What’s Your Story?
Who are you? Seriously — beyond your name and title, outside of your profession, beneath your exterior image, who are you? And what is your story?
If there is one thing that is unique to you, that no one can steal or copy, it is your story. Your story is the sum total of who you are as a person, the family you were born into, the people you associate with, what inspires you, what fascinates you, your unique skills, your strongest desires and your deepest fears.
Your story is also a manifestation of your experiences and how they shaped you.
Like Michelle Obama said in her book ‘Becoming’, “Even when it is not pretty or perfect. Even when its more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
Own your story. Never shy away from the context, the background and the circumstances that made you into who you are today. Turn it into a strength and leverage it. Like the greats do it.
Let me share two anecdotes to drive home the point.
I just finished reading the autobiography of one of the greatest champions of all time. The following famous lines would tell you who I am referring to:
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.”
Yes — It is Mohammed Ali — ranked as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time and the greatest sportsman of the 20th century.
In the spring of 1973, after he was stripped of his title, Mohammed Ali decided to go home to Louisville — his home town. He says — “I want to come home. To rest. To see family and friends. To remember who I am, where I came from and where I want to go”.
When he was down, he decided to draw strength from his story. As he reached town, someone asked him how long he was visiting. His response was — “Just long enough to get my bearings, then I’m going to get my title.” And get the title — he did. He regained the title of the World Heavyweight Champion in a spectacular win.
Here’s another case in point.
Did you hear of ‘The speech that made Obama President”?
To quote the Chicago Magazine — When Barack Obama launched into his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was still an obscure State Senator from Illinois. By the time he finished 17 minutes later, he had captured the nation’s attention and opened the way for a run at the presidency.
In this famous speech, Obama starts with a biographical sketch and talks about his story as part of the larger American story. A few minutes into the talk and the audience is mesmerized. Do watch the video.
These are two famous personalities who took pride in their stories and drew strength from them.
So, I ask again. What is your story? If you haven’t figured it out as yet, do spend time to think about this. Your story will give you the power, courage and inspiration you need to go chase your dreams. Own your story.