Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Just last week, in a conversation with a colleague, we were talking about a recent business situation and it occurred to me that we really are our own worst storytellers. Without boring you with work details, the basic gist is that as the story was unfolding, there were several moments of editorializing, statements of judgment and color commentary that reminded me that how we tell our stories matters as much as the stories we tell.
Growing up, we heard story after story with happy endings - in fact, the story arc of many of our childhood stories is a pretty simple formula:
Goal + Roadblock + Solution = Happy Ending
So, what's changed since we read the stories of our childhood? Have we lost our optimism? Did we stop believing that there is a happy ending for us? Or are we busy waiting for someone else to come save the day? I think that it comes right back to how we tell our own stories. When we decide to tell our story from a place of judgment or a place of failure, our lens shifts. We don't find the positive outcomes, learnings along the way or the strategic by-products of our work.
But, what if we decided that we are in control of our ending? Instead of waiting for someone else to fix the situation, find the solution or validate our results,
What if we decided to be our own BEST storytellers?
How would our actions and attitudes change if we decided to highlight what went right in our story, finding the arc highlights that showcase our strength, our resilience, our strategic thinking and our ability to recover and keep going?
Storytelling is such a powerful tool and when we fail to use that power to fuel ourselves forward, it can nearly stop us in our tracks, keep us from both making progress on our goals and leaning into our potential. Think about the speakers and leaders you admire and aspire to - I bet they are great storytellers. They weave the challenges and roadblocks into their story, and you still hang on to see how it ended, with the hope and optimism that there was a great outcome, even if it was not their initial goal. It is not because their actions are so different, it is that they have learned how to be great storytellers!
The GREAT news is that we have the power to start telling our best stories RIGHT NOW.
And telling our best stories does not mean that we go all rose-colored glasses on life, it just means that we decided to find the highlights of our stories, that we see our power and we stop discounting what we are capable of achieving.
Maybe applying a little of that optimism of those childhood stories to our current stories will shift our lens and remind us that we are capable of telling a much better story than we are currently sharing.
How are you going to challenge yourself to be a better storyteller?