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“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
– William Wordsworth

This past weekend, our children pulled out a box of old photos from their childhood, from ours.

There was also a journal I’d kept when our son David was born. First entry: “We just found out that we are having a boy. I was expecting a girl.”

It was 1996. Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow was playing in movie theaters, a now cherished story in our family. One of my favorite songs is Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely. I played it again and again at the births of both our children.

“A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to become.
It is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember and dream.”
– Brad Wilcox

Recording our thoughts and feelings—journaling—is ever more important. Covid-19 has pushed us to the launch point of a new S Curve. Because we don’t know what we’re doing or what’s going to happen, as David Peterson, the Executive Director of Leadership at Google, points out on this week’s podcast, we’re going to lean toward performance mode—getting things right—rather than learning. But the only way this uncomfortable experience and trauma we are undergoing has purpose is if we channel learning mode. What can I learn through this difficulty? What meaning can I choose to make?

Peterson recommends reflecting at day’s end for just one minute. What didn’t work today guides our thinking about how to do tomorrow better, but we must also reflect on what went well. The trauma hinders positivity but if we consciously make a list there are hundreds, if not tens of thousands of things, that go right every day, starting with each breath we take.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
– Anne Frank

Since high school I have kept a journal, though sometimes sporadically. Since January 2018, I’ve used the One Second Everyday app to keep a photo journal, capturing our life in photos to augment my written journal. They document what’s happening, but also help me make meaning of my experiences and capture ideas and inspiration.

Bob Cancalosi (fourlooplearning.com) is a former GE executive who has battled multiple life-threatening illnesses. He recommends that we not only journal, but every 50 pages or so go back, reflect on what you’ve written and summarize what you’ve learned. I’ve started doing this and find it helps reveal how much is going right.

The pandemic makes journaling even more important. The stakes, while in some ways lower (we have more latitude to experiment), are also higher because of the high cost the pandemic is exacting of almost everyone, in one way or another. When we’ve lost control we can compensate by becoming more rigid, more set in our ideas including our negative lenses on the world, from the relatively benign, “Life is disappointing and unfair, to “Life is pointless. Benjamin Hardy, who will make a guest appearance on our podcast in June said, “When people have a traumatic experience, even a small one, the emotions are enough to justify a new cognitive commitment.”

How we deal with disruption defines us. Use your words and images to make meaning of a way that serves you and those you love. This is an opportunity to learn to see the world differently. Commit to make it a time not to be forgotten—in all the very best ways.

My best,
Whitney

P.S. If you want to work through these ideas together, to do a deeper dive on making meaning and thriving through this time, join us for our Thriving Through Disruption Online Workshop series. We start next Thursday, May 28 – click here to learn more and register. Early bird pricing has been extended through tonight.

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