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

 

 

How to Manage, Motivate and Engage Your Team

Every team is comprised of various personalities, tastes, learning styles and opinions. For managers and leaders, it’s often a challenge to find a one-size fits all approach that will work for everyone. The truth is, a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work, especially when you are dealing with diverse backgrounds and multiple generations.

To manage, motivate and engage your team, consider these important factors:

Learn about your individual team member by finding out…

  • How they like to receive their information
  • What motivates them
  • What their values are
  • How they like to receive constructive feedback
  • What personalities they work best with
  • What are their strengths (and weaknesses)
  • What they are passionate about
  • What type of learner they are
  • Their cultural or generational differences
  • What their hot buttons are

When you understand the individual people on your team, you can begin to customize how you engage with these people. Some might need more hand-holding while others need you to “tell it to them straight.”  When you approach someone with a one-size fits all approach, you are likely missing the mark. One wrong word can demotivate your team member. However, if you take the time and energy to think about how they will react to what you are presenting, you’ll likely get more people on board, who are more actively engaged and self-motivated.

It’s not to say that you should cater to your team members. It’s simply a matter of managing using the knowledge that all people are different and when we treat everyone the same, it’s likely to leave some people feeling discouraged and demotivated. Don’t accidentally demotivate your team by not learning about them.

When you first hire, it’s a good idea to initiate a few standardized personality tests. This will help you understand what kind of person you have working on your team. It’s also a great idea to do this before you hire and to ensure the person fits in with your culture.

All these pieces and components play a role in keeping a healthy, productive team in tact.

Be creative and find ways to engage employees at their level. When you do this, you’ll build a loyal team and you’ll never go back to a one-size fits all approach.