Stories are a natural way to explain who you are and what you need; and your story helps others connect with you and provide support. In exchange, other people’s stories help you understand what they need and decide if you can help them out. So stories are a great source of connections between people.
As such, you should take great care in sharing your stories and spend time reflecting about them. If you go around saying everything is fine, you are not likely to get a lot of support from others because they’ll assume you don’t need anything. On the other hand, if you are always saying everything is all messed up and you are overwhelmed, it’s like “the boy who cried wolf,” and you will not get much help because people assume their efforts won’t really make a difference for you.
Before you lump this post into the “it’s all about me” category of pop culture, consider this: it’s pretty selfish to assume that others will know your story without you offering it. We all know hundreds of people, and keeping track of all of their stories is a complex task. You can make it easier on others by having your own story worked out and sharing it appropriately. And you have to listen and respond to others or you will be seen as a taker, not a partner.
Knowing and sharing your story is not the same as bragging about yourself, this is more about being interesting. I love this blog post by russell davies, where he suggests, to be interesting, be interested.
To get your story together, start by answering a few simple questions:
- What are you doing now and how is it going for you?
- What have you done in the past, and how did it help form you?
- What lessons have you learned along the way?
- What do you want to be doing next? And next after that?
- What are your hopes for your life and the world around you?
Think of your story as a nautilus shell with the whole shell being a high level version of you and each compartment being a gradually more specific situational version of you.
Even if you are not sure how to answer one or more of these questions, that tells a lot about who you are and what kind of support you need from others.
Share the answers to these questions in small bits and weave them through your conversations with others… few people really want to hear a long monologue.
Pay attention to how your story comes across to others. Are you always overwhelmed, or frustrated, or stressed out? Over time, people will perceive your self-talk as your personal brand. Be careful that it represents the real you.
An authentic story makes it easier for others to work with and around you, and produces a lot of serendipitous goodness that helps you along your way.