There is incredible power in telling our stories. But most people don’t. Even most leaders don’t. We clam up and play it safe. We back off from seizing the opportunity because we think it is impossible. So we don’t tell our story and don’t write our book. Meanwhile, we want more power. We search for new opportunities when we already have one at our fingertips. Why? Why do we clam up when we have a powerful story to tell? Why don’t we write our book?
This is a critical question for any any leader looking to leverage their leadership power. Let’s explore seven of the most common reasons.
First, most don’t think their story is powerful. My parents raised eight children on a shoestring budget and every one is a success. There are no criminals, no drug addicts and no dropouts. They dismissed that success as ordinary and simply responsible. “It is what any good parent would do.” they insisted. But I knew when I heard those stories again that there would be power in those pages. So I wrote Humble Homesteaders and I am so glad I did. You have stories just like these. But do you see the power? What they considered ordinary back then may be exactly what others need to succeed today. What story have you classified as “ordinary” that has incredible power for your team today? Appreciate the power in your story.
Second, most think telling their story is bragging. They think it is all about them. In the same way, many leaders think possessing power is one of the privileges of their position. Both are wrong. Writing a book and telling a story is like leadership, It is not about you – is about the team success. Readers are looking for meaning in their own lives and will listen to your story and read your book for the power they find to transform their own lives. (Read that sentence again. Let it sink in.) So, yes, you may be the main character in the story and you may be the leader in your organization, but you are merely the means to a powerful end. The power is in the results we create so forget the ego. .
Third, many worry that their story won’t be popular and that they won’t sell a lot of books. Potential authors often have dreams of grandeur, visions of unbelievable success with their books becoming best sellers and movies watched by millions. That is a fun fantasy but a rare reality. They withhold the story and never write the book because they don’t think it will be a success. Let’s transform that thinking. Sometimes the most powerful story is the one that makes the significant difference in just one life or help to get through one difficult time. At other times, the best results come long after our time, like many famous artists, the power of the story becomes a masterpiece long after we have passed. So many are blinded by unrealistic expectations and quit before they start. Selling books isn’t the litmus test for telling a powerful story – changing lives is.
Fourth, many fear that telling their personal story will expose their mistakes and minimize their power. I remember one family member joking that I was “telling family secrets.” In the same way, many leaders fear telling their story will reveal sensitive information that could be used against them – so they clam up. What a mistake. Leaders generate power when they share and teams produce more when they share the passion and vision of the leader. Share your story.
Fifth, some don’t think they know how to tell a story well and many more don’t think they could ever write a book. The blank paper, the empty canvas, the powerful spotlight can be very daunting. That is why leaders ask for help. We cannot do it by ourselves and even if we could, it is easier, faster and will be better when we enlist the help of others. Sharing a story and especially writing a book should be one of those challenges that we seek out – if we are a leader. That is the way I felt in 2005 when it was suggested that I write a book. I didn’t know how to write one so I learned by doing. I sought help and with that help, gained the knowledge, skills and attitude to write many more. What is possible when you ask for help? There are people like me who can help you find the power in your story and then write it in a way that is far easier and faster than you ever thought possible. You don’t have to travel to distant places or stare at a blank sheet of paper. You don’t have to become a writer but just have a series of conversations. You can even learn the process yourself. There is help available. Great leaders know how to initiate, collaborate and delegate. That is where the significant power is generated. Ask for help.
Sixth, many wish they had started much earlier. As I have spoken to groups and discussed the potential of writing their legacy stories, many wish they had done it ten years earlier. “if only . . .” They wished they could have asked questions of those who had passed. They look back and wonder what could have been. Yet, great leaders appreciate the power of starting with what we have today and telling the story from there. Great leaders know there is power by beginning now. Start telling your story today.
Seventh, many procrastinate, thinking they need more time. They don’t think the story is finished or that they have enough to say. They think there will be a better time later. What a mistake. We don’t know what tomorrow brings and too often the window of opportunity slams shut on our fingers. What we thought was going to happen never does. We stand there wondering what could have been, nursing our throbbing fingers and heart full of regret. Meanwhile, time is moving on. I know I couldn’t have written this same book one year later because my mother was declining. She just wouldn’t have been sharp enough to recall the stories. I am so very glad I did not wait. Powerful leaders don’t procrastinate to tell their story. Begin right now.
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I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I help leaders find the power in their stories and share it in a book. I have written 11 of my own and am currently working on four more. Do you have a powerful story to share? Do you have a book you want to write? Contact me today to begin making your desire a reality and leveraging your leadership power. Loren@MurfieldCoaching.com.
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