02 Jul Our deepest fear: using story to lead and empower

What does she mean, our deepest fear, I hear you ask. I’m referring to Marianne Williamson’s poem read out at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration which reminds us that, if we have a story to tell which will help others, we should share it.

If you are British, like me, you may be fighting against this notion. You’ll be worrying perhaps that others will see you as boastful or forceful, or both. You may have been brought up to believe that nothing should be about you and that you should always be thinking about others. You may overlook that while there will be many who don’t want to hear what you have to say, there are many for whom the timing is right. There are many who will find that what you have to say is genuinely inspiring.

If you are relating your experiences in the spirit of what you have learned, they will see hope. They will see themselves in your situation and know that there is a way out. That’s why I decided to take the plunge and write my story

Thriving on Setbacks: 5 Strategies for Resilience

published today. For that opportunity I am grateful to Katie Mehnert.

While I am hoping of course that my story will cause readers to reflect on the parallels in their lives, I also recognize how I too have been inspired by role models in my own life. These include my mother who continued working through all her child-bearing years in order to support my father while he trained to be a teacher, and who suffered uncomplainingly through many months of a horrible illness before she died. Certainly in her latter years she always had a smile for everyone and could truly see the silver lining in the ever frequent clouds that were crossing her horizon.

Why story matters

There are many others whose examples have encouraged me to keep going and to find and use my hidden strengths. Reflecting back, the common denominator has been a story which resonates with me. From research into mirror neurons we know that the parts of our brains that light up when we do something also light up when we read about, or recall someone else performing the same action (a bit like the wincing feeling when you read about nails scratching a chalkboard). We literally see ourselves in someone else’s story. The information we are processing moves from fact into something which matters to us personally.

Story and influence

How could you embrace the power of story in your own life?

If you are in any position which requires you to influence others, how could story serve to inspire people to really engage with your cause?

What stories are you living which limit your potential as a leader?

For more information on how you could make the power of story work better for you in your leadership click here.

Copyright © Move Ahead Global 2014

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