TLDR; Are you lacking confidence? Don’t feel satisfied with your daily progress? Struggling with providing positive feedback to your reports, peers, or managers? You should try success diary practice! Every day, even the tough one, has positive moments and elements of success. Training yourself to spot it can help you in many ways!
Some time ago I was reading Bodo Shaeffer’s book “A dog called Money”. Despite being a very good book for kids and adults about dealing with money it mentions a fantastic tool called “success diary”. You need to write down at least 5 elements of success every day and that’s it. The idea sounds simple, isn’t it? But the power is huge, especially for leaders. In the book, the diary was aiming to improve the self-confidence of a person, but after practicing it myself for almost a year I’m pretty sure it gives much more than that.
Success diary powers
Reflection is a great practice helping to increase awareness, performance and boost growth. While doing exercise you create a space for yourself to step back, look at your day and observe it in a different way. I was surprised how many great things could go unnoticed in the flow of tasks without such a reflection.
Since you’re intentionally looking for success you tune your brain to search for it and filter out everything not matching “your request”. By doing so you train the brain to spot success even in small things.
By writing items down you consciously recognize and acknowledge your success. If you’re familiar with git it’s like committing new items to a success repository inside your brain. As an outcome, your satisfaction, confidence, and motivation are growing.
The third inborn intention is Sense of Accomplishment.mentalhealthstrength.com
It feels good to accomplish something, right? Every item in your daily success list is an accomplishment. No matter if it is small or huge, it positively contributes to the sense of accomplishment and maintains it with time. If you look back in the diary after 30 days you’ll get at least 150 items. Do it for a year and you’ll be successful at least 1825 times!
Have you heard of Impostor syndrome? It’s very common in tech and often can lead to lower self-confidence and belief in own abilities. The success diary helps here by building a positive track of records. When feeling a lack of confidence or fear of failure just open the diary on the last page and start reading back until the feeling goes away, it should help 😉
You did the exercise yesterday and you know you’ll do it again today, tomorrow, and so on. This habit motivates you to prepare for success! So you might take some extra effort or plan some wins for the days ahead.
How does it help leaders?
There are few more bonuses for leaders making their life easier at work.
First of all, for yourself, it helps to fight the lack of immediate accomplishments after transitioning from an Individual contributor role. I wrote a bit about it in my previous post.
Secondly, as a leader, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge and celebrate team success as well as to provide feedback, including positive ones, to your direct reports, peers, and managers. The success diary trains your muscles to spot success not only in yourself but around you too! So it will be much easier to provide positive feedback or recognize the achievements of others and will lead to better team morale.
I practiced the success diary for almost a year, every day, and stopped only when I felt I don’t need it anymore because I noticed I started doing it automatically in my mind. In the beginning, I was struggling to spot success. Sometimes I was staring at a blank page for minutes or stuck after 2-3 items. The key mistake was to look for huge or big wins only and to neglect smaller ones. After some time it got to the habit and I could easily write 5 – 10 items within several minutes. Moreover, I started noticing signs of success around me and noticed I have a better mood in general.
Is it cheating or gaming? No, I don’t think so, at least if you are being honest with yourself. It doesn’t mitigate mistakes or failures, it doesn’t keep you always positive either, but it supports you in stormy and good days as well as gives powers to support people around you.
Tune your mind for success and enjoy it!