I recently attended CAPS2015, a conference for professional speakers where I had the opportunity to meet all kinds of incredibly interesting people. As all in attendance were speakers by profession the natural start to every introduction was “so what do you speak about?” – meaning “what is your area of expertise?” followed with and “what’s your story?” – meaning, how did you develop that expertise?
After a few days I had shared my story dozens of times, to the reply “wow, that’s a great story!” I then would reciprocate with the same two questions often followed spontaneously by the same response.
Out of each challenge, mistake or triumph came stories that inspired, empowered, validated, corrected and opened up new windows to the world. Terry Poulson CSP, CPAE said “each one of us needs to share our window because it is the only one of its kind.”
One person had been mugged and badly beaten but shared a message of forgiveness. One woman lost her husband to suicide at a very young age but shared her journey to overcome guilt and shame. One had been bullied as a child yet rose above that to help tens of thousands of kids by starting a global anti-bullying movement. I met a man with no arms sharing an attitude of gratitude as well as people who had conquered self doubt and fear to attain high levels of success in sport or business. My friend Jason Hewlett a motivational speaker and all around funny guy, inspires us to embrace our uniqueness. What is his story? If you ask him he will say “I have a huge mouth, and I can do all kinds of weird facial contortions”. You might think, that’s not a particularly exceptional talent, In fact growing up people called him weird and strange. What makes Jason so remarkable is that he has learned to use his story and share his gift of uniqueness to help everyone he meets celebrate their own weirdness.
Don’t listen to those who say your gift, your window your story isn’t worth telling.
You have had many experiences and triumphs in your life and yes others have too, but no one has seen them through your window except you. Your team, your customers and your community need to hear your story and see through your unique window.
I love your story because it’s yours.
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Peter van Stralen is a keynote speaker, author and business coach helping business owners, leaders and managers be all they can be. To book your 1/2 hour free consultation email firstname.lastname@example.org – I look forward to speaking with you.