Writing and the Rest of the Iceberg
Whether I’m supplying prompts to my coaching clients to help them write to get to clarity on their values and goals or sharing the powerful impact of using writing to tell your story, I have seen the power of the process of writing. Today I want to talk about why I love to write, and why I want to encourage you to write mindfully and often.
We have many wonderful customers in our companies who are so important to our success. It may just be a fantasy in my mind, but I share 8-10 articles a year in our newsletters in the hope of encouraging everyone who reads them to take inventory of what matters to them and their company. I hope our customers see the value we create with the products and services we provide, and we also believe it’s important to share the positive experiences our teams create and to be active and present in our desire to help them be successful.
But I write for many reasons, all of which leads me to recommend it to my coaching clients, the members of the teams I lead, and everyone whose success matters to me.
Underlying all those reasons is one key fact about the act of writing: it’s a chance to slow your life down, reflect, and really think.
Thinking on paper, or on a screen, is luxurious. The blank page or screen (or napkin, envelope, or junk mail) is neutral territory. There you can vent, confess, disentangle, and consider without consequences that which you would rather not introduce or answer for in your relationships. And seeing your thoughts has power all by itself.
How many times have you sat down to write and seen words appear in front of you that, for the first time, you recognize as the truth you had not yet put into words? How many times have you written down thoughts you only recognized as obviously false or confused when they were visible to you, outside of your mind, and subject to daylight, if not logic and gravity?
When we were children, if we were blessed with a loving home, we shared our fears and concerns, our desires, our needs as we felt them, and our joy with our parents. We asked what things meant and what we should do, until one day the larger part of our lives was outside their direct understanding, and we took sole responsibility for sorting things out. If we were not so blessed, this lesson came so early that we may have learned it in unclear terms or may not know we learned it at all.
By the time we are adults we understand, to one degree or another, that all of our feelings and concerns are our sole responsibility. But the need to get our thoughts outside of our head never goes away. Nor does its utility. We share what we can with our spouses, partners, friends and colleagues, but the rest of the iceberg is ours alone to deal with and bring to the surface as necessary.
As we get older, we get sophisticated. We don’t share certain thoughts or say things whose effects are hard to predict. Most of us wind up erring on the side of silence. While this is not unwise, life is clearer, saner, and more successful if we do the work to express our true thoughts and feelings, at least to ourselves. And it is richer, happier, warmer, and more loving when we can constructively share certain thoughts and feelings with the people who matter to us most.
Gratitude, for instance, is one of the most potent and powerful feelings we have. It is all the more powerful when expressed and shared. But gratitude can be buried in our minds under feelings of unworthiness or fear of loss. It takes effort to get this all disentangled. Writing is the tool for the job.
When I slow down to write, I am flooded with gratitude for the amazing people in my life: I have an incredible family. How proud I am to be a dad of three wonderful kids, a grandpa of three beautiful children, and to have an amazing woman in my life who makes me smile. I am grateful for our companies, the teams, the customers, vendors and the many other relationships we have that have given me the opportunities to make a difference.
In writing we have a method for exploring a subject and all the thoughts associated with it, a tool for unpacking all the feelings and thoughts that surround what we’re trying to understand.
My last article was about “What’s your favorite word, and what does it mean to you?” What I love about this concept is that, on the surface, it seems elementary. However, when you invest the time to think about it, dig a little deeper, ask yourself the question, “Why is it my favorite?” and ask more and more questions and explore until you hit the root, it will open up your mind to what really is driving you and maybe give you the answer of why you are the way you are and why you embrace your life the way you do. That is why I encourage you to write.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. And a very special “thank you” for those who take the time to write to me about your thoughts and experiences on what my words meant to you. They are priceless to me!
I will close by encouraging you to get out some paper and a pen and start writing your thoughts about your experiences, both the good ones and the challenging ones. Meditation or prayer can be a great starting point. These will relax your mind so you can think of what you need to think about. Let your thoughts come and write freely. About what you want and what you don’t want in your life. What you want for yourself, your family, you friends and associates. What lessons would you like to share? Who do you want to share them with and have an impact on? I always ask the question, “If you don’t do this for yourself, who is going to do it for you?”
Cheers and thanks a billion for being in our life!