It’s all about the story.

Controversially, I’m not starting off this year discussing the craft of goal setting or how to be super focused for 2016. Rather I wanted to share some thinking around stories and the important role they play in shaping our reality. If you find yourself asking a rugby sized team for their opinion on a challenge you have or wonder why you keep receiving the same results over and over this may present some enlightening insights into how you can change your story to positively impact your internal and external world.

Personal branding is the latest in a slew of buzz phrases in personal development land. And it’s certainly worth a thought. In marketing we talk about positioning, leverage, engagement and targeting however a large chunk of a product or service’s success is the consistent story which is being told internally and externally. Our personal brand or story is no different.

As we are all very aware our thoughts and actions create our reality. If we’re not happy with the results we’re getting in one area of life, the answer is simple. Change the thoughts and the consequential actions. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog the story you are telling your audience is also the story you are telling yourself – only you are the person hearing multiple times over.

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When we are ‘high on life’ from the potential of a new relationship, exciting career opportunity or weight loss achievement for example our flurry of positive energy is infectious. The majority of folk are drawn to our stories like bees to a honey pot and as Jon Gordon writes in The Energy Bus, those who are not are quickly dismissed as we float or fly between groups spreading gently or loudly our tales of success feeling confident, enthused and full of momentum.

However as we know life isn’t always like that. There are times when we might miss out on a promotion at work, a family member hurts us with unkind words or despite efforts our health goals are just not happening. We tell one colleague, we share it at home, next we tell a concerned family member and with some friends over brunch. Before we know it, we have a team of experts giving their opinion on our situation and we’ve given this story so much energy it’s has its own TV show.  This wasn’t our intention of course. We were simply after some insights.  But now the aftermath results in multiple phone calls to see if we’ve taken the advice, our instinct is clouded with judgement of others and we are becoming the starring role in our increasingly dramatic story.  It feels heavy, confusing and weighs negatively on our minds.

 

When our stories are having a negative impact we have a choice. We can choose a different script. Rather than buying into the story, we can choose not to give it as much energy.  We can decide to confide in the person who knows us best. Ourselves! Check in and query what is this actually about? If a person displays an attribute we don’t like, is this something we don’t like about ourselves? Are we sabotaging results by playing the lead role and what are we getting out of it?  If we want to air our thoughts and bounce ideas, choose only a couple of key people who aren’t going to turn it into an episode of Home & Away whether that’s a trusted friend, mentor or coach. And a final note own your story. Be wary of becoming a dumper, someone who offloads dramas onto others leaving them in the wake of our problems.

Let me be clear. This isn’t about being inauthentic and fabricating picture perfect stories of our worlds. Nor is it about suffering silently when we feel hurt by a situation and need help dealing with it. It is simply suggesting we become conscious of the daily scripts we are running, own them and be prepared to change course when they are no longer useful.

Some questions for you:

  • What is the main story you are running with right now?
  • How much negativity vs positivity is there?
  • Is it going to move you towards the life you want and make 2016 your best year yet?
  • Do you need to understand your story further and consider how it might need to be tweaked in order to move you forward?  laptop

As Rebecca Campbell wrote in Light is The New Black “She left the old story behind her and stepped into a new once upon a time”.

Find your true north.

Last week I asked a client who was pondering their next move What is it you actually want? They were stumped. I think often we can all be guilty of being on auto-pilot,  drifting into careers (and other areas of life for that matter) which we feel like we didn’t choose but know deep down we simply  weren’t in tune with what is really meaningful to us. It’s time to turn off the auto-pilot button people!

Next week I’m fortunate enough to be joining the media crew at the Wanderlust Festival on the Sunshine Coast. Wanderlust.com is a mindful living community created in the U.S. based on yoga, meditation and fun times where their brand ethos is ‘Find your true north’. I love this!

So what’s your true north and are you living and breathing it?

In the book “I could  do anything, if I only I knew what it was” author Barbara Sher points out how many of us end up in careers which have been heavily influenced by our parents without us even realising (sneaky!). Just list all the careers your closest elders wanted you to do when you were 12 and you’ll understand why you were so confused at high school and sought advice from the guidance counsellors dodgy ‘career-picking computer system’.Untitled design (3)

All too often we end up in roles where the work/ life balance is unsustainable, we like the job but not the people/ leadership, we just drifted in there, the actual work is disappointing or we ‘make it’ & then feel unfulfilled . But then it’s ok for a bit. And then it isn’t. And it continues until you crack & go walkabouts or straight into another role which looks different from the outset but is just the same with a different wrapper. And while I’m not suggesting their is a perfect job out there which will be 120% ace everyday I can assure you there are people who’ve found their true north and are thriving.

One of the most simple, yet useful guides to finding a career you love is this:

  1. What are your intrinsic drivers ? List everything you LOVE to do but then ask what is it about them you love.  Go back to childhood & right up to now.
  2. What do people close to you give feedback that you’re good at (I even did a survey of friends to find this out about 10 years ago & still missed the clues so pay attention!)
  3. What are people going to pay you to do.  If this is a new career you want to make sure it’s not just a hobby.

If you’re more a ‘realist’ try describing the worst job you could ever imagine and then flip it on it’s head for the opposites.  Or work with a buddy who asks you What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? tri

A key to finding your true north doesn’t have to start with how you make a living – it might be volunteering, joining a new club, contributing to your community or trialing out new activities which excite you. Just start something!

Want more? Check out Larry Smith in a funny, blunt review on why you’ll never reach the career of your dreams.

