Your story is unique. It's comprised of many thousands of stories that weave together to make you who you are. Your stories define your success, your reputation, your ambition, and your self-esteem.
The best part about the "stories of you" is that you have power over the collective message they send. You can be intentional about the choices you make so your treasure trove of stories is overflowing with victory. Purpose to make strong choices, build solid relationships, pursue worthy goals, and collect great stories along the way. All of those life experiences will support your difference-maker-leader status.
On the other hand, you can harness the negative choices, events, and circumstances from your past to use for greater good in the future. We've all made mistakes; that's a given. Instead of letting the tough times and poor choices hold you down, let them be an example to others as you make as difference in their lives.
Everyone has had mountaintop moments when it felt like everything was going well, and we've all had rock-bottom times when it felt like it would never get better. Look back and choose from both your victorious stories and your hard times to find your story. While your life experiences do shape you and propel you, they don't have to define you. You get to decide the message you want to send to those you influence. It isn't disingenuous to craft your message in this way; this is leadership.
An impactful life story contains three main elements:
- Truth. Your story must be the full truth. No embellishment is allowed because if you know you're not being completely honest, you won't be effective. And it will show.
- Pivotal moment. An audience (1 person or 1000 people) is looking to identify with you in some way. It's in the moment of your big decision, deep regret, crippling grief, or painful sacrifice that they recognize your humanity. That's when they let their guard down and prepare to receive the most important part.
- Call to action. There's no point in telling your story if not to change people in some way. Is your message seeking to inspire others to reach for more on the job? Is it to overcome some personal struggle like health and fitness needs or single-parenting woes? Or maybe you have a story that can empower someone to become free of an abusive situation. What message can you take from your story to make a difference in the lives of others?
Over the past weeks we've been exploring the idea of how to become a Difference-Maker Leader. The last post in this series was about the simple fact that you have to live it to share it. How can you help someone else through something or lead someone else to something if you've never experienced it yourself?
It's impossible to lead others in that way when you're comfortably tucked away where you've always been. You must have firsthand knowledge of the lessons you will teach as you lead others. If you never do, you'll never know...and you cannot lead. There must be victories and skinned knees. ~The Difference-Maker Leader: #3 In the Arena