I have dedicated my work to empowering others to use their voices and share their stories.
I tell my clients and students that every time they’re given a podium, they’re given an opportunity. What story needs to be told? What messages do people need to hear?
So, when Voyage Dallas reached out with a platform to tell my story, you bet I was going to jump on it. And since telling stories is what I do, it should have been easy, right?
“Can you briefly walk us through your story?” they asked, and I all but had an identity crisis. “It all began when I was born,” I thought about starting, but quickly changed course.
It’s one thing to help other people tell their stories, but telling my own is completely different. I struggled through it, probably for the same reasons my clients and students struggle to fit their own stories into the tight boundaries of a speech, About Me page, or article.
After going through the process, I asked started reflecting on a question: How can I make the process of writing our own stories less painful and more efficient?
I came up with three things I want to pass on:
1. Start here: “What do I want the reader to walk away with?”
It seems like it would make the most sense to start at the beginning, but it’s actually more helpful to start at the end. Consider the point, the takeaway, the one memorable lesson you’d like the reader to reach by the end of your story, and that’s what you write toward. It gives you a goal and a place to focus; any details that don’t lead the reader to that finish line can be left for another story.
2. Get out of the details and find the patterns.
One of the reasons why it’s so much easier for me to write about other people’s lives and businesses is because I have the luxury of not knowing every single detail. I am an outsider looking through the window. I can admire the decor, and hear the music, and watch the clients walk through the door enough to understand the aesthetic, the vibe, and the people who are served. I can describe my view from the window with clear and vivid detail because I’m not getting caught up on how things were supposed to look, how they used to look, or how they look compared to something else. I just describe the patterns I see.
When we write our own stories, we get bogged down and sidetracked by the thousands of experiences that led us to where we are in our lives. What we need to do instead is look for the patterns. Take a step back. What would someone else see if they looked through the window? What’s the aesthetic? What’s the vibe? How and who do you serve?
3. Get comfortable talking about your own accomplishments.
Ugh. Can’t I just thank all the people who have inspired me? No, you can’t. But you can think about all of those people because I’m guessing they all have something in common:
In order to be inspiring, they had to tell their stories. They unapologetically shared their accomplishments and the challenges they met on their way to them. We couldn’t be inspired by them if they’d never realized that their stories and accomplishments were worth talking about.
In my interview with Voyage Dallas, I shared a quote from Michelle Obama, someone who inspires me:
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
If you’re having trouble telling your own story for your bio, about page, or other professional profile, check out my step-by-step guide. Check out the resources page for the How to Write a Compelling Bio worksheet.