One of the perks of teaching a graduate class at NYU is that I get to interact with students who come from all over the world with the most fascinating backgrounds. I encourage them to share their stories. As I see it their stories are part of what makes up their personal brand and it’s important to get clear on what that is – especially in today’s world where your digital footprint means so much.
This always proves a challenge.
Even more so than the telling of the story is in the owning of it.
By owning it I mean really standing in it.
Every inch of it.
The good and the not so good.
All the twists and turns.
The bumps and detours along the way.
The stuff that might embarrass us if we allow it to.
It sounds easier than it is.
Which is why most of us don’t do it.
This lack of ownership is not limited to my grad students.
We trivialize our achievements.
We ignore the parts of us that others see as assets.
We think our stories aren’t interesting enough.
We compare our stories and see ourselves falling short.
We lack belief in who we are and what we are doing.
We forget that what makes a story good is all those twists and turns we’ve taken.
As someone who has reinvented three times my story has evolved over time. Each time I stumbled a bit before I got going. But when I started to own the place I was in my story – my authentic self took over and that’s when it all started to flow.
When we own our stories we become a magnet. People want to know who we are. Read our stuff. Buy our products. Hire us. Maybe even take us on a date.
So how does one own their story?
You start by learning to like it. To see all the steps you took to get you to now as having purpose and value.
It might require a mild out of body experience in which you step back and look at yourself as if you are someone you have never met – just some stranger you struck up a conversation with at a cocktail party.
Or simply an hour with a pen and paper writing down all those things you’re good at, have experience with, the places you’ve lived, the adventures you’ve embarked on, the mark you want to make on the world, what makes you smile.
The more convinced you allow yourself to become that your story matters – the more you own it. And when we own our stories – everything changes.
So tell me – are you owning your story?