Tag Archives: Listening

The Lost Art of Storytelling

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.

storytellingA 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 andbranding 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?

Upside Down

I started January 2015 with a brand new planner, a series of written-out resolutions and a game plan to make this year the best one yet. Full of good intentions, I resurrected my workout routine and meal prepping, determined to be healthier and happier in 2015.

Then, two weeks into this glorious new year, my world was turned upside down. A loved one passed away. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the first one to experience this and certainly won’t be the last. No matter how much you prepare, even the most type-A person doesn’t know what to do. Plans go out the window. You forgot what the word routine even means. You’re frozen, paralyzed  with a variety of emotions, unsure of how to get yourself unstuck. It’s a very weird place to be.

GreifSo you go through the motions, you say goodbye, then you’re left at home with more food and flowers than Whole Foods. Now what? Yeah, I can’t answer that question for you. I barely can answer it for myself. The few things I do know include:

  • You have to grieve. That’s going to look different for each person. But cry if you need to, yell if you must. Go through pictures and talk about your loved one. Do whatever you need to so you can accept this loss.
  • Listen to your body. True, there is some level of forcing yourself out of the rut you’re in, but your body will tell you what it needs. After a week of Italian cold cuts, my body told me to find a salad!
  • It’s going to look different for each person. When a loved ones dies, those who remain will react in a variety of ways. No two reactions are going to be the same. Just like you have to grieve, so does everyone else.
  • It’s ok to be upside down. Literally, that’s how I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. My mind would wander, I’d experience a wave of emotions all at once. For me, this is not how I operate. I have a schedule, a plan, for each day. Going rouge is not my thing. But, this is a traumatic experience, so I gave myself the permission to go off the grid. This is not an everyday occurrence, so your everyday gameplay won’t work.

I think I’m back to normal. I feel better than I did a week ago and assume I’ll feel even better in a month. This is the new normal and accepting that is the only way to move forward. Having concrete routines in place before all of this did help get me back on track. More about the importance of routines and how to develop them in my next post!

ROC Race Sprints Past Shutdown

A couple of months ago, my friend and I decided we were going to run the ROC race in Brooklyn. The ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Course) is a 5K race held all over the nation that has different obstacles. From wrecking balls to water slides, this race has it all! We were super excited to run the race this upcoming weekend until the government decided to shut down.

The ROC race was being held at the Aviator Sports & Events Center, which is part of a national park. Since the government shutdown, all national parks have been temporarily closed, thus postponing this race. Obviously, race participants were not happy, myself included. Not only was I training for the race, but I also paid a decent amount of money to run. The ROC race understood all of this and responded in the best ways possible. Here are the couple of actions the race took to ensure all NYC race participants were happy:

roc-race1) Constant communication: The race has sent me at least six emails since the shutdown began. They provide detailed updates about the race, our registration and any other developments. Just this morning I received a reminder to not pick up our race packets since the race is postponed. Some may think it’s overkill, but I like being informed and updated.

2) Updates on all outlets: Not only have we gotten email communications, but the ROC race has done a great job of updating their website FAQs and posting on Facebook to keep everyone informed. Their Facebook updates are particularly helpful as it’s easier to read that on my iPHONE.

3) Contingency plans: The ROC race has been very intentional with their planning. They could not have possibly known the government was going to shut down and postpone their race. They have set deadlines and already secured the space for next weekend, in the hopes that the shutdown will be over by this coming Monday. They are also taking race set-up and participant notification into consideration: If the shutdown isn’t over by Monday (October 14), they will not run the race that upcoming weekend. They are not trying to rush and just get the race done. They care enough about their participants to make sure the experience and execution are flawless.

4) Listening skills: When the race was first postponed, runners had two options: Run the race on the new date or transfer registration to another ROC race in a different location or on a different date. Once that news got out, people reacted strongly and were upset that they couldn’t choose a refund instead of a registration transfer. Race leadership responded quickly and created two additional options: a complete refund or a registration transfer to a friend. This absolutely showed how the race is primarily concerned with their runners’ experience and are willing to change plans in order to accommodate more participants.

Overall, I think the ROC race handled a difficult situation really well. Of course, there are still unhappy participants and everyone still wishes the race would run this weekend. But, given the circumstances, race leadership dealt with this mini crisis in a positive and professional way.

Why Is This SO Hard?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I thought about writing a post all about love but that would be one giant cliché. Instead, let’s keep moving on this Truth Challenge. Today’s prompts were especially hard for me.

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.

I started the search for these answers by asking my 8 and 9-year-old siblings. Samantha’s response was she likes how I watch her dance. Antonio said I make the best pancakes. Clearly, these kids are the best and always make me feel like a rockstar. They did start the wheels in my head turning.

I’d venture to say the one trait people compliment me most on is my loyalty. I am beyond loyal; I will do anything for the people I love. I will work extra hard on a project I’m passionate about. The one I thing I know I’m good at is being there and showing up for the people I care about. I think my friends and family will agree when I say, if I love you, I will give you everything I have.

Something I never get compliments on is probably my ability to listen. Well, that’s not entirely true. If you need to vent, I will absolutely listen to you and give you my honest feedback. But, I am much more a talker than a listener. Once I start talking, it is usually very hard to get me to stop. One of my personal and professional goals is to be a better active listener and to curve my talking enthusiasm.

Do you agree with my compliment assessment? Share your thoughts with me!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and loving thy self, have a listen to Jennifer Hudson’s jam from Sex and the City.

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