 

The Repeater

Life is speedily passing us by. We’re busy with family, career, friends, saving money, spending money, networking, socialising, renovating and enjoying holidays. We’re often so caught up bouncing from event to event we don’t even notice the consistent feedback we’re getting where a repeated action is not working for us. And even better we usually rationalise it by convincing ourselves ‘Well, that’s how it’s always been’.

Consider this. burgerYou go to Maccas (in an absolute emergency of course!) and order the same combo every time – not ‘lovin’ it’ but it’s what you know. Next time you order it again and are similarly disappointed with the taste.  Frustrated, you complain to your buddies.  When you head back again (potentially with a monster hangover) you order the exact same combo and are surprised it still tastes the same. Yes, you are in a spiral of a repeater combo mistake!

So yes, you guess it … you could  be ordering the very same combo in relationships, career, health – anywhere in life.

Where in life do you find yourself going ohhh wait a minute, I have been here before? The scenery, staging, lighting, people and content may be different but it’s the same combo and deep down you know it! Perhaps you’re an evidence gatherer searching tirelessly to make the right choice? A course-aholic – once you finish the next course then you’ll be ‘ready’? HFordDo you play the victim card a little too often – bad stuff always seems to happen to you? Are you a rescuer –  endlessly needing to save the world?  Do you have to be right all the time and are prepared to bring forth your shiny sword to defend yourself? Are you a ‘grass is always greener’ type never completely fulfilled or do you run at the speed of lightening when confrontation heads your way and have multiple unresolved disputes lingering in your mist? Do you trust people too much or not enough? Or perhaps you rush into decisions impulsively without considering all the consequences?  In The Monk Who Sold Ferrari by Robin Sharma it teaches how you will keep being served the same lesson in life until you learn it. Only then you can move forward on to your next exciting lesson – ole!

How to get out of Repeater Mode. 

Find your calm zone to sit and get real about your patterns. What repeated mistakes are you making? Where is it glaringly obvious but you’re so caught up in everyday life that they whizz by like the Mercedes in the Formula One. When you break down those repeated actions are they in all areas of your life or just some? It might be worth getting a trusted friend/ guide to help you on this (if you’re ready to hear it) as sometimes it’s easier for others to see.

Don’t give yourself grief about your mistakes – you had to experience them fully to really ‘get it’ & it’s where the growth happens. However be man or woman enough to admit you were probably getting something out of your repeater – you may’ve even formed a bit of a story about yourself that went quite nicely with your bag of fries let’s be honest!

Progress is a conscious choice. Commit to breaking up with your repeated pattern that is holding you back from moving forward and growing into an even cooler person. Acknowledge it, learn from it, then choose a different combo. It’s going to be easy to slip back into the old pattern because it feels secure and comfy so you’ll need to be on high alert and practice some solid self-awareness or have a friend/ mentor at the ready to keep you in check.

Reflecting on your repeated mistakes as with your weaknesses is a chance to take control of your life and having more say over how you shape it. If you leave it to chance, hoping the results will change by themselves you are potentially handing your life over to being shaped by accidental and external events.

TWB_260In The Winners Bible by Dr. Kerry Spackman comments that while self analysis is not glamouress task,  it’s where you build a platform for change “allowing you to grow and become an advanced soul, rather than an adult with a child’s personality”.

So get down and dirty with the realness of being a human – you’ll come out better off. As Henry Ford said “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”.

A short & sweet lesson in Being.

How often to do you find yourself rationalising with a friend  “Well once I have my fancy new kickers,  tropical break in Bali, sleek road bike, renovated villa or complete makeover then I’ll be cooler, relaxed, faster, more settled or hotter and then I’ll definitely be happy”. No matter what it is – a little or large purchase , a relationship, a new job, weight-loss or a move to a new city we cleverly convince ourselves this ‘thing’ will bring us that one step closer to being happy, fulfilled and completely 100% satisfied.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I L.O.V.E to shop. I know a change of scenery brings feelings of a fresh start and going from single to loved up is undoubtedly brilliant but there’s a lesson here which has been around for a while and always worth a refresher.

No matter where you go, there you areWhen you focus on the having instead of the being you are less satisfied and fulfilled long term.  You are also hugely attached to that exact want providing a feeling that you crave but once it stops giving you the feeling you look for a new shiny thing to fulfill youAnd as someone who has lived in 7 cities I can vouch for that fact that no matter where I go, there I am. I take the same stuff with me in a wee magical back pack and somehow it follows me everywhere I go!

So what to do? Turn it on its head. Instead of focusing on Have. Do. Be we consider the Be. Do. Have.

Focus on how you are being. Yes, you want to have a smaller bootie, a slick set of wheels or an apartment better than anything on The Block but how about looking at WHO you want to be first and then think about what you might be doing and having as a result of this change of focus.

If you have a job interview for example rather being attached to your shiney new job and all the great things it will give you why not focus on who you are being in that interview. Are you being eloquent, intelligent, analytical or smart and savvy – by focusing on who you are being you will be demonstrating how you will act in your potential job and then bring yourself closer to having more long term satisfaction. Similar to my moving of cities I often believed a new job would bring fulfillment but after the glitter and tassles wear off those same feelings of ho hum soon crept in because I had been so focused on what the job would give me rather than who I would be.

I read this great quote from renowned designer Diane Von Furstenburg yesterday in the April edition of #Next magazine  “I tell my grandchildren before they go to sleep at night, think of the person you want to be, and start having fun being that person. Because that is the person you’ll become”.

So who are you going to dream of being tonight? And how will that play out tomorrow?  We are human beings after all.