The Power of the Written Word
Some time ago, a Wall Street Journal article confirmed what I long believed to be true (don’t you just love when that happens — confirming evidence from an objective source?).
No one can deny the positive impact technology has had on our personal and professional lives. At last count, I have two laptops, a MacBook Air, two iPhones and more iPods than I can keep track of. These tools and the software that drives them bring unmatched speed and versatility to work and leisure activities. But when I want to remember something, I write it down, and yes, the old fashion way, on paper.
The article cited a study by Daniel Oppenheimer, a professor of marketing and psychology and UCLA and Pam Mueller of Princeton University titled: “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.” In it, they found that because the human brain can move so much more quickly than the human hand, the physical aspect of writing forces us to slow the cognitive thought process in a way that ensures we grasp more fully the information we are writing down. And because we tend to write more slowly than we type and in our own words, this natural process of slowing down increases the likelihood that we will remember what we are recording.
When we write something down, it does something in our minds. This is particularly true of goals. Early in my career, I took a Dale Carnegie Sales Course. The faculty there stressed the importance of setting goals and writing them down. As the course concluded, each of us were required to write down several goals we wanted to accomplish over the next five years. I did this, took the card they were written on and put it away. I forgot all about this exercise until several years later while packing to move when I found my “goal card”. As I read it, I was amazed to discover that every written goal had been accomplished, every one, including a couple I had no idea would be even possible at the time.
Now there is much to be said for monitoring your goals on a regular basis, a practice I have since adopted and now teach. But even when you don’t, the simple act of writing it down burns it into your subconscious mind. As I learned from further research, something powerful happens the moment you develop written goals. Even if they are overlooked or lost in your conscious mind, they remain steadfast in your subconscious mind, driving you toward the things you intend to accomplish.
Whether it’s a time-tested yellow legal pad or a notebook (my favorite is the Bullet Journal), when it’s important enough to remember, write it down. And watch what happens!
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.