife, my husband, my kids, somebody could read it.

They get really concerned about writing things down and as a result, they never do write it down. They just keep it in their head along with billions of other bits of information.

For me, there’s really no easy way out of this. Yes, you can lock this thing down. You can do it on your computer and have a specific password for it, if you would like. You could write in an actual book, in a journal, and lock it up in a safe where only you have the combination. That is fine as well.

I have kind of worked through that. I’ve talked to my wife. I’ve talked to my kids and said, “Hey, this is my journal. Don’t read it.” We did have a situation, I will say this, we did have a situation. This was back when my wife and I were still dating where she did read my journal.

What do you know? She got hacked off. She got mad because she didn’t like what she was reading. She came and was going, “I can’t believe you did this and you did this and that and the other thing.” I’m looking at her and going, “Don’t read the journal. I told you not to read it. I’m not going to apologize for the things that I wrote. This is my journal. If it’s going to make you upset, don’t read it.”

I just wanted to toss that out that it is a risk to writing things down. If you have a real aversion to this, then that again, may be something for you to check into. All right? Why there is such a fear in taking that risk that somebody else may read something.

Our next step here is number five. Step number five, we have connecting rewards to writing. Man, I love when I get a new journal, when I start a new journal, I’m actually on journal number 52. I use just a little hardbound sketchbook that I buy all the time at Barnes and Noble, a little black cover with blank pages. I don’t like lines, but that’s all personal stuff for me.

Your journal can look anyway you want it to look, but I love to attach rewards as I get a new journal. I usually buy two at a time and I will buy special pens because I just love pens. I mean, go into an office supply store and I’m loving it. I usually buy special pens. I usually have special places where I’m writing. I, a lot of times, will have coffee and set up my place. All of those are rewards to encourage me to write.

For a long time, I loved writing in coffee shops. That was just kind of a cool thing. That’s where I went to write. At America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership, this again would be another thing that I would encourage you is to set up a reward system for your writing, whether it be where you write, the type of equipment you have, the tools that you have, what you listen to, and so on, while you are writing.

Then, number six here, is let it out. If you don’t have anything that needs to get out of you, then you may not need to write. Once again, you don’t want to necessarily set yourself up for disappointment and set yourself up for failure. I’m going to write every day for an hour. Okay, well after a week, you may be tapped out. You may not have anything else that’s got to get out of you.

Go ahead and allow yourself some space between journaling times so that as you are interpreting your life and processing your life, it actually gets to a point where, “Hmmm, I need to journal about that. I really need to sit down and get that out of my head so I can move on and not get caught in the cycle of just thinking about this thing.” Again, this is another great thing for you to consider. Let it out.

Then, we get to number seven. Don’t sweat the grammar. Oh, is that the right spelling? Oh, I don’t know. Should I use a period or a semicolon here? What goes with this? Don’t worry about it. Again, you are not writing a novel. You are not writing for public. You are writing for profit. For profit. You are writing for personal reasons.

What you want to do here, is just don’t worry about the spelling. Don’t worry about the grammar and the structure and all that. Just, as we said in number six, just get it out. If you start stressing over the grammar and over your spelling, it just slows down the process.

Number eight, this is a great one here. I love this. I remember learning this lesson quite a while after I had started journaling, but I want to encourage you to leave Dr. Phil out of it. Okay? At America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership, this is one of the things that I find over-and-over with people as they begin to consider personal growth. Their focus is primarily on answers rather than on the questions that you’re asking.

Again, when I say, “Leave Dr. Phil out of it.”, this isn’t necessarily when you are writing in your journal. This isn’t necessarily all about finding answers. I’ve got to know. Why is this going on? What’s happening? What’s going on? It’s not about the answers. It’s much more important for you to discover your questions. Again, this is not necessarily a way that we are wired naturally, as we come through our educational process, where answers are the key things.

Out there in life, as I have found, as I have led and mentored and walked with so many different people through seasons of their life and through transition, as America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs Tulsa Business Leadership, I have found that the most important thing for you to do is keep track of your questions, not just keep track of your answers. Answers are important, but questions are where you really discover how a person thinks.

Then, finally number nine, I just want to encourage that when you do take the time to journal, your brain has to slow down because you can’t write as fast as you think. You’ve got to slow down and as you begin to slow down and process, you will find that God will show up between the lines. God will begin to speak to you.

As Napoleon Hill says, “The great unseen hand wisdom will begin to descend upon you.” You will be writing, and all of a sudden, you’ll look at what you wrote and you went, “Holy cow! That’s pretty good stuff.”, because you have slowed down and actually allowed yourself to process.

Again, these are the nine things that I have learned through journaling that many times can keep people from pushing forward and fulfilling their desire to journal. With America’s Leadership Expert Clay Stairs and Tulsa Business Leadership, this is Podcast number 51.

Clay Staires