It’s amazing how stories have the power to revise the course of our lives. But why do stories captivate our minds, leave our hearts pounding and enchant euphoric emotions?
Our perceptions and actions are influenced by the stories we live. And even more profound and longer-lasting are the stories we chose to share.
It is because narratives that happen at a personal level influence my potential to lead. They are powerful catalysts to my ability to be the change that I want to see in others. Stories act as a diving board to a deeper meaning of my life or my launch pad to the greatness I am meant to live.
One of my annual goals is to keep my fitness and health in check. I even purchased a mountain bike. However, I kept on telling myself that I need to ease into basic fitness first before I could begin my riding program. Six months later, I hadn’t made any progress! All because I made excuses of lack of time to justify my laziness. These excuses became the story of my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I reflected on the frailty of life. I was still contemplating on “So, why are you alive today?” My realization was that I had sold myself the story of pain. The muscle aches and joint pains that afflict me after getting back into active sports or physical exercise.
I made a crazy decision, my story was going to change. The following day I hopped on my bike and rode for 16 kilometers. Two days later, I clocked another 28 kilometers. By the end of the week, I had clocked 70 kilometers! I experienced fatigue, but not a single muscle ache!
What had changed? Nothing else but the story in my head! And boy was I on fire!
Janna Marlies Maron made this profound statement: “The story I tell myself creates the reality I experience. It means that my life circumstances are bad only because that’s what I’m calling them; that’s the story I tell myself about what I am going through.”
She was sharing how writing helped her work herself out of depression. Our stories bring closure to the past and open up doors to an optimistic future.
“I’m not an artist. I set the camera up and tell my story.” ~Tyler Perry
1. Stories catalyze connection
People are drawn to your reality, not your theory. I was introducing a Leadership Safari to a group of people. I had made sure to use visuals and minimal text. The delivery was precise and mindful of the time.
During the question-and-answer session, one comment stood out for me. This participant loved the presentation. But what had more impact for him were the personal stories I shared. One was on how setting goals had transformed my thinking and action.
And I propose it is because real stories reside in our limbic brain. This part of our brain is responsible for feelings and gut decisions. It drives behavior. These stories welcome other people into our lives. They feel comfortable dealing with another human being rather than a marketer, CEO or expert.
2. Stories inspire action
Think about it this way. A story has an introduction, a complicated middle, and hopefully, a memorable ending. Crafting your story is living your life in a consistent way (vision, values, goals). It is your opportunity to be conscious of every word, action, pause or rejoinder.
For nearly 30 years, I ran from my story. It was a story that only I could direct the script. One part of my story that had stalled was forgiveness. It was a difficult chapter to write. But, no sooner had I written it than other narratives began to emerge. My choice to deal with my story inspired healing of no less than four other relationships.
“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger,” notes Ben Okri. I don’t think there is any other bigger action than an open heart. As it is from the abundance of the heart that we can live openly, love graciously and experience each other in truthfulness.
3. Stories bring closure
How do stories bring closure? Philip faced the gut-wrenching prospect of losing their child. Born at 26 months and weighing just 500 grams, their expected bundle of joy became a bundle of nerves. However, against all odds, their baby survived. He is a normal boy full of exuberance and fullness of life.
One day, while on a mission, Philip and his wife shared their story with an elderly couple in their 70’s. Although it was painful to dig into that past, little did they know that this elderly couple had lost their child before birth. They had never shared with anyone for about forty years!
In sharing their story, Philip and his wife helped this couple walk through accepting the loss of their baby. A seemingly simple story brought closure to a 40-year-old wound! Who would have imagined that a couple in their 30’s would impact two people twice their age in such a profound way?
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~Shannon L. Alder
I will live my story. I will not shy away from it. It is what makes me uniquely me. In embracing my story, I will live fully and serve unreservedly.
Q: How can your story relaunch and reinvigorate your life? Have your say by clicking here.