I work with many entrepreneurs, good people building businesses with purpose. They are smart, dedicated and hard workers. They will generally go out of their way to support and highlight other people’s work.
Yet when it comes to telling their own story…
It’s often a real struggle.
This is partly situational. How do you tell a powerful story about yourself when you don’t feel at all powerful? How do you own your success before you’ve made a sale? How do you confer upon yourself the authority the world has yet to confer upon you?
Owning your story really helps. It’s the secret confidence boost you most need.
Your compelling Why? story is already here. You don’t need to do anything extra to be able to tell it. You don’t need outside validation or one more certificate. You just need to identify your story and share it. The more you share your story, the less imposter-y you’ll feel.
Start by accepting that you are the hero or heroine of your own story. There is no room for shrinking or holding back. You have already climbed mountains, survived disastrous setbacks and managed to pull through. This is the story the world wants to hear. We are always rooting for a good hero(ine).
I tell people who are horrified by the thought of exposure to think of sharing your story as an act of generosity. You agree to be an inspiration for others.
Some tips that can help you as you get started.
- Beginnings matter. Just like with a flight take-off, your opening sentences will draw your audience in and help them feel that they’re in safe hands. Be punchy! Think about your business. Locate the feeling of thrill inside you around it. Now trace that thrill back to your childhood. What is a memory that pops up? This is often a good place to start. Are there sounds, smells or textures associated with this memory? A story becomes more universal the more it is rooted in the particular. Include some key sensory detail — a little goes a long way.
- Tell us about an obstacle you’ve faced in your journey. Make it high stakes or we won’t care. When did you feel like giving up? Or face the wrath of your boss or disapproval of your friends to follow your path? In a story, we call these threshold moments, times when you step out of one reality and into another. Bring us along with you by telling us how scary that felt. What gave you courage?
- Identify the thresholds in your story. A threshold is a change that can be internal (an insight, a change of mindset) or external (a move, a new job). Giving this a place allows your audience to feel inspired that they too can step through whatever threshold is showing up in their own life. Thresholds signify a change of energy in a story. Start a new paragraph or pause in your telling to allow your audience to feel this impact.
- Credit an ally. Who is the wise woman by the well in your story? The unexpected wizard who opened doors? Weaving outside help into your story is generous. It debunks the myth that we are on our own and reminds your audience that help is never far away.
- Don’t be afraid of a strong ending. Your ending is what stays with your audience. It helps them to feel the journey has been worthwhile. In journalism, an ending is called a“kicker” and writing a good one is considered an art. A good ending is one, maximum two sentences. This is the place to wax lyrical or get lofty! Bring your story full circle. Tell us why it matters.