“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” J.M. Barrie
This quote has significance to me on two levels. For the bulk of my adult life I have kept a personal journal. Secondly, I have also been a strong advocate for developing a clear aspirational statement as to how you wish to live your life. At Leading Teams we call this a Personal Trademark.
The Personal Trademark acts as a compass through life and a journal allows me to reflect on experiences I am having along the way (good, bad or otherwise), which allows me to find some perspective.
If I look back on entries in my oldest journals, I can still feel the emotion attached to those thoughts.
In a recent session with a group of clients I was advocating the use of a journal and had bought along one of my earlier journals as an example. One of the participants asked if I could share an entry as an example.
I opened the journal to the 21st of November 1993. This was just prior to leaving my career in the RAAF to begin what is now Leading Teams Australia.
‘Today I began feeling rather anxious about the future. I think it is the combination of realising that things are really happening and hoping that Sal (my wife) appreciates the enormity of what we are about to do.
The thing which seems strangest is how often it is the little things which bring these feelings to the surface. I got really angry because the printer wasn’t working properly. That is really quite a piddling issue. It made me realise it was the risk we were taking to start the business which was at the heart of my behaviour. Just when I was getting most annoyed, Jackson (our 4 year old son) came into the kitchen as I was doing the dishes, he brought his plate to the sink and I thanked him. He replied – “That’s alright, just remember I am always here to help”
Those things make you take stock of what is really important. Most importantly, a positive outlook to the journey ahead. End of entry.’
Even rereading that entry brings me to tears.
I now look at Jackson a quarter of a century on and hope that at the end of my journey he may say that what I aspired to be – my Personal Trademark – lined up with what I was.