“Those who tell stories, rule the world.”
My friend Megan recently told me a story about a difficult former boss, Gary. She explained that he sought constant reinforcement, seemed insecure about decisions, and continually questioned his own work, as well as those he supervised. While Megan is a competent and confident person, she began to feel resentful and frustrated at work.
That all changed, however, when she learned, quite by accident, that Gary was a single dad who had made many sacrifices to raise his young son. Gary and his son, Chad, had even lived in their car for a short period of time.
By gaining some insight into Gary’s journey, Megan’s impression of him changed. She became empathetic about his lack of confidence. She respected Gary’s devotion to his son. She even began to like him.
People want to associate and do business with those they like and trust. In the early stages of a relationship, giving others a glimpse into who you are and why you do what you do is proven to foster likability and trust. Sharing your personal or professional “backstory” can be powerful.
I am a reluctant hero.
Who are you? Everyone has a “why I’m here” story. Even though it’s one of the most important things we can do, few of us shape, practice, or share our story.
My personal story fit into a “reluctant hero” theme. In essence:
I dreamed of being a lawyer, but after graduating law school, my past real estate clients kept calling and asking for my help. These were clients I’d worked with during summer breaks.
I was trying to get my law practice going, but previous clients kept asking me to help them buy another home, sell another home, or help out a friend.
I was flattered, but reluctant. My real estate business was getting in the way of my dream–practicing law.
Then it occurred to me that my calling, my greatest ability to help others, might be in real estate, not law. I discovered that my gift was selling in living rooms, rather than courtrooms.
The reluctant hero is one of several proven themes to make your story more impactful. Some other powerful themes include:
- Curation – learned over many years of research and experimentation
- Loss and redemption – when I fell on my face, I was determined to come back even stronger
- Epiphany – one day, out of the blue, it came to me
- Revenge – I was the kid everyone teased in school. This inspired my “no bullying” campaign
- Underdog – a David & Goliath story
- Ascension – a rags-to-riches Horatio Alger story
My story is true and best fits the reluctant hero theme–a real estate agent whose happy clients cajoled him to stay in the business.
Now it’s your turn.
What’s your story? Does it fit into one of these themes? Being able to effectively portray who you are and why you do what you do will help you better connect and develop both personal and professional relationships.