It’s amazing how often you hear leaders advise leaders to write. To carve out time, to make it a habit–to keep trying to improve. Why?
- To clarify your own thinking. Have you ever noticed how something that seems clear in your own head can become a jumbled mess when you go to say it? Putting your thoughts down on paper forces them into order. You can see where the problems lie–hopefully fix them, and serve your audience with the clarity we all crave.
- To extend the shelf life of your work. Writing can last a long time. Thousands of years. Obviously, we don’t need our writing to last that long–indeed the pressure to write something that lasts can shut down our motivation–or worse, make us an intolerable bore. And yet, there is something motivating about the idea that your written work uniquely preserves your thoughts.
- To widen your reach. I don’t recommend this as your chief aim. Ambition for an audience can ruin you and your writing. However, written word can spread past the normal bounds of your voice. And if you have something to say–something true, good, beautiful–and if you say it well, you just might make the world a better place more broadly if you write.
- To slide your words under closed doors. Again, be careful. Passive aggressive writing is not only distasteful, it’s cowardly. Yet, sometimes your words can penetrate closed places, warm up cold places, and bring people together in affection before they’re ready to meet in person.
“In order to be understood, leaders must learn to write and to set time aside for writing. One important reason for this investment is the fact that the written word can do what the spoken word simply cannot do–sit flat on a page and demand attention. Most of the words we deploy in any given day can be forgotten almost instantly. But the words we want to last, to influence tomorrow and not just today, are words best committed to writing. Our only access to the ideas of the distant past are the written records that survive. This changed somewhat after the invention of recordings and the ability to preserve the human voice, but nothing has supplanted the book and other forms of the written word in terms of endurance, influence, and permanence.”Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead, 168.