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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Recent article: How World Cup Can Improve Work Engagement
Previous article: “Expectations: to Have or Not to Have.”

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It’s not an easy task. If you could make a connection between the person in your company who contracts innovative workshop designers/presenters, and me, we both would be thankful. My e-mail address is Alina@MindTerrainCoaching.com .

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Let me say this upfront: if you’re trying to get someone you love to watch any sports game with you, or at the very least, to leave you in peace as you’re watching the game, this article will be a powerful weapon in your arsenal. 

Since the start of the World Cup, all the boys in our house have been deeply engaged in watching soccer. All four of them, ages 3 to 30-something, seemed to have lost themselves in each match, screaming: “YES!” “Go, go, GOOOO! Oh, NOOOOOO!!!!”  “CHEATING! That guy was cheating!” “Mom, COME QUICK!!! You HAVE to see this replay!”

Not being a sports fan, I still love seeing those replays, because every goal is executed so beautifully that it’s a masterpiece. I don’t know the current ranking of the teams in World Cup. So, when I watch World Cup, I pick a favorite team at the beginning of each match, and root for “my” team.

Why?

Because I’ve learned that allowing yourself to be engaged in watching a game can change your ability to feel deeply engaged in other aspects of your life, even if you don’t start out as a fan of the game.

“The only time I feel truly happy is when I’m a watching a game. I scream, I jump, I curse, and I feel like myself.”- a client once told me. He has a successful career, a beautiful family, and still, the time when he feels most like himself is when he’s watching a game.

Does it sound odd or unbelievable? In fact, this account is pretty common. I’m sure you’ve encountered people expressing satisfaction that they experience from being deeply engaged in sports or technology:

“When I see a new gadget, my almost hands start shaking: I have a physical urge to immediately get that gadget in my hands. I want to click on everything, go through all the features instantaneously. I’m completely absorbed by exploring the new device.”

“When I see a car’s new design, when I think of the incredible speed at which the car can go, I feel in my gut that this is a thing of beauty. It is perfection. This perfection is like a drug.”

“Watching an apocalypse unfold on screen gives me an adrenalin rush. With controls in my hands, I feel like I’m really on a mission to save the world, even though I know it’s just a game. It feels real.”

I take this moment of passion, engagement, and connection, and help clients create the adrenalin rush of a “guy on a mission” in their daily jobs, and in all other aspects of their lives.

What’s the secret? How can this be done?

What makes people feel so alive during a soccer match, and so dead inside during a business meeting?

Here are some ideas that you can try on your own:

1. Use World Cup to learn to Allow yourself to care. Then, actually care.

Can you remember the last time you allowed yourself to be moved by something so deeply that you actually cried?  Perhaps, what triggered it was an unexpected, much needed act of kindness that you witnessed or experienced. Possibly, a musical piece performed to perfection, or a powerful film. What about a point that was scored on the last second, changing the outcome of the final game? (If you can’t remember, please read this article: “50 Signs You Need a Change”).

Understandably, you might not allow yourself to be moved to tears, because it leads to vulnerability. If you care that much, you’re vulnerable, and being vulnerable feels unsafe and uncomfortable.

Well, then, there is always an option of not taking things to heart.

Not looking. Not caring.

Not doing anything that really matters because it feels too vulnerable.

What will you miss?

Being vulnerable allows you to experience connection: with your work, with your loved ones, with the world around you. Being vulnerable is your portal to experiencing intimacy.

You choose: do you want to go through life feeling unmoved or feeling connected?

2. Use World Cup to teach yourself to walk away if you can’t allow yourself to care, or if you can’t bring yourself to care.

If you realize that you need a change, and you just can’t continue acting as if you care, when you really don’t, here are some ideas for what to do when you need a change.

3. Use World Cup to see how players (and you) can create such a build-up of energy that deeply moves everyone who comes in contact with it.

Watch the players’ moves, polished to perfection, putting everything that they have into each pass. Similarly, do something that really matters to you, doing it well and honestly, doing it so beautifully that even someone who knows nothing about your field would be awed. Try this:

- Start a soulful conversation, and put your heart into it.
- Streamline a process, helping people save time and attention.
- Mend without a trace – a shoe, a fence, a heart.
- Be the one carrying tissues, always.
- Invent something. Anything.
- Share a really good story.
- Cook something delicious, and watch someone eat it.
- Sing a song – to a baby, to your lover, to a friend. Pick a really beautiful song.
- Answer questions honestly. You’d be surprised how refreshing and moving it could be.
- Be the one unaffected among the chaos, so that you can help those who are suffering. Allow yourself to be vulnerable after the whole thing is over.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable sometimes when you are in a position of power.

4. Use World Cup to practice deep engagement.

If you’re a soccer fan, I’m sure you’re sitting at the edge of your seat at every World Cup match that you get to watch. Notice what it feels like to deeply care about the team’s performance. Notice how you feel about your favorite team at the end of the game: are you still a fan if the team loses? Are you over the moon if the team wins? Notice what deep engagement feels like, so that we can start having a conversation about recreating that feeling in other areas of your life.

If you’re not currently a soccer fan, set aside the time to watch one match, just one. Pick your favorite team – either one of the teams. You can go by their country, by the color of the uniform, or by your friend’s recommendation. Observe the mastery of the players, and allow yourself to cheer for “your” team. Pretend that their success depends on the quality of your cheering. Allow yourself to practice deep engagement, and notice what it feels like.

