Telling Your Story

As Malcom Gladwell claims in his book The Tipping Point, you become an expert at anything if you do it 10,000 hours. I’ve got that in spades when it comes to listening to people’s stories. Part of my role as both a coach and a professional in the staffing industry is engaging with people daily about their life experiences – I’ve become a regular lifestory-listener over the past 25 or so years, and it never ceases to be an enjoyable experience for me.

At the end of the day, all you have is your story – or the ones that people tell about you. And in my experience of hearing dozens and dozens of personal stories, I have come to learn that how you tell your story is just as important – if not more so – than the story itself.

I have noticed that most people share their story from a not so certain frame of mind. They might start by saying,

“I know my career hasn’t followed a specific path, but ….” or,

“I have been in this role for X-number of years, and I am not quite sure how to transition to that next role, or how to help my employer know that I have what it takes to do this job ….”

More importantly, I observe quite often that people get caught up in where they have been, or where they are now, versus what they actually want to move toward. They say, “I want to leave because ….” versus, “I want to go do that because ….”

The latter sounds much more positive doesn’t it?

What you want to move toward is so important to the art of telling your story. When you look at it from that perspective, you are not stuck in the past, but you have embraced both the present and where you want to go. Your past helps you to tell your story, but ask yourself how it can help you create your future.

Case in point: a powerful story has a positive thread.

If you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to be in this role anymore,” instead of asking, “Why not?” ask yourself, “Where do I want to go now?” Instead of asking, “Why did this have to happen to me?” ask yourself, “How can this lead me to even greater things?”

At the end of the day, I know that most want to share their story in a clear, concise, positive way, but just haven’t found the right combination of words, or how to tie their story to what they want to achieve. That is alright! You can always modify and start to tell your story better by really listening to yourself. Or better yet, through telling your story to others and getting their feedback. In so doing, you will only get better at telling your life story in a more powerful, effective way.

Help people get to know you better by practicing your story with them. Ask questions of yourself, be curious, and find your positive and purposeful “what do I want to move toward” story woven throughout. Ask yourself what you really want, and how your adversities can work on your behalf. You will find yourself becoming a better storyteller – no embellishment or non-truths necessary.

In conclusion, anyone can master the art of telling their personal story! Curiosity, asking questions, and simply listening are a large part in my own success in helping people do so, and sometimes it takes listening very carefully to your own words …

So what career / family / success story do you want to share that reflects the best part of you and where you want to go? If you get stuck, let me know!

I will be happy to listen.

Can We Be Honest? Why Character Counts

Today I am reminded of what it feels like to be honest, or rather, to be on the receiving end of dishonest behavior.  Why is it that people have a hard time being honest?  What keeps people from being honest with themselves and others?

I had an experience yesterday that bummed me out.  Frankly, it had to do with another person’s dishonesty.  As I took some time to think it all through and learn from this experience, I began to call to mind one of Michael Josephson’s “Character Counts” radio programs I used to listen to during my dark-in-the-morning commutes (well, it didn’t really matter what I was doing, I always had time for Character Counts!) While his messages on the program tended to focus on the character building of youth, they were just as applicable for adults … if not more so. They provided reinforcement of timeless truths of a life of moral character through inspiring, captivating stories. You can read more into his work here.

As I went back and reflected on my own truths and those spoken in those radio programs, I began to do a little research on the topic of honesty. Spurred by my curiosity of wanting to understand people better, here is what I found.

What it takes to be honest and what it means if you’re not:

Honesty sometimes requires risk.  Honesty sometimes means you have to put your ego in check.   Revealing yourself and making yourself vulnerable can be challenging and can come at the most inopportune times.  Honesty takes personal growth and the more honest we are the more we grow for ourselves and in our relationships.

Maybe you made a promise and suddenly find you can’t keep it.  When do you come forward?  What happens the longer you wait?  It can really become a burden and a reality that if left without taking quick action creates an even bigger problem for you.  It weighs heavy on your mind, starts to distract you from your work, your relationships, your short or even long term goals.  Some people can even find you out before you have a chance to be honest, and that leaves you with other challenges like the question of your integrity, or your trustworthiness. And can I be honest? Dishonesty downright hurts!

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  Growth in life, relationships, work and your community takes honesty.  Among other things, an honest look at who you are, where you are, where you want to go, and how you are going to get there.  Sometimes honesty takes forethought for how you want to share a message – I put that under the heading of emotional intelligence – and honesty can take assertiveness with yourself and others.  Honesty can be scary, but more often, honesty feels good. It can really lighten your load and take pounds off of you in a second.

I am following my own advice today to see where I can be more honest.  What is sitting on your plate that requires honest communication?  Resolve to take care of that one thing today and see how you feel.  Check in with yourself tomorrow and take another step toward your personal growth.

