Story or narrative is a fundamental way that we understand our lives as human beings. Story exists in every culture and has throughout time. It provides a way to process our experiences, meaning, and lessons. It helps us connect one event or understanding to another, so we can make sense of things. Otherwise we live in an undifferentiated, and often undigested, world of experience.
Now it’s one thing to learn to identify the stories you tell yourself that you think are “just the way it is.” Too often people think their story of who they are is the truth, when actually it’s a story that they either created as they went along, or had given to them at some point. Some of it may be true, but much of it isn’t. It’s very helpful to step back and be able to see that story for what it is, identifying a story that has been running us that had seemed to be true, but is it?
Any story is partial. By its very nature it’s a perspective, an interpretation, a way of seeing that isn’t the whole story (irony intended).
Okay, clear on that point.
But does that mean that story itself is not valuable?
Not at all, not in my view.
You have perspective. You cannot help but have perspective. Einstein is the one who using physics demonstrated what literary people have always known: an observer affects what is being observed—that is the power of perspective.
The point isn’t to get beyond story or off story (because you can’t). It’s to know what story you are telling yourself, you are believing, what perspective you are living through, and if it is serving you. Then you have choice to be the author of your story, rather than at the mercy of a story you don’t even know is running you from deep within your unconscious.
As Caroline Casey would say: Which story makes you feel better, Armageddon, or the one where everything works out the way that you want it to? Which one do you choose?
So is the story you are telling yourself about who you are, about your business, about the economy, about the world today, about your clients, about your prospects — is it helping you or is it hindering you?
My take on this is that, yes, you have to become aware of the story you are living inside of. I often ask my clients: what story are you telling yourself about this situation (yourself, that person, this opportunity)? When you really take in the metaphysical truth that you create your reality, then you have to ask yourself what are you creating with your perspective? You have to step back enough to observe the story in which you are the star (whether you like it or not). Is it a tragedy? A comedy? A hero’s journey? A boring novel? A blockbuster movie?
This is the value of triggers and challenges. They reveal your story, IF you approach them this way. IF you realize that the things, people or situations that irritate or infuriate you are sign posts to what’s going on inside of you and the way you are making sense of all that energy.
And IF you take responsibility and see this as an opportunity to gain a NEW perspective on yourself. Not blame others or outside circumstances.
Then you can begin to create a new story.
And to tell a new one requires imagination. “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Einstein again). What I loved about painting last weekend is that we got to create our stories in images—and to use our creativity in that particular way.
The law says: What you give your attention to expands, whether you are conscious of it or not. Learning to identity your old story, and creating a new story makes your creations (which happen no matter what) more and more conscious.
PLEASE: Don’t use the law against yourself by unwittingly using your imagination to fuel your uncertainty, doubts and fear. Use the law for yourself by stretching your imagination (and your comfort zone) to tell a story that opens, invigorates and empowers you, the more outrageous the better.
And even more important for you as a thought leader, change-maker, visionary entrepreneur is to realize that your story – how you tell it and the message it sends – is key to connecting with your tribe and ideal client. It’s critical in fact.
All the more reason to be in command of your story. You be the one who is consciously, deliberately, purposefully telling the story you want to tell about yourself. And not be undermined unconsciously by out-dated stories deep inside that transmit your not-enoughness or not-good-enoughness.
So what’s your story?
- What story do you choose to tell to help us understand and know who you are?
- What details will you emphasize in your thought process and self perception as well as the words you use to talk about yourself?
- How does the narrative unfold so that we understand what you’ve been through, how you’ve digested your experience, and the golden nuggets of wisdom you now have to share?
Command your story. We want to hear it.