I admit it, I am a junkie. I crave a hit everyday. I can’t seem to live without it. My newest addiction is TED.com. There are worse things to be addicted to I guess, but it still feels like being under its powerful grip is like I am doing something wrong. TED.com’s tag line is “riveting talks by remarkable people.” And if hearing stories and ideas from remarkable people is an addiction, then count me as a happily addicted person who seeks no cure.
As a Derailleur, I hear stories on a daily basis from my clients. Stories of failures, stories of “stuckness” and stories of survival. And of course, after working with a client for a few months, those stories of “not enough” turn to stories of success. So it gets me thinking, “what story do you tell yourself everyday?” What do you replay in your head over and over again? Is it one of victimhood? Is it one of survival? Or is it one of hope? What would your TED talk be about if you were asked to get on stage and share your story?
One of my favorite stories on TED.com is Amy Purdy’s. Amy tells a tale of how to draw on inspiration from life’s obstacles, having lost her legs from the knee down in a random act of life. Then there is Kelly McGonigal’s talk about how to make stress your friend, which is a mind-blowing-paradigm-shifting talk. And Apollo Robbins’ talk on “misdirection”(…how does he change his shirt mid talk without anyone seeing by the way?)…incredible. These are real people with real stories to share. And everyone has a story to share. Even you.
In business, storytelling is all the rage. Without a compelling story, we are told, our product, idea, or personal brand, is dead on arrival. In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Guber joins writers in evangelizing for the power of story in human affairs generally, and business in particular. Guber argues that humans simply aren’t moved to action by data dumps, dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”
We are creatures of story, and the process of changing one mind or the whole world must begin with “Once upon a time.” But what if the mind we need to change is our own? How do we listen to our own story to change our own mind about who we are and what is possible?
If you have read any of my blog entries, you will know that I am a firm believer in “we are what we think”…good and bad thoughts, we are what we think we are. So if your story is one of failure, loss and victimhood, guess what? Unless you find an ending that includes lessons learned, you will never make it on to a TED stage. Why? Because the formula for a good story in life and on TED is a lesson at the end. Whether it is children’s fairy tales, Shakespearian plays, or Harry Potter books, they all have incredible drama baked into the stories, but at the end, the lesson is the key to the story. So if the ending of your story is one that doesn’t include a lesson, you will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. And that is truly the definition of insanity. I am a firm believer in making all new mistakes and never any of the old ones. That is success for me. And by learning from each mistake, my story ending gets stronger and stronger because I can change my own mind of what is possible for myself.
I am going to keep today’s entry short, well because I need to get back to my addiction; scouring the TED website to find more mind bending stories…but I am also off to write my own personal story. Because I want to be ready the day that TED comes calling for me to speak live…I want to be sure that I have my story straight. And to make sure that my ending is one I can be proud of. I challenge you to do the same.