“The most important story you will tell about yourself is the story you will tell yourself.” ~ Jim Loehr, The Power of History, Free Press, 2007
Stories that don’t work happen to everyone. Each of us operates with a variety of organizing principles or “stories” that revolve around our brain. They often push us to work harder and faster, even though we are not getting any closer to achieving the life we want.
Even the most successful people, with brilliant career histories, have old stories on their minds. One of the most commonly shared (and seriously flawed) beliefs is that simply spending time on something will generate positive results. If you accept this premise, you are probably in a rush most of the time.
High quality focused energy is necessary to achieve results. As performance psychologist Jim Loehr writes in The Power of Story (Free Press, 2007), “… the key to nearly all of our problems, more fundamental even than mismanagement of energy, is faulty storytelling, because it is the narration the one that marks the way we gather and we spend our energy “.
In fact, energy is the most precious resource we possess: the heart of the solutions to our most urgent problems and needs. The stories we tell ourselves, however, waste valuable energy, leaving us too tired or stressed to perform at optimal levels.
Find a flawed story
To generate the energy you need to fulfill your greatest desires and goals, you must identify your faulty stories, the wrong old chestnuts that are being told over and over again. We rarely examine them or question their usefulness. We just go on with our work days and our lives, telling each other these family stories to convince ourselves that we are okay.
Answer the following questions to determine if your stories are working for you:
- Are you feeling full of energy?
- Are you managing your time well?
- Do you do things
- Are you living the life you dreamed of?
If you have answered “no” to any of these questions, then your stories are not working for you. Now is the time to develop a story that compensates you and enhances your energy.
Stories create our reality
Human beings are programmed to create and tell stories. Our brain continually searches for explanations for the events around us. Whatever we find, be it random or planned, forces our minds to impose a chronology and apply the logic of cause and effect.
We use stories to find meaning in the midst of chaos. This is how we organize and give context to our experiences. Facts don’t make sense until we create a story around them. As business consultant Annette Simmons writes in The history factor (Basic Books, 2006), “People don’t need new facts, they need a new story.” In most cases, these stories matter more than what actually happens.
We constantly tell our stories, even when we don’t realize it. They reflect problems with our work, family, happiness in general, and personal strengths and weaknesses. Every story has a theme, hero, villain, and conflict, and the way we communicate it involves both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Because only we make our stories, we can also make them as inspiring as possible, suggests leadership coach Rosamund Stone Zander and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander, authors of The art of possibility (Harvard Business School Press, 2000).
Consequences of negative stories
Some of our inner stories are so tragically inaccurate that they lead to stress and burnout:
- “It is a competitive and ruthless world.”
- “If I don’t look for number one, no one else will.”
- “I would love to spend time with my family, but I have to work.”
- “If I’m not the first person at work and the last to leave, I’ll be seen as lazy.”
- “I would exercise and eat better if I weren’t so busy.”
5 types of stories
We tell stories related to five basic themes:
While there are innumerable variations, these themes form the basis of everyday complaining or bragging, two facets of storytelling.
Reality check to see if your stories justify your actions or inspire new behaviors. How do you feel about your results? Are you happy with the way he behaves? Answering these questions allows you to discover how your internal stories influence your behavior.
3 steps to rewrite your story
- Make a list of your current stories. Identify the areas where your stories are clearly hurting you.
- Express a story that doesn’t work for you as clearly as possible. Are you, for example, rationalizing behavior or scapegoating a colleague? Are you bitter or boastful? Your story should be as authentic as possible.
- To rewrite your history, first identify your faulty elements. Ask yourself these three questions:
to. Does the story reflect the truth?
B. Will it get me where I want to go in life (while allowing me to stay true to my core values)?
vs. Does it stimulate me to act?
Loehr says that a constructive story contains three key components:
- Hopeful action
If your story lacks one or more of these elements, it is still flawed and unworkable. Only a purposeful, truthful, and hopeful story will inspire you to unleash your intrinsic energy and achieve what you want out of life.