I have found that people do not appreciate their own stories. There is such a premium placed on amazing, dramatic, tear-jerkers that average stories, just stories about who we are and what we want are relegated to the "boring" file. So these stories are neglected and unformed. Yet I have found that every personal story told is fascinating.
Our stories are helpful to others so they can help us. But our stories can reinforce our own behaviors and actions and become self fulfilling prophecies.
Not talking about your interview technique or even how to sound clever at a cocktail party.
I am talking about what you say to yourself and how that reveals itself to others.
The classics: "I am not good at math." "I have a terrible voice." "I can't even draw a circle." "I can't even boil water." "I am such a terrible public speaker."
Whether you like it or not these are part of your story and become part of your reputation.
What are you good at? What are you most confident about? Are you risk averse? Are you afraid of failure or looking stupid?
You can become what you say you are and not become what you don't say.
What are you telling yourself about you?
I made a woman and a young man cry recently. I didn't mean to.
It was my interpretation of their stories that got them choked up.
The gentleman was testing his pitch for a new venture he was thinking of starting and I told him that people want to invest in you who are you. I gave him my version of the hardships he had overcome.
The lady was looking to make a very serious career change and I asked her to tell me why? She struggled with her answer. I summarized her rationale, qualifications and the value she would add.
I loved their stories. Basically I told them their own stories. I gleaned from them what they were saying and I crafted the stories–positive stories. I have no special skill or technique. I listened to them and read their resumes. These were uplifting meetings for all of us. To see people's potential and share it with them was inspirational for me! When your story is set free and it resonates with the protagonist it creates vulnerability–like a secret was told out loud. It is liberating. It can be cathartic. It is empowering.
And your story evolves, if you allow it. If you keep an eye on the possibility ahead you can edit your story.
One of the many benefits of mentoring and networking is to work on your internal narrative. What story is guiding how you live and what you do. The greatest gift is to ask someone you trust: "What do you see in me?" 'Where do you see me going?"
Steve Jobs advice from his famous commencement address still rings true. "Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly already want to become. Everything else is secondary."
Hearing your inner voice out loud gives it life and freedom far from the tyranny of others expectations.
Is your story fraught with limitations, excuses and pessimism? Or is it nestled in optimism, opportunities, and lessons?
"I have few options." "I don't have the right (education, job, mentor, financial condition….)"
"There are so many things I can do and learn." "This problem is going to teach me new things."
It is a choice. The story you tell.
Stories we tell ourselves and others define our well-being. Depressed individuals often have deeply ingrained internal stories such as ‘I’m never good enough,’ or ‘My father told me I should have been a doctor.’ Versus athletes who visualize success and use mantras like "You have been here before. You know what to do."
From Phillipa Perry's book How to Stay Sane "The meanings you find, and the stories you hear, will have an impact on how optimistic you are: it’s how we evolved. If you do not know how to draw positive meaning from what happens in life, the neural pathways you need to appreciate good news will never fire up. We need to look at the repetitions in the stories we tell ourselves, at the process of the stories rather than merely their surface content. Then we can begin to experiment with changing the filter through which we look at the world, start to edit the story and thus regain flexibility where we have been getting stuck."
Take control of your story. Own it. Interrupt the negative audio loops. Open it up. Tell your truths. Talk about it. Listen to other people's assessments of it. Edit and enhance your story. See the possibilities over the problems. Your story is amazing. Sometimes you just have to get out of its way.
Thanks for reading. John