Story: As part of my workflow, I take notes in black notebooks. I rarely refer to these scribblers for very long after I write in them. Yet, they have proven vital to the way I learn. Over my career, I’ve poured my thinking into literally more than 1,000 notebooks, each a hundred or more double-sided pages. I typically fill up one every couple of months. Yesterday I burned about 50 of them in our outdoor fireplace (see the picture above). I shook each out checking for loose cards, old lottery tickets and other stuff I didn’t want to inadvertently destroy. However, I looked at none of my notes, partly because my writing is pretty much illegible, but mostly because the written words have all expired while the learnings travel on with me.
Key Point: We all have black books (literal or not). They are important, and remind us of where we have been. Still, there is something cathartic about burning them. I do love every chapter captured in those books, and it is important to honor what they stand for. However, they are done. In fact they are ashes to feed my flower bed and garden. Perhaps that is the most significant metaphor. I genuinely believe my very best work and contribution is in front of me.
Lead Yourself Move:
- Burn your little “black books.” As great (or not) as they were, they’re gone. Take the best parts with you as you move forward. Embrace the idea that your best work is ahead of you, regardless of where you are in your work life.
Lead Others Move:
- Remember that you are a chapter in the “black book” of everyone who works for or with you. What do you want them writing about you? When they “burn their books,” you will travel with them. How will they remember you?
Burning forward in personal leadership,
One Millennial View: Most Millennials have probably moved on from bound, black books to notes in an iPhone or tablet. Still, the sentiment remains the same. I know that I’ve taken plenty of notes that I simply have never looked at again. Kind of like that short video you took at that concert or fireworks display. You ever re-watch that? Instead, the memory and experience moves on with you. The only advantage to electronic notes via pages is they don’t take up the physical space of 1,000 notebooks and you can burn them with the click of a button.
Blog number 949.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.