People often struggle with telling their story because they think they need to fabricate some impressive narrative about themselves out of thin air. Doing so doesn’t feel authentic, and, let’s face it, many people don’t tell kind stories about themselves. This is especially true for Creative Giants who have their hands in so many different things, have high standards of excellence for themselves, and have native capabilities to do well without trying too hard.
A far easier way to tell your story is to share what other people say about you.
The first challenge here is to do so without filtering what other people say for the sake of being humble. If someone tells you that you’re the smartest person they’ve met, don’t downgrade that to “I’m smart.” Own that you’re the smartest person they’ve met. I know, it’s not easy AND you can do so without letting it get to your head. You also probably have enough culturally-influenced ideas about the bad things that happen to exceptional people to keep you from becoming Kanye West anytime soon.
The second challenge is learning to really see and hear what people are saying about you. My experience is that most people miss the praise coming to them in the moment because they’re so busy being over-critical of themselves or being uncomfortable about really owning the praise. So, just in case you missed it in the moment, here are some questions to help you find the gems people are sharing with you:
- What specific events brought you praise? What did you do at those events?
- How do you show up that enables someone else to show up more powerfully?
- What do people say they miss when you’re not around?
- What words do your colleagues routinely use when talking about you or providing feedback?
- What kinds of problems do people keep bringing to you to solve?
- What secret vulnerabilities do people share with you that they don’t share with others?
- What did you say or do that led to a visible aha or disarming moment for someone?
The answers to the questions above contain the seeds of the stories you should be telling other people. It’s as simple and as hard as sharing those gems with others.
Remember, it’s your job to unearth your story for others. (Tweet this–Thanks!)
People only see individual frames of the movie that is your story, but the more you stitch those individual frames together, the richer and more coherent your story will become.
p.s. What if the story people are telling about you isn’t good? Separate the haters and naysayers from the truth-telling yaysayers and ask the latter to point the way for you to actualize the vision you have of yourself. When the student is ready, a host of teachers appear.
Cate Friesen says
These are great questions! I am drawing on these for a presentation that I am giving next week called “Make your story work for me”. Thanks for the inspiring article.
Reesa Woolf says
Aww, you’re brilliant.