Clients often tell me that something is missing for them, but they can’t exactly pinpoint what it is. Very often, what’s missing is deep engagement, but it’s hard to put your figure on it unless you know exactly what deep engagement feels like (the context of it doesn’t matter). So, World Cup is a great opportunity to practice feeling deep engagement and learn what it feels like.

5. Use World Cup to practice dealing with situations where you have no control of the outcome, learning to manage your wait time and expectations.

You can scream at the TV screen all you want – you can’t control the outcome of the matches, much like you can’t control the weather. Things that are completely outside of your control happen all the time, and sometimes, all you can do is learn how to manage your situation while waiting for news.

You can’t bulletproof your life, but you can learn to live well even with uncertainty.

You can’t make your team win, but you can figure out how to manage your expectations, allowing yourself to dream up the best outcome and not get broken-hearted if your outcome doesn’t materialize.

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Deep engagement is the key to doing fulfilling work and having fulfilling life. The good thing is that it is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Let me know if you want us to work on it together. And I’d love to hear your success stories about getting your friends & family deeply engaged in the World Cup!

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Are you in NYC/NJ area on Wed. 6/25? If you want to learn to use your gut feeling for improving your life consistently and reliably, please come to my workshop!

INTENT & ALIGNMENT WORKSHOP: Using Intuition to Help Things Happen in Your Life
Has it ever happened to you that you wanted something So much, but just couldn’t reach it, no matter how hard you worked on it? What about the opposite, when something that you’ve been dreaming about just fell into your hands, without you making the slightest effort? This workshop is designed to help analytical people (left-brainers) to:

- Understand how to use your energy to set clear intentions
- Align your intentions, actions, and energy for materializing your wish
- Learn how to re-wire your brain to help you create what you want rather than mull over what you don’t want
By the end of the class, participants will be able to develop a clear intent for something that they deeply want to happen in their lives. Participants will also acquire useful tools for creating alignment for their wishes, using both intuition and logic. BONUS: One personal intuitive question for each workshop participant will be answered, as a demo of intuition in action.

WHEN: Wed., June 25, 2014, 9-10:30 p.m..
WHERE: Fair Lawn, NJ
PARTICIPATION FEE: $25
ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED, as spaces are limited. Please REGISTER HERE by Fri. 6/20.

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I recently did an interview for Kirsten Marion of “Notes from a Broad” on helping analytical people understand intuition. We talked about things like reasons why people are forgiving of meteorologists making wrong predictions, but not psychics; where in the brain (or really, physically, in the gut?) does intuition “reside”, and much more. ENJOY and SHARE, please.

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Does this resonate with you? Please subscribe to my blog .  To stay connected, and get a FREE Practical Guide to Decision-Making Without Regrets, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I will never share your e-mail address or send you junk.

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Expectations: to Have or Not to Have

May 23, 2014 Career Change

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “The key to happiness is low expectations”. It’s common wisdom, but is it really true? It seems to ring true: when you don’t expect much, and then get something good, your expectations are exceeded, which, in turn, should theoretically make you happy. (Unless you immediately start questioning whether you have set the bar [...]

Read the full article →

The Real Power of Your Connections

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The power of your connections is greater than you think. Your connections define you, more than anything else in your life.  By now, you are either shaking your head with a clear “No way!”, or raising your eyebrows with an “Obviously!” Let’s get on the same page here. When I say “connections”, I’m not talking about [...]

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Worried While Waiting For News? Do These 5 Things.

April 1, 2014 Career Change

Can you recall what it feels like to sit in a waiting room? A waiting room could be literal or metaphorical: … in a doctor’s waiting room, before an appointment or test results. … by a reception desk in a company where you are about to interview for your next project. … on the edge [...]

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10 Snow Day Survival Strategies for Working Parents

February 12, 2014 Am I Good Enough?

A snow storm is coming.  Your company has allowed you to work from home. Your babysitter has already called to say that she probably won’t be able to come in tomorrow. The daycare is closed as a precaution. Your kids’ school hasn’t said anything about closing yet, but you know you will be getting that [...]

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10 Questions That Assess Your Happiness Today.

January 30, 2014 Happiness

“You should follow the advice that you give in your blog posts. Maybe, you’ll feel better”- my mom said. “I’m fine”- I snap back. “I don’t have time for this.” As soon as I hang up the phone, I realize: “Happy people aren’t snappy.” Think about it: have you ever met a truly, deeply happy [...]

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Procrastination: It’s a Great Strategy, Not a Weakness

December 19, 2013 Am I Good Enough?

If you’ve ever tried to stop procrastinating, and if procrastinating family members or colleagues drive you insane, this post will help you put procrastination in perspective. There are numerous articles written about ways to stop procrastinating (or “stop being lazy”), and substantial amount of money is being made on time management books and classes.  Contrary [...]

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When Things Change

November 27, 2013 Career Change

Around Thanksgiving, many bloggers talk about gratitude: being thankful for what you have. Gratitude is a great practice when you are able to make peace with things the way they are. I want to talk to you about change.  What do you do about all the things that should have happened, but didn’t? What do [...]

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Can you achieve a life goal with unlimited support, coaching, and intuition in 6 months?

September 27, 2013 Career Change

Do you ever wish for unlimited, personal, unconditional support? I’ve created a unique program that may work for you if you are focused on achieving a specific life goal, are willing to invest time and energy to make it happen, and want someone smart, experienced and magical by your side to help you. Program: unlimited [...]

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