What Story are you living into?

One of the real privileges of my work is to hear people’s stories. And I notice how often those stories are based in the past. Yet it’s your future I’m interested to inspire you to create.

I have been asked by my own coaches to identify the key milestones in my life. And I’ve always told the same stories. My first day at school. The time I got into trouble with the teacher. The time I challenged my career officer to find me the course I wanted. The first time a leader asked me what I wanted in life. The day I got married. How I came to start my business. The decision to move to Canada. And so on…

And then I realised two things: what stories of my life might be missing when I am stuck in the same ones? And what if the stories I do repeat aren’t true to what really happened? In that moment new questions presented themselves to me: 

What if, I just change how I tell my stories? What if how I remember them isn’t true? What if those stories are exactly that – stories I’ve made up years later through the filter of memories? What if I could look at all those moments with new eyes and tell a different version of my story? 

So I’ve done just that. I’ve change the stories of my life and how I tell them. It immediately feels different. I’m, redefining my life. I experience a release and a sense of opening up to more of me. Isn’t it interesting that “author” and “authority” are virtually the same word. I have authority over my own life when I author my story differently. 

At the same time as I was redefining my story for myself, a headline on a blog caught my eye: “Do you really want your five year old running your life now?” it asked. 

Of course not, I said — and I imagine you might say so too as you read this. 

But isn’t that lying, I hear you say. I don’t think so. How would you know if the stories you’d been telling yourself are your definitive truth ? They are stories based on what you think you remember and how you’ve come to rationalise or justify those experiences. 

Now I’m not a psychologist and I’m sure there’s a lot more to this. And I don’t mean to diminish the hard-life experiences of people who are scarred by some trauma that does require appropriate therapy and support. 

I’m talking about how many of us turn normal life stories into something that defines us. And how we keep ourselves victim to those stories.

From another perspective,  I’m inspired by the many stories of people who break out of paths such as homelessness or bankruptcy yet don’t let that version of their story limit them from writing a new story of great business or financial success. They are many and they show us that you can re-write your story anytime if you really work at it. 

Listening to a client trapped in her past stories, I ask, What story would you rather live into? What if, from the moment you wake up tomorrow morning, you can live into that new story and become what you choose to create in your life? It’s a choice to do so. Like me, my client shifts her focus, her energy and her actions towards creating what she really wants her life to be. She writes a new story. Very soon she is out telling people a new, bold, confident version of the story she is living into. She’s bringing her new life alive as if it’s already who she is. 

As a leader, these are great questions for yourself and your team to explore: 

What is the story we’re telling ourselves and what if we changed it? 

What is the story we choose to live into and bring alive from this moment forward? 

I wonder what you’ll write…

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Aileen Gibb
My work has taken me around the globe and to conversations with people from many different nationalities, cultures and organisations. Wherever I've gone, the power of real conversation, founded on intentional listening and enlightened questioning, has been welcomed. It’s a core piece of our humanity to create the space for conversations that matter and to build connection and meaning with members of our family, our business and our communities.