Monday, March 8, 2010


The last five days have been a whirlwind of activity—finishing up an editing project, getting my son ready for National History Day, and speaking at the UWM Spring Writer's Festival. Between the public events, I was baking cookies, doing laundry, and answering email. With all that going on, I forgot to journal—not just once but twice! 

And guess what? I missed it. I write nearly every day professionally. But journaling is different. Anais Nin said, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." Journaling allows me to sit at the feet of my own life and learn from it. When I don't journal, I feel disconnected from my own life. 

For the past four or five days, we've practiced write2forgive or write2release. And didn't that feel good? I loved letting go of all that yucky stuff that has been clogging up my mind for years. Today we turn to writing to discover our strengths and make sense of our successes or write2build. 

According to a recent Gallup study, 99% of workers whose managers focused on their strengths were engaged in their work and productive. Recent studies in psychology and education have validated the importance of working from and on our strengths rather than “shoring up” our weaknesses.
Most of us have rich descriptions for our problems. We can talk endlessly about our flaws—physical, emotional, and intellectual. We often diminish our own role in achieving success, attributing our hard-won successes to luck. 

Is that you? Can you talk for hours about your failures but brush off your successes? Do you underestimate your strengths? I know that I do. Well, no more! For the next few days, we will write about our strengths. When thinking about strengths, I like the definition that educator Jenifer Fox uses: talents plus passion equals strength. If something we do is truly a strength, then we are going to be good at it and feel energized when we do it. 

There are many ways to write2build. Here are a few ideas: 

1. List all of your achievements. You might even want to create a timeline in your journal, recording all of your successes. 

2. Look at your significant successes—graduating from college, losing weight, or achieving a promotion at work. Describe in rich detail the strengths and skills that you used to achieve these successes. 

3. Create a list of your strengths. Write about how you have used or will use your strengths. If you have trouble getting a list of strengths, take one of the strengths inventories, such as the VIA Character Strengths Inventory.

4. Make yourself into a superhero. Come up with your own superhero identity based on your strengths. Describe yourself, your super powers, and your adventures in detail. You might even want to add pictures.

I'm including a link to a book that I've found helpful in exploring my strengths, Strengths Based Leadership

As always, I look forward to hearing how this great journaling adventure is going for you!


  1. Aha! Got it! Thanks! This is going to be a tough exercise for me. I'll let you know how it goes. Uffda!

  2. I thought this one was hard, too. But keep coming back to it!