I love a good story!
I’m looking out at the ice and snow, sipping on a hot cup of cocoa sending you this important post. I hope it will inspire you to tell me your story…
Your most powerful message is your own story. But for most people that’s the hardest story to tell.
When I do Story Workshops I ask people to think about the events in their life that inspired their work. At first I get some boring stories! They usually go something like this: “I’ve been really fortunate all my life so I want to help others who aren’t so lucky.”
Are you inspired? Neither am I, it’s a sleeper and it doesn’t begin to tell who you are or why I should care about you, let alone your cause or organization.
A True Story
Rosie came to a recent Workshop – this one was for women who had made significant donations to the organization. She told us she is a successful business woman, happily married and an elected politician. Her life does look “fortunate.”
But…later in the Workshop, she was inspired to share more.
As a young, single mom, I accepted food stamps in order to feed my family…I was denied welfare because I had $2000 in savings. I struggled for years. I know how it feels and how hard it can be.
Now were we interested in her story? You betcha. Rosie – and everyone in the room – now understood her passion for her community and her eagerness to be a mentor to young women.
Every day you have opportunities to tell our own story.
You, or Rosie, don’t need to air your dirty laundry, but you do need to fully understand the events of your own life and how they impact your work, passion and drive. She hadn’t connected the dots before.
When you speak from personal experience your sincerity will be clear to anyone you hears you. They will believe what you believe (that’s the first step to getting them to care, and then to take action).
Once you learn to tell your own story, you’ll do a better job of recognizing and telling other’s stories.
Stories are engaging. They are memorable. People naturally listen to stories. Whether you are gathered around the campfire or at a networking event, a good storyteller gets attention.
Start to explore your own story. Write down 3 life events that have impacted you significantly.
You may be like my friend Mary, she can easily point to THE event that drives her work. Mary’s father died when she was 14. She is the founder of two children’s grief organizations. If your’s isn’t that clear, spend some time thinking about the stories from your family. I grew up hearing about my mother’s family being evicted during the Great Depression and later I spent many years volunteering with homeless families.
What events in childhood, your vulnerable teen years, or early adulthood, or recent past had a great – positive or negative – impact on everything that came since?
Spend the next few days thinking about these. Choose one that clearly illustrates your values and the choices you have made since that time. Think about how you might use this life- event to tell a story of your work that would inspire others to care – and give.
Wishing you warm hugs, a cup of cocoa and a good story!