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YOUR Story: Who’s writing it?

January 19, 2011

“Your life is the most important story you will ever tell, and you’re telling it right now whether you know it or not.”

Jim Loehr, The Power of Story

Why is your “story” crucial? Our stories have a tremendous impact {in a really good OR really not-so-good way} on each of our lives. My hope for this post is to provide a bit more awareness to this topic by sharing a little of what I’ve learned.

First, a few thoughts {based on my own personal experiences} on designing your life {writing your story}:

  • Have a vision:  the more detailed, the better.  {If you were writing a book, you’d start off with an outline, right?!}
  • Know what you value most and make sure your story is aligned with these things.
  • Include the fun stuff!
  • Your future is still in draft form, your past is not. Actually, I see both of these as good things: 1.  Your past is just that, “past.” There’s not a thing you can do to change it. However, there are many lessons there {at least I’ve had many from my own past : )  LEARN from them! 2. Today and tomorrows can be written in so many ways. You are the author!
  • Understand the role your past is playing in your present chapter.
  • Make revisions along the way.  Don’t settle for “stuck.”
  • The key to turning your vision into a reality:  ORDER.

Having a vision {giving thought to how you want your story to play out} is a wonderful thing.  But, understanding what’s going on “behind the scenes” is C R U C I A L.  These are a few roadblocks {that you may not even realize are there!} to living the story you wish for:

#1:  The story you are currently telling yourself

I’m fascinated with the role our subconscious mind plays in our lives. The more I learn about this topic, the more I realize the power it has over our story.  And, our voices…  In The Power of Story, Loehr discusses how powerful our “private voice” is and the importance of ensuring it matches {not conflicts} with our “public voice.” He also discusses false assumptions stating that “if we don’t exhibit the courage to look at things somewhat coldly and carefully, then our somewhat {or largely} false story becomes THE story.”

#2:  The role your past chapters are playing in your present

I love anything by Martha Beck – found this quote from an article she wrote in O Magazine: “Getting bogged down in old stories stops the flow of learning by censoring our perceptions, making us functionally deaf and blind to new information. Once the replay button gets pushed, we no longer form new ideas or conclusions—the old ones are so cozy. But becoming present puts us back in reality, where we can rigorously fact-check our own tales.” 

#3:  Living a story someone (or something) else is writing

“Funny: We enjoy the privilege of being the final author of the story we write with our life, yet we possess a marvelous capacity to give ourselves only a supporting role in the ‘writing’ process, while ascribing the premier, dominant, true authorial role to our parents, our spouse, our kids, our boss, fate, chance, genetics, bad weather, or lousy interest rates. Anyone or anything but us appears to have more influence in moving the metaphorical pen across paper,” says Loehr.

Attention Parents: A critical factor: “It’s not just about you.” {my husband is good at reminding me of this…} It’s not just our own story.  Our children’s chapters {if you have them} are being written at this moment. As parents, we are like the Executive Producer / Editor of their stories… at least while they are under our roof!

This is a lot of heavy stuff!  There’s tons out there on this topic, including Loehr’s amazing book, The Power of Story {which helps you understand your “old” story and helps you write a “new” one.}  I’ll end with one last quote from his book:

…I’ve come to see that, amazingly, the key to almost all of our problems…is faulty storytelling, because it’s storytelling that DRIVES the way we gather and spend our energy. I believe that stories – again, not the ones people tell us but the ones we tell ourselves – determine nothing less than our personal and professional destinies. And the most important story you will ever tell about yourself is the story you tell TO yourself. So, you’d better examine your story, ESPECIALLY this one that’s supposedly the most familiar of all.  “The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and never scrutinize or question,” said paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.

Participate in your story rather than observing it from afar; make sure it’s a story that compels you. Tell yourself the right story – the rightness of which only YOU can really determine, only YOU can really feel – and the dynamics of your energy change. If you’re finally living the story you want, then it needn’t – it shouldn’t and won’t – be any ordinary one. It can and will be extraordinary. After all, you’re not just the author of your story but also its main character, the hero. Heroes are never ordinary.

In the end,  your story is not a tragedy. Nor is it a comedy or a romance or a thriller or a drama. It’s something else. What label would you give the story of your life, the most important story you will ever tell? To me, that sounds like an epic.

End of story.

Jim Loehr, The Power of Story

Published by Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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