6th, October , 2016
How has your life story shaped the person you are today?
In his book Discover Your True North, Bill George writes, “Your life story is your foundation. It shapes how you, as a human being see the world. And in leadership, the most human of all endeavours, it can propel you forward or hold you back.”
I believe our life stories do not determine who we are or define who we become. Our life stories inspire us to make CHOICES. Everyone experiences pressures and challenges in life, some more severe than others and all of us have to deal with fears, doubt, uncertainty and loss. As I stated in my previous blog about attitude, the way you frame an experience, be it positive or negative, directly determines how you respond. As we all know, you can’t always choose what happens to you but you can always choose how you respond.
The way you deal with your greatest setbacks and challenges shapes your character far more than the adversities themselves.
Several articles have appeared recently recounting facets of my life story. The sharing of stories provides people with greater understanding, a deeper connection and the permission to open up and share their stories too. Brenè Brown articulates it beautifully in her book Rising Strong when she says, “When we deny our stories they define us. When we own our stories we get to write the ending.”
When I reflect on my professional surfing career and the fierce competitor I once was, I can barely relate to that part of my life. I honestly believed that was who I had to be to achieve my goals. I was brash, extremely determined, quoted as having the compassion of a tiger shark; I believed I had to passionately dislike my competition in order to beat them, providing them with plenty of reasons to dislike me too.
Today I have matured into a woman who is more self aware, compassionate and proud of the life I have lived. Admittedly, I have made my fair share of mistakes and I have chosen to learn from them, let them go and move on. I am not defined by my mistakes, nor am I defined by my success – I am only defined by the person I choose to be. This requires the discipline to own my story and vulnerability and courage to share it with people I trust. I now share these lessons and teach methods on how to acquire self-awareness in my workshops and keynote presentations.
Your most deeply held beliefs, your values and the principles you live your life by ultimately determine the life you live.
Having grown up in the housing projects of Brooklyn, Howard Schultz dreamed of building “a company that his father would be proud to work at” after seeing his father broken from the 30 terrible blue-collar jobs he had over his life. His family were poor, uneducated and lived a life of suffering and struggle. He credits his life story with giving him the motivation to create Starbucks, one of the great business successes of the last 25 years. Schultz is proud of his rise from humble beginnings and to understand the meaning of his story took courage to confront fears and ghosts from his past.
Gaining self-awareness begins with understanding your life story. It is at the centre of your inner compass and an essential component of knowing yourself, discerning your passions and discovering your purpose.
So you see, it’s our own stories and most importantly sharing them that connects us to each other, allowing us to discover our inner power and strength.
When you know yourself, you are empowered. When you accept yourself, you are invincible.