The Lessons are In Your Story

When I decided to study women’s leadership, I needed to interview women leaders. I needed to design a way to determine what gives a woman her unique leadership ability.

When I contacted women leaders and asked them about their leadership skills, many couldn’t find a way to identify exactly what it was that gave her the ability to be a leader.

So I decided to take a different approach. I decided to ask the women to tell me their stories.

Having the chance to talk about leadership stories was the key to finding the lessons from women leaders.

The lessons were in the story.

One story was about how a woman had decided to lead the fight for quality education in her community. With a group of other parents, she went to the City Hall to talk to the councilperson.  When the group got there, everyone turned to her to be the spokesperson. That was her moment of becoming a leader. 

Another professional woman related how her workplace needed some innovative ideas to market educational products to an adult population. She knew how to work with this target group because she had taught adult education for years in a past job. Her ideas resulted in a significant increase in sales for the company. This led to her being the leader of a new division in her workplace.

Sometimes it is not easy to describe certain behaviors, such as leadership. But when you hear the stories behind the situation or event, you can find the lessons. Finding lessons in stories can provide a way to mentor others. You can share the steps you took, the insights you’ve gained, and the wisdom that you now put into action.

Women are great storytellers. Have you thought about how you can use your storytelling ability to share leadership lessons with others? Think of how effective you could be when you learn how to find the lesson in the story.

The first step to take is to actually find your story.  Women have a particularly difficult time talking about the things they’ve done and achieved in life.  It seems like bragging to say you’ve done something good.  But learning to identify those good times do several things.

  1. It lets you build your confidence because you see what you’ve accomplished in life.
  1. You become bolder to know that you can share what you’ve accomplished to encourage someone else.
  1. It makes you want to try something else and you move to higher steps.

After speaking to one woman about their leadership story, she said that actually hearing the words come out of her mouth gave her a new perspective on her life.  She felt proud in a positive way.

But what about when telling a story brings up a painful remembrance?  It might seem that you want to hide situations that show the imperfections, pains of set backs that happened in life.  But this can be some of the more powerful lesson you could share.

The Emotions of Memoirs

A hard part about writing memoirs is when you have an emotional reaction to what comes up in the writing. You might want to run away from the memory.  But you can also use this type of writing to help heal old wounds or to find a deeper meaning in what has happened. If the writing is painful, you can stop wring on that topic.  Switch to something more enjoyable.

What about “secrets”

Writing is therapeutic. Some of what you write in an autobiography or memories will be keep confidential for you and you alone. You will even have to decide if what you write should in fact see that light of day. Will you want you favorite aunt to know that you hated her perfume that seemed to cling to you when you gave her a hug? Do you want to put in writing the actions you did when you were a teenagers that until now, no one else knows about but you? Do you really want to share dark family secrets, about yourself or others?  Writings can be seen. Be careful what you put on paper.

You Can’t Write it All

My biggest worry when writing memoirs was that I wouldn’t be able to remember things in order that they happened. But that’s the beauty of the memoir. You do’t have to remember things as they happened. You don’t even have to remember exact dates and time. You record incidences or situations that you remember.

As you write, new thoughts will come up. You can also remember things as you find memories of your life.

When I cleaned my old room in my parents home, I found old writings from diaries and scrapbooks. I found the yearbooks from my high school that prompted many memories. The picture of me and my best friend that was stuck in the bottom of my old dresser drawer.  That drawer was a mess when I was young because I had so many activities going at once. These became the prompts for my stories.

You might find that you are writing short essays sprinkled with poetry. You will have pages with just a “saying” on it. You might want to put down the wisdom that know one else knows you adapted.

Don’t worry about forgetting or not remembering enough.  Just get started. You’ll find you have a lot to write about.  And you can’t write everything about your life. If you recorded every single thing that ever happened in your life you would never finish writing. You want highlights.

With the leaders, some pulled out of feeling like their “time had passed” and started getting involved in their community again.  What happened was that after doing a great feat, many were worn out but didn’t recognize this as a natural reaction to doing something powerful.

Now, by seeing how a leadership event requires a time of healing and rest, these women can empower others to know this truth too.

