You’ll never know the power of your story if you don’t share it. There’s actually a bit more to it than that but one of the most overlooked sources of our own power to influence and inspire others, and make our contributions to changing the world is our own life story.
What I have found, whether it be when coaching clients, connecting with friends, and/or listening to coworkers is that when someone is going through something, or just needs a pick me up, they don’t actually need a formula, three step model, or guide to living your most fabulous life. What they need is acknowledgement and relatability. No, this is not about stepping into someone’s reflection space and making it all about you. It’s about sharing your own truth in your experiences-the ups, the downs and everything in between- that helps other people. It literally has the power to change lives.
See, here’s the thing, when we share our story-who we are, how we’ve gotten to where we are, our experiences-it helps others realize that there’s more that is similar between us than different. It’s the acknowledgement that none of us has such uniquely wonderful and challenging seasons of life that no one else can relate. And even when things may seem to be so different in our experiences, even in the differences, there is inspiration in the distinctions that yield.
By nature, I am an observer, a listener. Interestingly though, those closest to me who really know me intimately would say, yes but she’s also a yapper. Even my mother who is he most patient person in the world will every once in a blue moon say, ok, Farah that’s enough…I need to digest. But what I m learning is that it isn’t natural for me to share much about who I am, where I’ve been , what I’ve done, what I haven’t done etc. It’s just not my natural tendency. But when I do, I observe a lightening up of the person or the group that I’m talking to. For instance, I just got back from brunch with newer friend and as we were talking, I shared some things that I thought she knew about and her eyes just kept lighting up. At least three times in our conversation, she said, “You know I’m just so proud of you and you’ve absolutely motivated me to “x” which I’ve been trying to do for a few years now. Now, I know someone who’s done it and I can too!”
Now, can I just tell you how much that literally just made my week! I don’t need anything else from today or this week! Seriously! And all this from just sharing with her some things about who I am, where I’ve been, how I’ve gotten ‘here’ and where I’m hoping to go. And guess what, no, I didn’t share just all the lovely wonderful, fun, happy, blissful parts. There are some real, real “in betweens”, the tough stuff, that I shared with her, not to vent, but it’s clear….. life is hard, it is tough, it gets ug u leeeee (ugly 🙂 , but the wonderful thing is none of those seasons are forever.
So what’s the problem….what’s the opportunity? It’s really about what we do with our story. See, in a world of insta this and snap that and tweet that I’m here and facebook that I’m going there, we actually don’t get to really hone in on what our story really is. The story of our life journey. For instance, a few years back during my first trip to Italy, I was taking pics all over Venice, Florence and Rome and posting like it was my j.o.b. What I had to also set aside time to do, especially in Venice with all that gelato calling my name every corner was think about what was happening for me in that season. So much came out of that for me. So much that I owned for myself about some of the tough stuff I had gotten through, and was getting through. So much that I now own being able to share with other people. So much that actually to date has inspired friends who say, “you know what, after seeing you do that I knew I needed to stop playing games and just take my own solo trip. “ There’s power in our story.
Unfortunately, we tailor our story, especially as it is unfolding. We message what we think others want to see and hear. We modify truths to try to make things more palpable for ourselves and others. Instead of saying that I grew up in a really tough neighborhood, I might say, well we weren’t in the best part of Boston but it wasn’t the worst while there’s some young person there now who needs to know that where you may be now doesn’t determine where you need to stay but you have the opportunity to determine where you will go. Beyond that we amplify pieces that we think are more enjoyable for folks. I work at Google and yes it has been ranked the best place to work for many years and I love the opportunities I get to seize every day. That’s what people want to hear and I’ll amplify that truth instead of another truth that every day I am exercising change management skills in an organization that has reached another milestone in its existence and you know what….it’s hard. It’s just not easy. Finally we minimize hard choices we’ve had to make because of the perception we’re afraid of others having of us. I’ve had to leave relationships that I fully enjoyed but just knew they weren’t good for me long-term. That goes for relationships with guys and friendships that just weren’t what they needed to be in realm of mutual respect, care, concern and love. And if I’m really honest, there’s been heartbreaking familial relationships that yup, I opted put me first and left pieces of those on the table walking away knowing that the choice was mine….and owned it!
See it’s not all lovely. It’s not all pretty. It definitely isn’t all glamorous or instagramable. But you know what. It’s all mine. It’s the story of Farah Bernier. And I love every bit of it because I recognize that every part of my story has value. Even the pieces I looooooooooathe. They’re all valuable. Every last piece. And where I might not see the value in my sharing, it serves someone else.
So what’s my point? Your life story to date is a reflection of the light you bring into this world. The light you can bring into someone else’s world. It all has value. So, don’t hold back. Don’t minimize it. Don’t tailor, modify, minimize any of it. Just own it, make it your own, then when invited and/or when opportunities just arise, share your truth. You just never know who may need to hear it because it compliments their truth because they realize they’re not the only one or even if it’s so different that it’s not actually complimentary, it still can inspire. It could amplify both your realities. Own the power of your story!