Understand the power of telling your story.
Every success story begins with the desire to progress; to move beyond the current experience to something better.
When you are leading a team through change, the first step to uncovering your full potential is realizing the power of your story and claiming ownership of it. No matter what stage you, your team, or your company are at, defining the story you want to tell and being intentional with it will give individuals a competitive edge and allow you teams to accelerate progress and transform into a high performance team.
Why do our stories matter?
Picture a professional athlete standing on the sidelines before a competition. What do you imagine is going on in their head as they prepare to compete? The answer, no matter what kind of athlete you pictured, is this: they are focusing on their success story.
Before a competition, winning athletes remind themselves that they deserve to be there, they know what they need to do, and that they will win. Star athletes know that the confidence to achieve great things is not born from negative self-talk.
This is true for all of us, whether we are in a stadium or in front of a customer. The professional story you choose to tell yourself is the difference between going for the gold and throwing in the towel.
Your Inner Voice is the Narrator of Your Story.
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
– Henry Ford
Your inner voice reflects your values and puts a filter over the information you take in. Your thoughts directly influence how you see the world, and they determine how you will behave as a result.
For example, if you look at a door and tell yourself it is probably locked, you will either choose not to bother trying to open it or you will try once and give up when it doesn’t budge. On the other hand, if you tell yourself a door is probably just hard to open, you will put more effort into opening the door… and you might find that an extra push is all it took.
Of course, not every situation will be as simple as opening a door, but the concept remains the same. The way you think and the beliefs that you hold will either push you to take action or inhibit your progress.
Individual Stories Unlock Personal Potential
In order to bring your greatest talent forward in your work, you need to be intentional with the story you tell yourself. Check your narrator: are they cheering you on or holding you back?
Just like a star athlete must physically train their body to remain at peak performance, you must train your mind and be intentional with your thoughts in order to successfully perform in your career. You can practice drowning out your “inner bully” with a louder “inner cheerleader.” Like any other workout, this gets easier with repetition.
Team Stories Create a Shared Vision of Success
Teams create their own stories, too. Having the right team story fosters clarity and unified commitment to the success of your mission, keeping everyone on track and at their best. The real magic happens when everyone owns their unique strengths and steps naturally into their roles, expediting the process of collaboration through deeper understanding of your connections to each other.
The story you tell as a team has the potential to shift your team’s culture, and it is important to make sure the change is positive. If you are not intentional with your team’s story, you risk allowing a negative culture to develop on its own. Symptoms of a negative team culture can include poor communication, lack of engagement, missed opportunities, and frustration.
Your Story Affects Your Customers, Too.
High performance teams share powerful stories that allow your customer to be the hero. Your business story builds trust, establishes connection, and inspires action among your clients. The importance of being intentional and owning this story cannot be overstated.
When a team of athletes is performing at the top of their game, the stadium fills up. People are attracted to the powerful energy that comes with great potential– everyone wants to back the winning team. When your team is in the zone, you produce high-quality work that sends a clear message to your clients: “You’ve come to the right place.”
Take Ownership of Your Story by Asking 4 Questions
The challenge to living our story is that we do not slow down long enough to plan out the plot, so we simply “manage through” whatever story unfolds. This is exhausting, inefficient, and does not drive success or inspire significant work.
You can begin to write your story today. I invite you to set a journal ritual this week by taking a daily moment to pause and reflect on the following:
- What does success look like (pick a specific time frame and be consistent, 1 year.. 5 years… 25 years…)?
- Which of my unique gifts will contribute the most to this success?
- What hurdles might get in the way, and what will I do to overcome them?
- When this success is achieved, what will be the lasting impact?
At the end of the week, come together as a team to discuss what you wrote and identify the common threads that link your stories together.