Newsletter: Volume I. No. 20
What's Your Story?
Stories that don't work happen to everybody. Each of us operates with a variety of organizing principles, or "stories," that swirl around our brains. They often prompt us to work harder and faster, even though we're not getting any closer to achieving the life we want.
Even the most successful people, with brilliant professional histories, carry old stories in their minds. One of the most commonly shared (and seriously flawed) beliefs is that simply spending time on something will generate positive results. If you buy into this premise, then you're probably rushed much of the time.
High-quality, focused energy is necessary to achieving results. As performance psychologist Jim Loehr writes in The Power of Story (Free Press, 2007), "...the key to almost all of our problems, more fundamental even than poor energy management, is faulty storytelling, because it's storytelling that drives the way we gather and spend our energy."
Indeed, energy is the most precious resource we possess - the heart of the solutions to our most pressing problems and needs. The stories we tell ourselves, however, cause us to lose valuable energy, leaving us too tired or stressed to perform at optimum levels.
Find a Faulty Story
To generate the energy you need to fulfill your greatest desires and goals, you must identify your faulty stories - the erroneous old chestnuts that you tell yourself over and over again. We rarely examine them or question their usefulness. We simply go about our workdays and lives, telling ourselves these familiar tales to convince ourselves that we're OK.
Answer the following questions to determine whether your stories are working to your advantage:
If you have answered "no" to any of these questions, then your stories aren't working for you. Now's the time to develop a story that compels you and improves your energy.
Stories Create Our Reality
Humans are wired to create and tell stories. Our brains continuously look for explanations to the events around us. Whatever we encounter, whether random or planned, forces our minds to impose a chronology and apply cause-and-effect logic.
"We automatically, and often unconsciously, look for an explanation of why things happen to us, and 'stuff just happens' is no explanation," according to psychologist Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at Oxford University's Centre for Anthropology & Mind.
We use stories to find meaning amid chaos. This is how we organize and give context to our experiences. Facts are meaningless until we create a story around them. As business consultant Annette Simmons writes in The Story Factor (Basic Books, 2006), "People don't need new facts - they need a new story." In most cases, these stories matter more than what actually happens.
We tell our stories constantly, even when we're unaware of doing so. They reflect issues with our work, family, overall happiness, and personal strengths and weaknesses. Each story has a theme, hero, villain and conflict, and the way we communicate it involves both verbal and nonverbal communication.
Because we alone craft our stories, we may as well make them as inspiring as possible, suggest leadership coach Rosamund Stone Zander and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor Benjamin Zander, authors of The Art of Possibility (Harvard Business School Press, 2000).
Consequences of Negative Stories
Some of our internal stories are so tragically inaccurate that they lead to stress and burnout:
5 Kinds of Stories
We tell stories related to five basic subjects:
While there are myriad variations, these themes form the basis for everyday complaining or bragging - two facets of storytelling.
Do a reality check to see if your stories excuse your actions or inspire new behaviors. How do you feel about your results? Are you happy with the way you conduct yourself? Answering these questions allows you to uncover how your internal stories influence your behavior.
3 Steps to Rewrite Your Story
Loehr says a constructive story contains three key components:
If your story lacks one or more of these elements, it remains flawed and unworkable. Only a purposeful, truthful and hope-driven story will inspire you to unleash your intrinsic energy and achieve what you want from life.
Are you and your organization being shortchanged?
If you're less successful and profitable than you could and should be. the answer is YES!
In today's highly competitive business environment. excellence is not just an option - it's mission critical. Good is no longer good enough. You know it. and we know it.
That's where Kashbox Coaching comes in. We're ready to help you and your organization become more focused. motivated. innovative. and successful than you ever dreamed possible!
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2010 Coach Notes