Fact and an uncomfortable one at that is; the stories we tell, to ourselves and others, predict our future. We are by nature story people, it’s a way of expressing ourselves, feeling valued, connected. It’s also a way of framing what’s happened or about to happen in a useful and productive way. Good stories move us – either into action or into retraction.
In which case I have 2 questions for you that I’d like you to reflect on and answer before you move on to read the rest of this article.
- What are the stories you tell yourself?
- What are the stories you tell others?
Let’s focus for a minute on question number 2, the stories you share with others. How many of these are around the problems and challenges you’re facing right now and how many are about what’s working, a recent success or what you’ve just learned?
Let’s play story snap
We’re always playing story snap – we share something and the other person counters. I’ll see your economic challenge story and raise you a threat of site closure. Boom, boom let’s share the gloom.
Now I’m not suggesting that we go into denial about what’s going on in our lives. There are times when it’s all going pear-shaped and we begin to question our capacity to make decisions, see the wood for the trees or just have the strength to hang in there. However, it’s important to remember duality, ebb, and flow, or that business is very much like seasons, just not quite as obvious with a calendar and daylight saving changes.
As I’m writing this the oak trees are shedding their leaves, they’re not hanging on panicking about whether there will be new leaves. They’re shedding, disintegrating before renewal, growth, and blossom. Neither are they looking at the conifers and feeling all unfair and unjust as to why there is no leaf drop for them.
If you can’t let go then you can’t create, grow or come back stronger. If you can’t let go then over time you will be weighed down and eventually become obsolete, a historically talking point if you’re lucky.
So when you share your tough stories be mindful of your reason, is it to learn, grow, let go, get support, or are you resisting, fighting and just plain feeling sorry for yourself.
When you get better and spotting your real reasons for sharing tough stories you’ll get better at seeing the reason someone else is sharing tough stories.
Challenge the story with compassion or judgment
When you hear a challenging story, how often do you respond with compassion? Empathy and tough love are qualities we need to develop to be effective as a leader. How else can we help the person view this situation, not so we minimise it, but in a way that expands their choices and options? What are they missing, what resources do you see in the story that they’re currently blind to or overlooking?
Then again do you find yourself judging and comparing? We judge a story and rather than help the person move through it we dispense our opinions and advice. Or we’re going through something far worse and we let them know.
Stories increase resilience
The more you share stories of learning, progress, and success (however small) the more you’re building your resilience. Ironically by sharing these, you encourage others to look for theirs and then story snap takes on a different direction and purpose. Then it becomes a valuable resource.
You can’t look at the floor and the ceiling at the same time, yet they both exist. Your stories reveal your current focus and indicate the future. So if something’s not working for you at the moment you might just want to pay attention to the stories you’re sharing.
About blue pea POD
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