There is a great deal of research and practical experience that demonstrates the power of the written word. Writing down thoughts and ideas has been proven to bring clarity to our thinking and improve our ability to understand which all enable us to more effectively change our behavior.
In today’s world, there is plenty of advice from personal development gurus, life-coaches, kitchen table psychologists, etc. who would tell us that goals not written down or plans that are only talked about rarely materialize into an accomplishment. Written words enable us time to reflect, think more clearly, and in turn, take action more effectively.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, the written word becomes a powerful tool to make meaning progress towards any endeavor. “Winging it” is not a sustainable proposition in today’s world that continues to grow in complexity. Written goals and plans help form the foundation for steady progress.
The below are a few areas of practical application to leverage the power of the written word:
- A Personal Journal: Throughout history, there have been numerous examples of people of impact who developed the habit of keeping a journal to help shape their attitudes, reinforce their direction in the important areas of life, and continue to make progress towards reaching their full potential. There are a number of techniques, tools, and resources available to help us, but at the end of the day, we need to choose one that works for us and develop the habit. We will be following in the footsteps of some pretty effective people and we should be confident that we will make progress in our ability to have a positive impact.
- Written letters to others: With today’s abundance of online chatter, it should not be lost on anyone that we rarely are givers or receivers of a genuine, well-thought out letter of appreciation, thanks, or encouragement. With the exception of the nice birthday card, holiday greeting, or a line or two of abbreviated text via social media, we probably have not received or given a well thought out letter in a long time. Some researchers have found that receiving a written word of encouragement is more effective than any other form of communication.
In my own journey, I have found two helpful reminders that put a little fire under me to raise the bar in reaching out to others with a thoughtful and meaningful written letter:
- When I look back over certain periods of my professional life, I have spent more time and effort writing to customers or comments to team members than I have in writing a note of encouragement or appreciation to other people in the more lasting areas of my life…perhaps you have too.
- Observing the example of others who are raising the bar. A number of years ago, a close friend shared a story with me that has stayed with me and consistently reminds me of how important the written word can be to strengthen relationships. When he and his siblings went away to college, his father wrote them a letter every single day for four years. It was not a short letter. Each letter was a handwritten, single-spaced, two-sided piece of paper describing how proud he was of them, that “the family” was behind them, and how he continued to encourage them to reach their potential. My friend described many of the wonderful things their father did for them and their family over the years, but that single act of letter writing throughout their college years which demonstrated such dedication, commitment, and encouragement had the greatest impact during their formative years.
That story continues to be a good reminder to me and hopefully to you, that we should raise the bar on our efforts and effectiveness with the written word to the people that matter most in our lives. I can almost guarantee they will appreciate it.
As we build some habits around the importance of the written word, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to be more effective in the essential areas of life.