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Journals – Taking Notes In The Classroom of Life!

January 15, 2013
The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuile...

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Kerry Kilpatrick

“the notes Napoleon made from his readings during these years of study filled four hundred pages.”
From the book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

While in school it was the norm to take notes during instruction, while doing lab experiments or when studying. You took notes in order to pass the test your teachers used to see if you were learning your lessons. When you graduated did you quit taking notes? Did you think there would be no more tests?

Journaling is simply taking notes in the big classroom of life. The “tests” in life never cease and if you want to be a leader or excel at the “university of life” it is imperative that you keep written track of the lessons that are presented to you every single day. Journaling is a powerful way to continue the note taking habit you became great at while in school.

Napoleon, da Vinci, Einstein, Tesla and many more of the names we associate with greatness and genius took constant notes through their discipline of journaling. They evaluated and wrote down what they observed was going on in the world around them as well as what was going on within their own minds. Their writing helped them focus their thinking and link disparate thoughts into cohesive concepts. They were concepts such as Einstein’s theory of relativity that ultimately changed the world.

Something seemingly magical happens within the brain when you write something down and study it or review it regularly. A fascinating story to illustrate the life changing power of taking notes is found in the great book The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In his book Malcolm describes how his troubled youth resulted in a long prison sentence. While in prison he witnessed a person with a lot of “knowledge” gaining a high degree of respect from both the prisoners and the guards. He realized that he didn’t have knowledge and set out to acquire it. He started by studying words and copied a dictionary, from A to Z, in his journals. He then read “voraciously” and took notes on all that he read. He noted that “reading had changed forever the course of my life.”

In talking to a group of students at a university he encapsulated his education in this way: “Gentlemen, I finished the eighth grade in Mason, Michigan. My high school was the black ghetto of Roxbury, Massachusetts. My college was in the streets of Harlem and my master’s was taken in Prison.”

If you’re looking for your master’s degree from the “university of life” the best place to start is by taking notes in your journal. It has the potential to “change forever the course of your life.”


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