Your story is what makes you, You. So don’t airbrush out the tough bits.
When I go into organisations to help them unearth their story, the process can feel like ‘turning things inside out’. It’s my job to look under the bonnet, to be curious, to ask questions and to turn the spotlight on those hidden corners that haven’t been exposed before.
Sometimes in those hidden corners lie tough parts of the story: perhaps the first iteration of the product fell flat on its face or the co-founders fell out. I have learned that capturing and sharing these imperfections is an essential part of the process. These imperfections are what gives a business not only its purpose but also its distinctive spirit.
After all if you want your story to engage with your target audience - whether employees, investors or new hires - you need to give them some characters to root for and you need to set out the obstacles that are in the way. Because a long list of successes does not make for a good story.
The same applies to your personal life or career story. Sharing everything — including the ups and downs — means you can emotionally engage with your audience.
But it’s not easy. Four years ago I spoke at The Do Lectures (watch the video below). The brief was to tell a story I hadn’t previously told, to tell the truth and to be vulnerable. Standing on stage and telling my real story of why I quit my job to go independent - standing there being so open, sharing things I’d never shared before - was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It’s a very personal — and sometimes raw — story, but it’s a reflection of who I am and what makes me tick. Like the best stories, it’s a reflection of the truth: I turned myself inside out.
Of course my story isn’t unique. Most of us have experienced hard times in our lives, whether dealing with a bullying boss, a bereavement or depression.
But many of us turn down the volume on our real stories. We’re not comfortable sharing the cloudy chapters alongside the sunny chapters. We keep it all in. That’s only human. But I think we’re missing a trick if we airbrush our past.
Whether it’s a business or personal story, let’s be honest about what’s got us to here. If you find the courage to share your real story you’ll build empathy with your target audience. To use the power of storytelling to fuel your journey of growth. To say to the world: this is who I am, this is how I got here, and this is where I’m headed next.
I bring all I’ve learned about storytelling and use it for organisations who want to be honest with the world. Get in touch for help to share your story, and then watch it fly. iansanders.com/storytelling