Starting a Leader’s Journal can be a great way to foster your creativity and innovation. The idea comes from Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From” where he discusses how the great thinkers of the Enlightenment Period would keep “commonplace books” for recording their thoughts, observations about the world and the ideas of others that they found interesting.
Enhancing Creativity with a Handwritten Journal
My handwritten journal is where I really get in touch with who I am and the kind of ideas that I want to foster. I don’t store a lot of information like facts and figures in here, but it is where I capture the attitudes and themes that I want to bring forth every day. This is where I do my daily practice of writing down each morning what I am grateful for and the things I want to achieve every day. This is not in the sense of a “to-do list” (although I have one of those as well) but more of the kinds of behavior I want to remind myself to exhibit each day. Some examples are:
- Living according to my core values and truth
- Letting my true personality shine through
- Being open to what the universe is trying to teach me today
That may sound a little new-age and touchy-feely but I’ve found since I started recording this practice in my handwritten journal that these attitudes come easier each day and help put me in a more creative flow throughout the day where ideas come to the front of my mind much easier. A key part of this daily practice is also reviewing at the end of the day how much I connected with these attitudes and if there is anything I would have done differently. Finally, I just kind or review any other ideas I may have written in the journal because that’s where I chose to get them down instead of using one of my other tools.
Enhancing Creativity with Evernote
Evernote is probably the tool I use most throughout the day to capture ideas into my Leader’s Journal that I want to follow up on. It’s so easy to screenshot or bookmark something with Evernote (literally a few mouse clicks) that I’m able to create a great visual reminder of websites, blog posts or issues and ideas that I can use to create my own content on the subject later on. As I review things I’ve captured in Evernote later on, it helps me to draw connections between those ideas and include my own thoughts to build a new, bigger and better idea.
Evernote is not just great for connecting ideas, but also with people. I use my leader’s journal to follow up with people I meet whether that’s in person, online or otherwise and Evernote is the primary tool I use to capture their contact information. #FollowFriday on Twitter is a really good example. When I have a great conversation or interaction with someone on Twitter throughout the week, I screenshot their info in Evernote and send out #FollowFriday tweets on Friday mornings including all of the great people I met that week.
Enhancing Creativity with Article Readers
Another tool that makes up a significant part of my Leader’s Journal is article readers like Feedly and Flipboard. This is how I curate the content for myself that I want to read and share with others. Apps like these are a great way to not only become more expert on the topics you feel are important to keep up with in your primary field, but also on things that you enjoy or are passionate about. You’d be surprised how often an idea from one of your hobbies or side ventures can grow into a solution to a problem in your job. My business is leadership so I subscribe to a lot of blogs and other media sources about leadership and management, but I also read a lot of things about social media and marketing so I can reach and help more people, as well as about art, science and relationships to help me bring good ideas from those worlds into my coaching efforts. These tools make it easy for me to gather content that I think is beneficial, save what I want for later and also share with others to start a dialogue and collaborate to bring in other perspectives and foster more creative ideas.
Enhancing Creativity through Social Media
Sharing is Caring, or so the saying goes. The same is true when it comes to your Leader’s Journal. You’ll definitely get benefit from your journal by pulling together and reviewing all of the great things you put in it, but you’ll really see more gains when you share your ideas with others and bring in alternate perspectives on your thoughts. Using your social media accounts to share items that you think others would find interesting is a great way to do this. It’s easy, convenient and potentially reaches everyone you are connected with on social media. It’s really important to include your own thoughts on what you’re sharing so that others can give you feedback on your ideas and help make them even stronger. Encouraging people to comment can bring in thoughts that enhance your ideas that you may never have considered unless you had shared.
It’s important that your Leader’s Journal not just become a black hole where you dump ideas, thoughts and things you find interesting, never to seen again. Another repository of information that you never look at again will not help you make the kind of creative leaps called “slow hunches” that Johnson describes in his book. Taking some time to really sit down with your journal and look back at your thoughts and ideas in a reflective manner will start to spark those circuits in your brain that will start to put together those “slow hunches”.
One last piece of advice: If you’re not sure if you should include something in your Leader’s Journal, trust your instincts and put it in anyway. You may not know why something that you put in your Leader’s Journal is important to you. Just go ahead and put it in there, you can always take it out later, but it will be much harder to find
Tell us in the comments what tools you’ve built your Leader’s Journal around and the kinds of things you include in it.