Danny Rehr
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Why I Journal About Work

Why I Journal About Work

Jun 16, 2022

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash.

You know those rock bands called ‘overnight successes’? They all of a sudden come onto the scene with a #1 smash hit. The song is everywhere. The band becomes a household name and they’re doing interviews on radio, television, and online.

The story is familiar. In just about every case, band members explain. They are anything but overnight successes.

Oftentimes, their fame was 5 or 10 years or more in the making. Small clubs. No one showing up for performances. Barely enough money for gas to drive to the next show. They paid their dues.

In a similar way, this blog is years in the making. That’s not to say it is or will be influential. An admission, I hope so, but I don’t care if readership never grows. I just want to write.

For the past 2 years, I have written. Privately.

To Be A Singer, Sing

Allow me to detour here before I discuss my private writings. Stay with me, because this section has a lot to do with the point I want to make. It’s why I journal about work. It's why I now blog.

During COVID, I got lucky. Saying nothing about not getting sick, when tens of millions of people were losing their livelihoods, I didn’t get 1, but 2 jobs. In a way I would get even luckier because of an example set. For that, keep reading.

Mine were overnight gigs. Both of them were. And, I would work 7 days a week. Making ends meet was a blessing. Staying in touch with family had to be sacrificed to proper rest.

Creatively, I started an online journal. My family could keep track of how I was doing. My work schedule and any changes were available to them. So were my thoughts on training, getting the hang of things, arriving in the dead of night, getting enough sleep with the sun shining, and so on.

While I don’t remember ever having journaled about her, a young woman with whom I worked liked to sing. She sang at work. She took voice lessons in her spare time. She just wanted to sing.

Photo by Claus Grünstäudl on Unsplash.

…so she sang.

Want to do something? 'Then do it!

We cannot all be Beyoncé or Andrea Bocelli. We can be ourselves so long as we're doing what we love.

What a wonderful lesson.

I have analogized this lesson with mentees (change out the verb 'sing', and voila); additionally, I have taken my own cues which eventually led me to alter the way I journaled about work - and was partly responsible for establishing this blog.

Put It In Writing

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

It’s not that you have something to say. It’s that you find out what you have to say. [1]

—Austin Kleon, Author

Sharing with family how I was doing evolved. I began to express my professional thoughts and opinions in writing.

An organization development professional, I framed what I experienced at work into strategic reflections. My work journal became more than a daily review. It was something altogether different, something more.

Keeping My Skills Sharp

Like a quantitative analysis without numbers, it is very difficult to practice strategy without situational challenges.

On a daily basis, I was considering processes, constraints, misalignments, lack of information and more. Every organization has them. It's just a matter of getting to them, like picking out the meat from a crab's shell.

Thinking through those matters in writing afforded me the ability to consider perspectives. My own perspectives were bolstered by those in industry and academics.

Over time, my writing skills improved as did my abilities to research, articulate hypotheses, apply multidisciplinary approaches, develop visual communication, and more.

Verbally summarizing those reflections at work made me better, too. If I could comprehensively summarize new concepts, then I would reinforce what I learned.

Making Sense Of The Workplace and Improving Others' Careers

Of course, not everyone likes in-depth analysis; however, what affects one at work has personal meaning to that individual. The motivation to understand increases dramatically. I very much enjoyed helping others understand what I came to learn...

...making sense of the workplace and improving others careers.

  • Why was what I observed happening?

  • Based upon patterns observed, for what keywords could I search and provide myself understanding?

  • How might I continue past conversations and start new ones with what I was learning?

    • As I wrote in Is An MBA Worth It?, “I support others with the knowledge I have and continue to gain. I share my MBA. Accordingly, I create value for my employer and its employees.”

  • What could I do to positively impact the organization?

Through privately journaling, I scaled-up my resources and opportunities to initiate improvements, mentor others, further develop relationships, and support the careers of those around me. All the while, it was great fun for me. I enjoyed putting thoughts to words, and words to thoughts.

Nowadays, I do both work journaling and blogging. Here is hoping the latter is as beneficial to others as the whole of it has been to me.


[1] Abdaal, Ali. How Writing Online Made Me A Millionaire. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyVpRiqOvt4. Accessed 16 June 2022.

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