Finding the Threads of Your Story and Discovering Your Why
Finding the threads of your story doesn’t have to be hard - although speaking from experience, it can be a challenge in the beginning. Listen to this week's episode
Once you find your story threads and understand your why, it becomes the power source you will draw on in creating content, making business decisions and living out your purpose through your brand.
Here are some simple steps I use to help people surface the threads in their story.
Start at the Beginning
Think back to when you were 10 years old - what did you dream of doing?
If you’re having a hard time remembering, it’s helpful to take a few deep breaths and close your eyes. Think of something you loved to do when you were around that age.
• What about it did you love?
• How have your life experiences mirrored that desire?
• Name your most intensely painful moments and your most ecstatically joyful moments - what did you learn?
• How did those moments shape who you are today?
For me, it was riding horses and the thrill, freedom and mastery (I hated the feeling of hitting the ground when I got thrown off ;) of galloping through the hills behind our house. Interestingly, the career path I chose gave me a lot of freedom, required mastery, provided lots of thrills and let me be outdoors.
One of my most painful moments was after my parents split up. I had to sell my horse and learn to deal with their conflict. I was devastated.
In hindsight, the lesson I took away was the constant nature of change in life and learning to adapt. Working in television and the communication field requires being able to constantly adapt to changing situations and handle conflict.
What is the common thread in your work experience? For example, you may see yourself as a marketer or business development strategist - but when you stand back and look at all of your work roles you see the thread of “teacher” or mentor in all of them.
This thread is at the root of your story and who you are.
Your Career Timeline vs. Your Passion Journey
How often are you asked at family gatherings or network events, “so, what’s your story?” (BTW - that is one of the worst questions you can ask for networking - for tips on great networking questions, check out my friend Mike Kim’s blog here).
We have a tendency to respond to this question by listing what we do as our profession or jobs we’ve held versus what we are passionate about.
One of the easiest ways to figure out what you feel passionate about (your why) is to answer two questions:
• What makes you mad?
• What makes you sad?
I recently had the honor of working with a rising entrepreneur who felt her passion was around building a business and being her own boss. And part of that is her passion, however, the deep, emotional connection to her why was at the root of her story.
After asking her “what makes you mad?” she recounted losing a business due to the same market conditions she is trying to help others navigate. What a powerful aha moment!
Once you tap into that emotion, keep writing until you know that’s what makes you get up in the morning.
You may not use all of it in your story, but I encourage you to keep it in a resource file for the future reference.
Note: Please be forewarned that at this point you may experience a lump in your throat or tears in your eyes and that's a good thing - you are on to something!
Here are some other questions to think about if you get stuck:
• How did you find work in your area of passion? What was your path?
• Even if your job does not provide that outlet today, what are you doing today to feed your passion?
Weaving the Threads Together
Telling your story is about pulling the pieces together. The basic hero’s journey is one simple way to do this.