Posted by: Tayo Akinyemi | April 19, 2011

Storytelling and the Link to Personal Impact

If you read a lot, there are times when you “hear” the same message from multiple sources.  That’s when it’s time to pay attention.  This happened to me with a seemingly innocuous topic–storytelling.  First, I watched Peter Guber’s take on the importance of storytelling in a corporate setting via the BigThink.  Then I read two stellar posts by Sasha Dichter about having enough confidence to keep pace with one’s personal and professional evolution and not deciding what you can’t do without giving yourself a chance.  Finally, I found (and shared) Tony Schwartz’s instructive blog on how to re-wire yourself for optimism.

My primary take-away from all of this is that we spend a lot of time telling ourselves things that simply aren’t true.   We talk about our limitations, weaknesses, and tendencies as if they were presented to us on stone tablets.  More often than not, we use personal labels, e.g.  introvert, extrovert, poet, numbers-jockey, etc. to excuse ourselves from situations that will push and challenge us.

Why is this a problem?  Because I’m pretty sure that many of you who do this are still pretty successful.  The problem is that we rob ourselves of opportunities to do so much more, without meaning to.  As Sasha puts it, “[if we] slam doors before we’ve ever tried to walk through them…then we have no one to blame but ourselves when our path forward isn’t what we’d hoped it would be.”

For those of us who are committed to living impactful lives, this is an unacceptable conclusion, point-blank, period.

So the next time you’re tempted to tell a negative story about your ability, don’t.   You’re doing yourself and the people you serve (who, incidentally, kinda need you to be at your best),  a disservice.  Plus, as one of Tony’s commenters rightly pointed out,  “When the truth is unknowable, believe the flattering outcome. You will turn to more useful actions as a result.”

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