What’s the Story?
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations

When we are working with a client to co-create a conference for their community, part of our conversation always explores stories. They are the vehicle through which organisations formally and informally communicate identity, values, and culture. The easiest way for us as leadership development professionals to understand an organization is to listen to the stories they tell. This is where we discover what their dream is. And where we discover what they believe is not possible.

A story is simply an account of a series of events, and listening to our client’s stories reveals more quickly who they are than anything else we do. It reveals how they consciously and unconsciously see themselves. Why? Well stories are told from a point of view, often a narrator. And when we listen to a story, we are listening to a narration of a person’s perspective on something that happened. And that perspective brings in subjectivity.

So when we hear a story, we are actually hearing what someone has made up about something that may or may not have taken place as the narrator remembers it. And like all good narrators, the teller of the story imbues it with colour, feelings and emotion. It brings to mind Mark Twain’s adage to

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.

That matters because we believe the stories we tell are true. More importantly, our brains believe what we constantly tell them. Or as Henry Ford put it,

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

We create our future based on what we believe is or is not possible.

What does this have to do with me, you may be wondering? Well, we were blessed here in Ireland to have had many consecutive days of 25C+ weather. And during these warm days spent working (or not working, as the case may be), I found myself wondering about the stories I tell myself. What are the stories that I tell myself about me? What have I decided is or isn’t possible? With my business, Choose Leadership? With my relationship? With my son? With clients? With my ongoing inner leadership journey? Because whether I like it or not, I am living my stories every day. 

So… as your attention is turning towards the beach, mountains or a cottage, to a respite from your laptop and email, I wonder, what stories are you telling yourself about the first half of 2021? What have you made up? Where have you been the hero? Where have you written yourself as the victim? What have you decided you can’t do? What have you made up is beyond you?

As Rick Tamlyn, creator of “Play Your Bigger Game”, says,

“It’s all made up.”

That isn’t a call to nihilism but rather a clarion cry to pick up the pen and write our own story of our lives. Every day.

Here is our challenge to you: Consciously make up the story that you will live for the second half of 2021.

  1. What’s the setting? (Pick something important.)
  2. Who will be the hero of this story? (Hint: look in the mirror!)
  3. What’s the plot? (Consciously frame the narrative in a way that empowers you.)
  4. What’s the real conflict? (Man versus man? Man versus nature? Man versus himself?)
  5. How will this story finish? (Remember – you get to make it up because it’s all made up anyway!)

What story are you going to make up about you for the next 5 months? Get in touch. We’d love to help you write the story that makes 2021 a best seller!

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

You might also like…

Making Difficult Conversations Easier
Making Difficult Conversations Easier

I was recently working with a group of Senior Researchers, Post-docs and Laboratory Managers from across Europe. The topic: difficult conversations. A popular topic for leaders, new and well seasoned. What makes a conversation difficult? That’s partially individual,...

Stop Downloading – Start Listening
Stop Downloading – Start Listening

I recently wrote about the challenges that leaders face when attempting to listen generatively. We spend too much time downloading (to reconfirm what we already know, i.e. not really listening) or listening factually (to confirm or disconfirm what you already know,...

Vows and Forgiveness
Vows and Forgiveness

David Whyte’s 1996 poem, All the True Vows, from The House of Belonging, calls us forth into the world. Its first line, “All the true vows are secret vows”, poses an inquiry for leaders: What are the secret vows you have sworn? These vows are no idle covenants. They...

Share This