#18 What’s Your Story?
On the power of being nosy and telling your own story.
What do we owe each other? Well, let’s start with our stories and go from there.
Everyone has a story (or ten, or more) to share. Many of us just have one beautiful piece of wonder that we hone and craft over time in preparation for sharing it with the world—our own story. It may come to life in many ways—a memoir, a piece of art, a resume, or an anecdote we tell often to friends and family.
A story about who you are is the most important story you’ll ever tell. In fact, I’m developing a theory that you can only tell other stories well once you master your own. I’ve shared with you why your story is your superpower and how to honour it, now I want to dig a bit in to how you mine your own story.
It starts with curiosity.
Curiosity is a superpower of mine that I want everyone who reads this newsletter to develop. When I was a kid it was simply called nosiness. Now it’s a respected element of my professional capabilities. Good storytellers remain curious throughout their lives. Curious, open to learning, and MOST IMPORTANTLY open to saying, “I don’t know—help me understand.”
I think the world has told us over the past few decades that to not know or to be unsure is somehow wrong. That certainty is the only path forward. I’ve lived enough decades to understand that that just isn’t the case. In fact we’re only able to unleash the magic of ourselves and our authentic stories when we remain open to changing our minds about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. Curious about subtle changes in our perceptions and curious about big, reactive responses to things going on around us.
What’s that about? Ask yourself questions and stay curious, it’s the only way to better understand yourself and your story. Therapy helps too if you’re lucky enough to have access to it.
The bottom line: people change. It’s a fundamental belief of mine that was born out of a podcast episode about the long held belief that we didn’t—this is before recent advances in our understanding of neuroplasticity (our brains also change).
So how do we stay curious about ourselves (and others)?
I did an exercise as part of a business program I attended in which I had to send a note to people who knew me well and ask them my three best qualities—it was very embarrassing, but also eye opening. A lot of my friends called me brave and used examples of things I wouldn’t have thought of as brave. Before that exercise, brave wouldn’t have been on my list of superpowers; Loyal, yes. Type A, certainly. But brave? If I hadn’t asked I would never have considered it.
So a little homework assignment for you. Do the same thing. Ask people who know you your top three qualities. Especially you entrepreneurs out there and people trying to figure out your own personal and professional stories. Bravery is now part of the personal story I tell myself and how I share my experiences with others. It’s infused into my business’ tone and approach. As is curiosity. It’s a simple exercise, but can change how you think about yourself and how you approach sharing your stories.
So, what do we owe each other? I think it’s our curiosity; our openness; and the authentic stories of us that are born of that.
Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Hamilton. Because a story well told is one of my favourite things in the world. Here is a bit of quarantine-inspired joy from the musical’s instagram account. This is includes one of my favourite characters (Angelica, because we’re both neurotic and will always have a new vision on the horizon) in the musical. Also, those voices. I get chills every time I listen.
Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need telling. I’ll be here to help you tell yours.
Also, if you’re enjoying this or if there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m here to help.