Think back to when you were a child. What was your favorite bedtime story, one you could hear over and over again? Now looking back, what was it about that story that intrigued you? The characters, a particular moral, a happy ending? Either way, it’s clear that stories, whether real or fictional, have the power to influence.
A few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation by Lani Peterson, an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker. In her 60 minute talk, she spoke about how powerful personal stories can be if constructed correctly. Her main points are summarized below:
- Stories need to be personal, emotional and connected to your values. If a story isn’t authentic, it loses its power. Having a powerful story positively contributes to your presence and identity.
- As you’re telling your story to others, take time to step back and evaluate. Check in with yourself and others within your organization to ensure the story you’re telling is aligned to what others know or hear about you.
- There is also immense power in listening, especially when you are new to a company and need to better understand their story and the motivations behind it. By listening, you can find common values between you and your colleagues or your company at large.
After listening to Lani, I reflected on what she said and really thought about my own story. I’d venture to say your personal and professional narratives are one in the same. You might need to tailor it to your audience. I asked myself the following questions to strengthen my story:
- What do I want to be known for?
- How did I get here/what did the journey look like?
- If I wasn’t in the room and someone asked about Alex, what would I want that response to look like?
Your story is essentially your personal brand. It’s a tool you should use to build your credibility and establish strong relationships with others. What I find challenging when developing your story is aligning it to your company’s values while also stay true to its meaning. Like Lani said, a story must be authentic to be powerful. But, it’s also important to message it correctly so it resonates with others within your organization.
As I move forward in my career journey, I plan to take Lani’s tips with me. I’ll also continue to evolve my story as I experience new things or challenges. How have you created a career narrative? Has it changed over time?