It takes confidence to tell your story:

  1. Turn Life’s Problems into Inspirational Lessons. Almost any woman at a professional or executive level has endured many hard situations in life.  These situations come from the natural flow of life, caring for others with problems, making decision that bring bad consequences, natural disasters, abuses or other situations. Some problems place a heavy load on your emotions and spirit and keep you from feeling the joy of living.  Making bad mistakes that result in heavy costs sometimes strip a woman of joy.  To live life fully, you have to change your perspective on past emotional and spiritual burdens. Learn to see these events as lessons that can inspire you and others to be more emotionally and spiritually in tune with God and the universe. People are seeking an understanding of how to lift their emotional and spiritual burdens. These people seek understand from others who have experienced similar things. When you realize that your life’s problems have gifted you with the ability to provide inspiration to help others in the world it changes how you perceive your life’s problems. The development of your skills, knowledge, abilities and experiences come from your unique life’s lessons.  Break emotional and spiritual ceilings by coming to terms with your life problems and see how you have been strengthened to benefit others as a result of what you’ve experienced.
  1. Identify Your Value Systems. Values are those life characteristics that really matter to you. They are the deep seated ideas and beliefs that cause you to act as you do and to pursue the goals that you pursue, consciously or unconsciously.  The secret to working consciously is to be able to identify your true values.  The core values of your life will direct how you respond to what life brings. Your mind is at ease when you function within your value system. Say for example one of your values if being with family, but your job requires that you are away from family most of the time. Instead of being peaceful in your mind that what you’re doing is valuable and worth it, you will constantly be questioning yourself and your work. You might not even know why you’re not happy and satisfied.  Knowing your value systems lets you get your life in order so you your mind is at ease. You break the barriers to what keeps you from becoming more productive, happy and successful.  Take time to identify your values on a personal and professional basis.  Then you will be able to use this knowledge to put several area of your life in order.  For instance, you can even manage your time and increase your productivity by working within your values systems. These are incredibly important strategic success secrets that will help you break heavy burdens that impede your rise to success.  Learn to identify you value systems and you will break loads of ceilings at once.

Learn the Process of Forgiveness. The only way to get fully uncluttered in your body, mind, soul, and physical areas is to get rid of what no longer benefits you. That includes not only getting rid of physical and material things that are no longer useful but being able to let go of emotional remembrances, hurts and pain too. That means deciding to forgive, let go and move on. It helps to know that forgiveness is an often misunderstood process. Instead of being something that you have to do immediately, the act of forgiveness is actually a process that can take place over time. When you commit to take the steps to forgive, you gain back parts of your life that you’ve put on hold indefinitely.  Unforgiveness keeps you trapped in the past of an ugly situation that rots away at your very core. Forgiving others as well as yourself, could be the most difficult thing you achieve in your life. But being able to forgive and let go will also be the most powerful move you can make to save your life and become a whole person in the process. Be determined to let go of your deepest hurts, clutter, secrets, hatreds, thoughts, pains, and other hard situations, in any and all forms.  Do this to move fully into your present and future instead of staying in the past. You will break some of the heaviest weights that hang over your head that keep you shadowed under rotting and nasty ceilings. Instead, break free into the sunshine of a new future and glorious possibilities.

Why put it in writing.  People are looking for human relationship.  They want to work with people they know. They are no longer looking for the person who makes them fel that they have been surprised to work with them.

John Nasbitt – Megatrends.  High-touch; High Tech issues.  People are looking for high touch relationships.  Touch people form the heart. Let them know you are a person that has been through situations too; you’ve taken the lessons of life and learned how to overcome. They want to relate t the heart of the person instead of the words only. Everyone has words, but what about sharing who you are, the hurts and troubles.

It takes commitment to put it in writing:

  • Creates a permanent records
  • Makes you vulnerable by revealing your inner thoughts to the world.
  • Clarifies your thoughts and gets them in order

It takes a strategy to make it real.   

  1. Know What’s Going On Around You. Starting a business with long term success potential means knowing what’s going on around you in the world. While you have no control over most of these strategic factors, they will affect your business success. This includes in society, education, politics, economy, financial situation, the competition, worker base and some other areas. You need to recognize how these areas will affect you even before you file a business license to start your business!

Does that surprise you that this is the number one thing you needs do as a strategy for success online?  Well, not only do you need to do this to start an online business, you should do this no matter what type of business you want to start; and the majority of people who start their own business fail to take this strategic step. Unfortunately, this is one reason why so many businesses either fail to get started or fail shortly after starting.

