The Best Story You’ll Ever Tell

by Alina on July 9, 2014

in Am I Good Enough?, Happiness, Impostor Syndrome, Need a Change, Power

Storytelling around the campfire“Tell me a story!” I asked. It was my favorite line when I was a child. (What was your favorite line as a child?) “What do you want the story to be about? Give me a topic,” my grandma used to reply.

“About anything”, which usually meant: “Tell me a story about your life. Tell me about your life when you were growing up. Tell me about meeting grandpa, or about my mom when she was little. Tell me about your friends. Tell me about your work. Tell me about your family during World War II.”

Through telling stories, we connect: we create trust, rapport, build a common vision, and “sniff each other out”.

A person’s request for a story is a request for connection.

And here’s the thing: your ability to tell a good story and to listen are the two skills that can make or break your career and your life. These two skills will affect your personal and professional growth more than any other skills that you have. (If you doubt this, think of your most recent leadership meeting, or think as far back as your summer camp days: everyone wants to be aligned with the person who can tell an engaging, convincing story that creates a great vision, right?)

Story-telling doesn’t just affect interpersonal relationships; the stories that you tell yourself about your life define the perceived quality of your life experiences, and define the way you view yourself.

So, how do we tell engaging stories that build trust, put others at ease, create a vision, and make everyone listen up?  Many marketing & coaching companies build their business around helping individuals and corporations tell their stories. Today, I’ll a share one winning story-telling strategy that will always work, provided that you tell the story honestly and genuinely. (Disclaimer: I learned it from my 3-year old, and still, it works reliably.)

My youngest son asked me recently to tell him a story. “What do you want the story to be about?” I replied. “Tell me a story about how good I am, like how I am your sweetheart, I’m your darling… You know.” That was a bit unexpected, but I started:

“You are my sweetheart.
You are my darling.
You are my love.
You give the best hugs and kisses.
You wash your hands so well every time!
You eat so well all the new things that we offer you at dinner.
You help me make the best coffee.
You listen so well to all the books that I read to you.
You ask such great questions!
You share with your brothers all the time.
You let your friend ride your bike.
You always say thank you.
You are such a good boy…”

As I was telling this story, our 3-year old completely relaxed. He fell asleep smiling, with his arm wrapped around my neck.

It occurred to me that everyone should have an opportunity to fall asleep with a story about how good they are. I tried it on the rest of my family, and it worked like a charm: they all smiled, and relaxed into my beautiful, genuine vision of them. Everyone needs and wants to be seen through a lens of goodness.

So, what is the best story you’ll ever tell? Tell a story about how good someone is. Remember, though, that it only works if you are truthful and genuine.

Tell stories about the greatest teachers, luckiest fishermen, kindest strangers, about the small good things that you notice other people do. Notice the good around you, and tell stories about it. Moreover, if no one tells you a story about how good you are, please tell yourself every day: “I love you. You are good. You did the best you could today.”

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