When you tell your story in advance you can lead towards it and live into it. It’s like you are first the author, then the central character of the best narrative you can think of. Joseph Campbell, the father of the modern story said, “;A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than themselves.” The privilege of dreaming about, designing, and moving towards a story bigger than us resonates deeply in the heart of all the leaders I know.
As I walked around the local park in a client meeting, Andrea and I were dreaming and strategising her first 100 days in the CFO role she had just accepted. As we walked and talked, it wasn’t her ability that was in question, it was how it was going to be designed and expressed in the most empowering way. What we were searching for was a way to language her leadership so that it resonated with her personal style and capabilities as well as captured a deeper level of meaning that would serve as a ‘true north’ for the challenges and the possibilities that were ahead of her. “What do you want your leadership to be known for?” I asked as we made our way through the park. It was as if Andrea had the blank page in front of her, the pen in her hand, and the opportunity to create what she really wanted her leadership to be. Andrea had her story to write.
Storytelling is an opportunity to consider your ideal future, your best contribution, and what success looks like. It’s the place where dreams come true, potential is realised and the benefits of success are enjoyed. Storytelling is the moment in leadership development where you suspend reality, time, and obstacles in favour of opportunities, vision, and possibility. It’s counter-intuitive and really important all at the same time.
You can watch the Story Telling video here.
Writing your leadership story helps you in the following ways:
- It helps define what you stand for from a values perspective.
- It gives you the opportunity to consider the most positive ‘what if’ scenarios for your leadership.
- It gives you the chance to dream and dream again.
- It allows you to consider and create the future before you get there.
- It connects ideas with emotion so you can ‘feel’ what the future could be, rather than just knowing it cognitively.
Storytelling also allows you to introduce the protagonist. It lets you consider the possible dangers, obstacles and perils. Storytelling makes the challenge an adventure and facing them moments of truth, places to grow. Challenges are no longer something to be feared but mountains to conquer. Any leaders story has the ideal, the struggle and the emergence of a new better person. It’s the beauty of both the journey and the outcome.
To start your own leadership story the following five questions will help you launch with strength:
- What do you want to be known for?
- What would you do if you couldn’t fail?
- What does success look like?
- What does possibility invite you to consider?
- What does responsibility require of you?
The good news is Andrea and I are right now designing her first 100 Days at her new job. She was promoted to a larger organisation with a bigger portfolio and now gets to write an even bigger story with an even better ending for herself, her people and the organisation. Her dream is becoming a reality. Joseph Campbell also said, “Be the hero of your own story.” Not just for you but for all the others that will benefit from you realising your potential. Get writing.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.