The step is important because these areas can mean having the consumer base necessary to run a successful business. Situations change.  People are still buying things but the economy is tough right now.  Perhaps that great business idea you had last month will no longer be relevant if the consumer group has had a negative impact because of the situation.

In order to be sure your business idea is relevant to the marketplace, keep up with what’s going on around you.  You can’t run a business in isolation. Read newspapers, news magazines, learn about relevant sites on the Internet to tell you what’s going on. This primary strategic step will let you know what type of products and services are needed in the marketplace as well as important emerging trends.

Be ready be flexible. You may have to make some changes to your idea or be more creative about what you want to offer. You might even come up with a new idea or innovation to bring that has never been done before.

Throughout history, tough economic times are when many savvy and creative business people have become millionaires by meeting the needs of society. When you learn to understand what’s going on around you, you will position yourself for success as an online business owner.

  1. Get a Focus. I can hear the moans from all of your with a dozen different idea you want to start in you “online store.” It can be very difficult to hear that you have to get a focus to be a success on the Internet but that’s how it is. Just think of the multiple online stores that exist where you can find any product or service you want. It’s like competing with a Wal-Mart online. It takes a lot of money and marketing power to become a full online store.

Being a success online means finding a focus for your business. The hard part about this is letting go of the idea that everything you want to do would be a success online anyway.  Something’s wouldn’t be.  Taking a strategic view of your business idea helps because you will see how your idea fits into the marketplace. You have to find a business idea that gives something others need, want or desire.

  1. Select a Relevant Product or Service. After you take a look at the situation around you, it’s time to consider what you have to add to the marketplace. Take an assessment of your background and see where you can shine in a business. What could add to a marketplace that either doesn’t exist, does exist but you could do differently or that you can present as a new idea to the marketplace, or that the market really needs at this time?  Look at emerging trends and see where your product or service idea fits in?  Do you have something that is in demand or that will fit the needs of a new trend that will soon hit the market?

 One way to start taking a critical and strategic look at what you have to offer is to study the competition. Find and analyze businesses that are similar to what you want to present. What you are looking for is what the competition is already presenting and how you can distinguish yourself in the marketplace. You don’t have to throw your idea out if you find a lot of competition.  What you need to do is learn how to brand yourself to create a strong brand in the marketplace to set yourself apart.

Take time to work on presenting yourself in a new and unique manner that will let you stick out from the crowd.  Don’t worry if you’re not totally sure about your brand as you start.  A false start is better than no start at all.

  1. Understand Marketing Strategy. Marketing in general fits into either a business online or offline. Marketing is the business activity that puts your product or service in the face of your potential target market group. You determine the exact product or service, your position or brand, how you’re going to present yourself and your pricing structures.  All of these tactics have to be relevant to the target market.

With Internet marketing you will need to develop some basic things to get going which you’ll discover next.  But with internet marketing, remember you can do a lot of marketing for free or for a very low fee.  Before spending a lot of money on Internet marketing study free Internet marketing concepts such as submitting articles to article directories or using some of the business social networking sites such as Squidoo to create a web presence.

  1. Write Your Business Plan. Would you try to go on a business trip without knowing how to get from your home to where you were going? Would you go without even knowing where the meeting was located? Well, that’s what it’s like trying to run your business without a business plan. Business plans give you the directions on how to focus your business. You do have to think things through. It makes you look at your target market, marketing plans, operational concepts, even your finances.

A business plan doesn’t have to be lengthy; it just has to have information that is important for you to have to know how to operate your business.  If you want to develop business that will eventually need financing, a business plan will be a necessity for that.  But for you, just develop the basics of the plan so you will know how to structure and operate your business.

  1. Get Help. You won’t be able to do everything yourself. Even if you enjoy doing it all, eventually it will keep you from getting a lot done. Eventually you will need to start building your online business team. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do this. There are multiple freelance sites online where you can put out a n announcement of your business needs and let professional bid got help you.  One of these is elance.com.  another is guru.com.

Another great resource online is a virtual assistant.  This new type of business is s a person who does the type of things and administrative assistant would do for you in the workplace.  You can find va who knowhow to create websites, maintain your mailing list, even do regular contacts with your customers’.

Another resource person will be a good graphics designers.  You will need graphics for your ebooks, and other situations online. Start checking out the work of graphic  artists and other so you will be able to find your teams.

