Know How to tell Your Story.
Your Story Might Be Yours, But Is It Really A Story?
Have you ever stopped to think about all it took to become you? Like others, it’s likely that your teenage years launched you on a quest for identity that probably brought a fair amount of disorientation, experimentation, and even fear.
And that was just the beginning! As you matured, you may have developed a sense of identity, but never quite shook the fear of not fitting in.
Yet, somehow you ended up with a sense of identity that supports you. And if you’ve ever been through a structured assessment and introspective process you’ve probably attained even more clarity and confidence in your sense of self. Well, at least until confronted with the need to tell your story. At that point, self-knowledge probably seems to evaporate!
Still, in today’s social media-driven world, if we want to connect with our audiences, we are increasingly challenged to tell our story. That’s a good thing. However, what is not so good is the kind of guidance that suggests we create our stories. You know, to make them up. Somehow, the thinking goes, we can decide how we want people to see us, and then craft a story to supports that. Seems inauthentic, doesn’t it?
To confuse things more, today, you can find a psychological assessment that will identify your “story type” – that is, a personification of factors that contribute to your success. This is probably a good thing. However, while you may gain valuable insights, it would be a mistake to construct your story around a type. While you may be conveying valid information about yourself, if you’re not describing life experiences, you’re not really telling your story.
Whether you’re starting from assessment results or not, if you want to uncover and share your story, consider these tips:
Start with your audience in mind.
If the purpose of your story is to connect with your audience, you need to identify what about you will most resonate for them. Your story needs to show that you “get it,” so you are perceived as “one of us,” and begin to earn a level of trust.
Show how you persevered in the face of uncertainty or adversity.
Storytellers know that with no conflict there is no story. The same applies to you. So, show how you became who you are as a result of having overcome conflicts, doubts, turning points, and even flaws. These make you human and authentic, and enhance your chances of establishing an emotional connection.
Convey a clear theme that shows what you stand for.
While events move your story forward, its true backbone – and what anchors the value that you bring to others – is your theme. So, dig beneath your experiences to uncover the values and beliefs that drive your vision for what’s possible in the world. Your theme is your why, and it’s what fuels the difference you make for the people you serve.
Ultimately, if you want to tell your story, you need to share your journey.
March 12, 2013 by Walter AkanaWalter Akana HeadshotWalter Akana is a Reach Certified Personal Branding and Online Identity Strategist. Founder Threshold Consulting, he works with mid-career professionals and executives. His career advice has been featured online at marketwatch, cnnmoney, and online.wsj. He is a long-time blogger, and avid user of social media.