Keep A Journal, Understand Yourself

By John E. Trombley, MMgt,
The Village Business Institute

I recently read an article in the August 2011 issue of HR Magazine titled “The Care and Feeding of High-Potential Employees.” (Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2012)  According to author and contributing editor, Robert J. Grossman, the Corporate Leadership Council conducted a survey in 2010 revealing that “More than 25 percent [of high-performance employees] said they planned to change jobs within the next 12 months.” The article goes on to state that employee engagement continues to decline, hence the reason for the anticipated job migration.

That led to me thinking about the connection between an individual’s purpose and passion in life and the work they perform. I believe that the people who are able to make that connection, while meeting the needs of others, experience the greatest job satisfaction. I also believe that employee engagement has two components: The first component of engagement is job satisfaction and the second component is commitment. I define commitment as the determination to see a thing through to its conclusion while being loyal to the organization’s mission, coworkers, direct reports, organizational leadership and customers. Okay; that’s a tall order I admit, but I’ll stand by my definition. I’m an idealist at heart.

Grossman writes about the need for organizations and companies to employ certain steps to engage employees—as a means of preventing turnover. They are all good ideas, but what I find lacking is a discussion about the employee’s responsibility to choose engagement. What I mean is this: I believe one of the greatest challenges for Man is to search out that purpose for which he was created. Central to that search is the struggle to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here?” Understanding your life purpose is absolutely critical if you want to truly enjoy all that life has to offer.

With that understanding, you begin to make choices about how to live your life; including what career to pursue and who to work for, which relationships to pursue and which relationships to avoid, where to invest your resources of time, talent and treasure, and so forth.

I encourage my coaching clients to keep a journal in which they can pursue their quest of understanding themselves. A journal gives you an opportunity to process the events of the day, to explore your true motivations, to examine your emotions {even stoics have them), and to search under the big and little rocks in your life to see what is hiding underneath. In the end, this self-reflection can lead to a much clearer picture of who you are and why you are here, and that knowledge and understanding can serve to motivate and inspire you to make proactive choices that lead to satisfaction and commitment.

The journey is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, boldness, conviction, perseverance, humility and time. In the end, the rewards are more than worth the efforts.

About the blogger:
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Institute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

With over 16 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.

For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or