“Things don't have to change the world to be important.” - Steve Jobs
Humans, as a rule, often believe in all or nothing, good or bad, significant or not… stories that put us at one end of the spectrum or the other.
Have you ever imagined that everyone else was having a better life than you were? Or that you couldn’t accomplish something that you dreamed of doing? Or that you had limits and boundaries because of the culture we work and live within?
Family, experiences and a host of other contributing factors shape the way we see the world. Our perspective then shapes how we make decisions and the stories we tell ourselves about those decisions.
We all run around every day with stories in our heads, from which we make decisions and assessments. For example, some of my entrepreneur clients tell themselves a story that social media is THE answer to building their business, or that speaking in front of a group of people “is not their gift,” or that their business will never grow beyond a certain level.
Some of my executive clients tell themselves a story that our culture forces them to act a way contrary to their nature, or that they have to take a promotion even though it doesn’t fit their life, or that they can’t possibly have a life and progress in their career.
Our stories are our choosing, since we are the ones who write them. Once we are aware of our stories, we can rewrite them. Here is an exercise to try:
- Think about a story that you regularly tell yourself. Write it down and capture the voice and details that are in your head.
- Read the story back and make sure that you’ve captured the “talk track” that you hear and repeat, in your head and out loud.
- Now, rewrite the story with the narrative and ending that you would like to choose. Read it and see what it would take to believe this story, changing anything that feels too far-fetched. Remember, you can continue to adjust your story over time, but moving from one side of the spectrum to the opposite end (a half full vs. half empty glass) is not necessarily the goal here.
- Write down what the change in this story means to you and your life as you move forward. Feel free to share your story and your journey of changing that story with a trusted advisor and ask for support and encouragement as you make these changes.
- Ask yourself what action you can take toward shifting your story and what process you will use to recognize your progress and adjust your path so you continue to make the incremental and bigger changes to create a different outcome.
The stories that we tell ourselves are our choice, and we are have the choice to change or adapt them. Changing your stories can clear a path for you to work through artificial barriers and beliefs that are limiting your life, and achieve possibilities that are not even on your radar today.