A number of other amateur writers and I have shared numerous thoughts on why we write, and moreover, have challenged our readers to do the same. From contributing to a community of practice, to writing as a means of learning, and forming your legacy, writing has its numerous benefits, both to your greater profession and to you personally.
I started my own writing and the 3×5 Leadership platform over 18 months ago under the premise of two ideas: 1) leader development occurs daily, not in a day, and 2) though my experiences are singular, the lessons from them certainly are not. With no real expectation that others would value, let alone read, my thoughts, I started to write in order to offer reflections from my experiences and recommended application to help others on their daily leader growth journey.
What Writing Has Done for Me
Realizing that my writing has helped others in their own leader development is an enormous joy for me. However, this summer, I’ve learned three new personal benefits that my writing offers me, which are necessary to my own leader development, and are relevant to you as well. Writing helps me:
- To clarify, complete, and articulate my thinking from experiences and personal reflection
- To archive my best ideas for future use or reference
- To hold me accountable; this form of public writing forces me to ensure my daily behavior is aligned with everything I share
In short, I don’t just write to help others learn, though that is a major source of encouragement; I actually write for me. As I continuously “collect the dots” through personal experiences and my self-study, and then “connect those dots” through deliberate reflection, I turn to creating a blog post to complete and articulate my ideas. Further, I often find myself returning to my archives page to reference previous posts in order to apply those ideas now in my current work or to brush up on reminders for my daily behavior. Finally, what I’ve published serves as my measuring stick of leader authenticity; it forces me to remain true to what I write and allows others to hold me accountable if I am not acting in-line with what I’ve written.
How Writing Has Helped Others: An Example
As an example, my colleagues and I attended a professional development discussion a few weeks ago with a US Army brigade commander whose Soldiers were supporting our Cadet Summer Training at West Point. It was a great discussion centered on being a field grade officer in the Army, but it seemed to resonate most with one of my close friends. In less than 48 hours following that talk, my friend produced a fantastic personal reflection piece, where he related the discussion topics to his education in strategic thinking from our graduate school program last year and how he and others can apply this new knowledge. His piece, and the process of creating it, allowed my friend to clarify and complete his thoughts and also archive them for the future. Finally, I challenged him to consider publishing the piece (which I hope to share it on 3×5 Leadership soon) and doing so will provide him leadership accountability, ensuring his daily behaviors as a leader support what he has written and shared. It’s been a joy to see my friend form his ideas into complete, well-articulated thoughts that offer value to others in the US Army; it’s easy to see the learning and growing happening in him through this process.
Your Call to Action
Numerous others have done the same in sharing personal reflections from their experiences or learning. On this blog alone, “amateur writers” like me have shared their lessons in leader optimism and energy, followership, experience as a junior military officer, organizational trust, and counseling. The challenge isn’t necessarily to write in order to appear on a blog or other publication, but to materialize a system that forces you to take seemingly disconnected “dots” of learning and experience, connect them through reflection, and then package the new lesson in a clear and complete way to enable you and others to apply it in the future. Writing and publicly sharing my content has made me a better leader; this is the #1 behavior that contributes most to my own leader growth. Through writing for this blog, I think about what I’ve learned more often, I search more purposefully for lessons through my experiences and learning. I create clear ideas to apply and I remain accountable to them by publishing those lessons. I encourage you to start doing the same; every piece I write starts as a messy and unprofound mind map of ideas on a whiteboard. Lastly, if you feel that your thoughts can impact others, consider sharing them! Others become better through reading it and you are challenged to remain authentic to what you’ve learned and ultimately shared.
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