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”.

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.