Enjoy the journey, it’s worth it!!

 

PS: If you want more inspiration here is an excerpt pulled from the Michael Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics:

Trustworthiness:

Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal . Be reliable, do what you say you’ll do. Have the courage to do the right thing. Build a good reputation. Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country.

See more at: http://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html#sthash.6hBBhbnD.dpuf

 

 

This New Year, Take Time to Focus on the Small Things*

*Because the small things really are the BIG things …

The eve of the New Year is a time for contemplation and renewal.  It is also a time to look back at all we set out to do and what we accomplished this past year.  We resolve to set our resolutions and we promise ourselves we will keep them.  Sometimes we put them in writing, often we don’t. They are often about losing weight, finding a new job, bettering our marriage, etc.

I have a twist on this time honored tradition…. What if we each spent time focusing on a few small details and writing out our thoughts?  Thoughts we can return and add to throughout the year?  Here are a few questions to contemplate and please comment by adding your own:

What am I looking forward to in 2016?

Who do I want to hang out with?

Who will I build a better relationship with?

What do I love about my job?

What really matters to me?

What will I do more of?

What makes me smile?

Who makes me smile?

What am I grateful for?

Who am I grateful for?

What is my purpose?

Enjoy thinking and writing about what YOUR New Year WILL BRING you, or what you will BRING to it.  I welcome your response with a few of your own affirming New Year’s questions.   Until then, enjoy the Journey of the New Year and all that it has to offer.  A year where every day will be new to you and an opportunity to renew your focus on the small details….

Happy New Year!

The Company Picnic: Rethinking Employee Appreciation

Keeping your employees happy is an excellent way to boost morale and keep hard-working employees on board. The idea of the company picnic is tried and true, but what else is there? How do you show appreciation to employees without going overboard? Here are some additional tips on letting your employees know how much you appreciate them without breaking the budget or failing in your attempts.

A company picnic is a way to get everyone together and let families enjoy the generosity of a company. Whether you have it catered or make it a potluck, it’s an easy and often affordable way to give employees a little something extra.

Other ideas follow this line of thought. Take it one step further by making it a memorable event. Make it a family-friendly carnival day, have door prizes or include games. Prizes may include gift cards for restaurants or entertainment, a paid-day off voucher, gift baskets and more. Fun is the name of the game, and oftentimes you don’t have to spend large sums of money for these types of events.

If a full day or evening isn’t in the cards, consider a nice, catered lunch for your staff one day during the month or quarter. Have a little something for everyone to choose from. Again, catering isn’t always an exorbitant fee; choose something budget-friendly that is healthy and fun for everybody.

Want to take it even further? If there is an amusement park or other fun, exciting destination in or close to your town, consider contacting the venue and ask about a corporate discount for one day. Largely discounted tickets can save the company money while still providing a less-expensive day of fun for your employees and their families.

The idea isn’t to break the bank with these types of events, but rather to encourage a family-like feel among your employees while giving them some much-needed fun time to associate with work. Everyone likes a little positive reinforcement and, if you’ve got the perfect staff that is going above and beyond, remind them with a little relaxation and fun. It may cost the company some money upfront, but a boost in morale is priceless.

Harnessing the Strengths of Introverts in the Workplace

Thousands of marketers are gathered at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in Boston this week, sharing tips and tools for connecting with clients using great content. One of the guest speakers, Susan Cain, offered a message that is just as useful for HR pros as their marketing peers. Cain is the author of“Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” which examines the value of introverts in the workplace and the steps that leaders can take to maximize their leadership potential.

Among the highlights of her presentation:

  • The world tends to be biased toward introverts, even though they make up a third to half of the population.
  • The traits that get introverts in trouble are also the most valuable. They tend to stay with problems longer and proceed with caution.
  • Open-plan offices can be a struggle for introverts and can actually curtail productivity and creativity.
  • Organizations often devalue the importance of solitude for the creative process.

She also shared a few takeaways for leaders who want to better support the introverts on their team.

Rethink Meetings

  • Replace the agenda with advance action items. Group brainstorming isn’t as effective as individual brainstorming before you come together.
  • Halfway through the meeting, let people stop and write things down.
  • Try electronic brainstorming, which removes many of the groupthink barriers that derail in-person meetings.

Rethink Work Spaces

  • Carve out public spaces that make it easy to casually mingle.
  • Balance public spaces with private areas that allow for solitude.
  • Create transcendent spaces that promote contemplation.

Rethink Leadership

  • When identifying potential leaders, don’t look for the biggest talker. The core idea should matter, not the ability to pontificate in a particular way.

Written by  and originally seen on MonsterThinking