There is an old saying - “That’s my story and I am sticking to it.” On the face of it, that sounds like a positive thing to do - it suggests that you are consistent in your message. Effective leaders clearly communicate their values, beliefs and opinions and act accordingly, on a consistent basis.
But, when may it not be the best thing - sticking to your story? When you have not taken the time to uncover, understand and test your stories - particularly those stories you believe about yourself. Please allow me to give you a personal example to illustrate what I mean. For a long time, I told myself the story, “I don’t handle stress well.” This story was causing me to not take some calculated risks due to my fear of the stress that would arise. Since I believed I didn’t handle stress well, I stayed in my comfort zone and missed out on some fabulous opportunities.
One day, I asked myself, “If I were my own coaching client, what powerful questions would I ask?” So, I asked myself, using my strengths-based approach to coaching, “Think about a stressful time that you handled really well. What made you successful in dealing with the stress?” I quickly recalled several incidences of me handling stress very well - so well that I came out of the situations better off then when they began. In fact, I learned that the most stressful situations led to the best outcomes. There was one incident that I did not deal with well - this single incident became the story, “I don’t handle stress well” despite the many examples to the contrary. Now, my story is, “I know how to come out of stressful situations stronger”. Even the one incident that was very negative taught me some very important life lessons I practice to this day.
So, here is your challenge - What stories do you believe about yourself? How do these stories limit you? How do they open up possibilities? How would you act differently if you didn’t believe the stories anymore? Pick one of your most deeply held stories and test it. How “true” is it? Happy storytelling!