Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Our team is growing rapidly, at least in my eyes. We’re no tech company, but we regularly hire multiple new people every year. And with every new hire, I have a sit down, low voice conversation with myself about the coworker I want to be with this person. Where did I excel with our last hire? Where did I come up short?
At every iteration, I find myself digging for notes, desperate to remember every step in an effort to evaluate. Note taking was never a skill I developed. My method has always been to repeat to exhaustion. Reflection is too hard and painful. I would rather surge ahead in an ill-considered attempt to forget my mistakes.
Now that I have age on my side and my projects have grown, repeating to (near) perfection is out of the cards. I’ve had to evolve, to adapt. Age is beautiful in that way. I’m tired of missing big things on building drawings, or leaving meetings open to interpretation, or failing to follow through on a task because I didn’t write it down. Damn, so much time wasted!
What do I do? Well, I've chosen to take notes. Yes, writing with pen on paper, sometimes in cursive. So simple. But simplicity and effectiveness are not mutually exclusive. This note taking has me learning to be a child again. How? It encourages wonderful curiosity.
Taking notes provides room and opportunity to slow down and not only think more deeply, but to think deeply more often. It forces me to single-task, to give my employees my full attention, to stop responding on Slack when I’m listening to a podcast, to hear rather than speak in a meeting. When I sense my mind ready to wander, I ask what I could write. And I begin to dig into the topic at hand instead of reaching for a distraction. I challenge myself to question more, not evade.
Wow. This might be one of the most powerful tools that spans all aspects of life. Do you take notes?