Before the first word of any story is written or spoken, there needs to be a main character. A protagonist. A hero.
One of the most important stories you need to be able to tell is your own. This takes tremendous self-awareness.
In order to tell effective stories about yourself and your experiences, you need to have an understanding of who you are, and the important aspects of your individuality that will shape your stories and impact your audiences. You should be able to relate what your purpose is, what you want to do. How can you best use your skills and abilities?
To help you better understand who you are and what stories you have to tell, ask yourself these questions:
Why were you put on this earth, professionally speaking?
This is a hard one for a lot of people. It was for me, anyway. Because it can result in you coming to the realization that you’re not doing what you’re meant to be doing.
So you need to be brutally honest with yourself. What do you do better than anyone else? What calls to you? What is the skill that, when there is a need for it, everyone looks at you?
What are the core values that guide your life?
This looks at more than just what you do, but who you are.
Everyone has a core set of values that are important to them. Integrity, honesty, work ethic, friendship, love of family. There are lots to choose from. What are the five or six that you try your best to live up to?
What are some adjectives you would use to describe yourself?
This may sound like it’s the same as the previous one, but it’s not. In this case, these are words that describe how you act and what you do.
Are you hard-working. Fun-loving. Laid-back. Results-oriented. Driven. Thoughtful. Impetuous. List as many as you can.
How do you want to be perceived by your peers and colleagues?
If you were to overhear some colleagues talking about you (forgetting your faults, because we all have them), what would you want them to say?
What do you want your reputation to be?
How does that differ from how you are currently perceived?
Put yourself back in that eavesdropping scenario above. Now ask yourself what your colleagues would really say (again, leaving out your faults). How do you think your colleagues really perceive you?
I realize this isn’t a fair question, and it may not be possible for most people to answer it. But the point is to be honest with yourself about who you are, and what gaps may exist between how you want to be perceived and how you really are.
And that can be your guide in your storytelling.
What do you do with the answers to the questions above?
Write them down. Keep them in a journal or in a safe place on your computer. Password protect it. This is for your eyes only.
Self-awareness is a never-ending journey. As an individual, you will change over time. The answers to these questions should reflect that change.
Telling your own story doesn’t come easily to a lot of people. Some people are too humble, but more often, it’s a matter of not being able to see it. We wake up with ourselves every day, and it’s hard to see what’s interesting about what we do and who we are.
But the more self-aware you can be, the more you’ll know about the main character of your stories.