  1. Keep Learning. The internet is ever changing. So will your business. AS the world continues to change you will find that what you learn today will not be a relevant tomorrow.  Everything is going faster.  People now read ebooks on kindles instead of printing them out.  You will need to develop a mindset of a life long learner.  Without that you will soon be out of business as new technologies come in.  Being a life long learning on the web means selecting a professional mentor to help you move you business along.  Even if you feel that you have a handle on how to run your business, trying to do it in isolation will soon grow discouraging.  Hire a coach to keep you online and to make you accountable for your success.  Get involved with a group coaching for a more cost effective alternative.  Another alternative is a mastermind group.  These usually are smaller and a bit more expensive because you will get more personal assistance. Whatever you did, budget learning and coaching into your business in order to stay in business and grow your business.

First I help you clarify your dream or your vision. What exactly do you want in

this area? If you are unsure, as many people are, I have a process to help you

figure it out.

Next we uncover what is holding you back from having what you really want.

We identify any fears, concerns or obstacles that may be in your way and devise

strategies to overcome them.

Then we break your vision into six to eight bite-size manageable chunks called

“Keys to Success.” When you focus on your Keys to Success you will quickly

begin moving towards your dream.

From there, we create specific, measurable, goals and an action plan to achieve

them.

Through our weekly calls, I help keep you accountable, focused and inspired to

execute your plan. The difference between those who “have” and those who

“have not” is the execution of a plan. Many people have great ideas. For success,

you must ACT on them. I help you do that!

And

Take time to find the lessons in your story.  Write out what you’ve accomplished or find something to talk to about it. You will find a power that you may have failed to recognize before when you acknowledge the lessons in your story.

 

Business Leaders Should Write a Memoir

 

When you know how to find the stories of your life to write about, you will be amazed at how much you have to share through a memoir.  What you’ll be doing is simply writing what you know better than anyone else.  Of course, you can keep your business memories to yourself or only share them with a personally selected limited group of people.  But what about the hundreds or even thousands of people that would benefit from know more about how you ran your business or the great ideas you learned along the way?

People love a great story. There’s nothing more exciting than a story about how a person achieved a goal or solved a life problem. Be assured, you have more memories in your business life to write about than you can imagine.

 

  • No one can have your story.  You are a unique person with unique experiences in life. Your business story can only be told by you.
  • Your memoirs provide the benefit of letting you record the meaning and purpose of your business life in writing.
  • You have a right to record your business memories and to let others have the benefit of learning from your business experiences. 

Writing memoirs helps you recall the accomplishments or your life. They also let you review the hard life lessons that have built character along the way. Sharing the events of your life lets others learn from your experiences.

When you write your life with words, you look at your emotions, feeling, decisions, and choices. You understand the road you walked and the path you followed.

Your stories can be a way to honor those who influenced your life along the way. You can see the themes of your life and come to understand how you have made a difference in your world and to the world at large. 

 

When you fail to start writing your memoirs you are taking your life for granted. The best legacy you can pass along to those you care about are the stories you’ve gained throughout your work life. Start today by writing about your business, your challenges and accomplishments.  Tell what you did to achieve your goals. The ideas are endless but the writing doesn’t have to be. It just has to start.

Collect Family Stories

The holiday season is here. Can you believe it? This year, make it extra special. Collect family stories.

Holiday times create a combination of good times, good food, and good stories. How many times have you heard a relative tell the same story? You know exactly how the punch line goes and you’re sure you’ll never forget it. Well, wait a few years. When that storyteller is no longer around and the story starts to fade you will be surprised how quickly the familiar story is forgotten.

How many wonderful family stories have gone undocumented over the years? Do you take your family history for granted not realizing that the “things” of your family can be wiped out very quickly? When Hurricane Katrina wiped out most of New Orleans, many of my family members fell victim to that hard truth. Family artifacts were wiped out in a 24 hour period. Several family members are still displaced and material things that were expected to pass from generation to generation are long gone.

But, we still have stories. Now the stories include tragedy and triumph over a natural disaster. The family history has changed. But the ability to engage in the sharing of legacy can’t be erased as long as the stories are shared and recorded.

Have you started writing your family memoirs? Do you record those stories that you think will be with you forever? What is that one story that you hear every holiday gathering? Write it out. Then be sure to have it with you during the holidays to see if you got all of the details correct.