Create your story, write a story about you. Not a dull outline of your history since school days. One that tells the world something different about you.
Here’s the story of someone we know:
“When I was about fifteen I was playing volleyball with some friends on the beach. There were a few swimmers in the sea, maybe a dozen or so. It was a beautiful day, perfect weather for the weekend.
As I jogged to retrieve the ball, I heard a cry. I thought at first it must be a gull. I heard it again when I picked up the ball. Something – I don’t know what – made me look out beyond the breakers.
I saw an older couple apparently in trouble. The man was waving with his free arm and with the other he held tightly on the woman’s shoulder.
I yelled to my buddies, ‘Grab the net, now – quickly,’ meaning the volleyball net. I got everyone organized and four of us swam out. Two of us held the net and breast- stroked. We were all strong swimmers – had the waves been bigger we would’ve been surfing.
We threw one end of the net towards the struggling couple. Using his free hand and kicking hard in the water, the man managed to reach it. While he held on tightly, we swam back with them to the beach.
Somebody had called an ambulance, which arrived shortly afterwards and the couple were taken to hospital.
Fortunately they were both okay and we got a letter of thanks from them a couple of weeks later. Our local paper even ran a story on it.
I learned a lot about myself that day. I learned to trust my instincts. I could easily have dismissed their cry for help as a noisy seagull. I learned I could motivate people who had their minds on other things. I learned I enjoyed the responsibility of leading those guys to the rescue. Most of all, I learned how much fulfilment there is in helping others.
I apply these lessons to every aspect of my life.”
This man, now in his early forties, became a successful trauma surgeon and is chief of emergency medicine at a leading hospital. On his weekends off, he still plays volleyball on the beach.
Very few of us have such dramatic stories to tell. But, if you think carefully about it, you’ll find one or a series of events in your life that have influenced your attitude or behaviour and define your approach to life and career.
Share your story. The world is waiting.
Shape and polish your story until it dramatically demonstrates one or two of your most valuable qualities. Don’t try to cram in too many facts. Concentrate on the emotional factors, how the events you describe made you feel at the time.
Now consider how telling your story can help to improve your reputation at work.
Here’s a simple example using our story about the surf rescue.
If you’re being interviewed for a new job that requires leadership, along with quick and accurate decision making, it’s obvious how the story makes the point in a way that a statement like, ‘I have extensive leadership experience’ never could.
You must time the introduction of your story perfectly. If you tell it in the wrong context – when qualities other than leadership and quick decision making are being discussed – it won’t work.
People remember stories better than they remember facts and the stories they remember are those that moved them most.