When you first meet someone, what’s the story you tell them?
- Do you share what you do and how much you work?
- How busy, overwhelmed or exhausted you are?
- How overtime is killing you right now?
- Do you share what you’ve been meaning to start?
- How long you’ve been trying to get it going?
- How much of a procrastinator you are?
- Do you share what you aren’t right off the bat?
- How you just aren’t the person to lead the project?
- How networking has never been your thing?
These are external stories – what we present and showcase to others, often unconsciously, to paint a picture of ourselves and, if we’re honest, to protect ourselves.
What I want to get at are the internal stories behind them.
- Maybe the reason you’re so busy, overwhelmed and exhausted at work isn’t entirely because you’re a hard worker, but because you’re constantly trying to overcompensate out of a belief that you’re not good enough.
- Maybe the reason you’re not getting a side idea or work initiative started isn’t because you don’t have time, but because you’re afraid you’ll fail at something you really care about.
- Maybe the reason you’re so easily self-deprecating isn’t because you’re not good at networking or leading a team, but because it’s too vulnerable to try something new or not be instantly good at something so you’re playing it safe.
Until you really dig past the external and pull up the roots of the internal, you’ll keep living by the well-rehearsed external stories you tell people and never really grow or change. You’ll never get to the bottom of things because addressing the topical is a short-lived gain.
Shifting the internal story is the only way to change your external narrative.
The best way to do that?
Find the hero-you version of the story and adopt it daily.
- Instead of constantly trying to overcompensate out of a belief that you’re not good enough, start acting from a place of: “I am doing the best I can. I am constantly learning. I am enough.” Slowly speak life into what you are doing instead of what you aren’t.
- Instead of being afraid you’ll fail at something you really care about, start practicing with bite-size chunks or 30-minute increments instead of not starting at all. Slowly build up a different story with doable action that offers evidence of progress.
- Instead of playing it safe and steering away from something new, start with the next step. Maybe read a book about it or watch a Youtube video on it or talk to someone who’s done it already – something low-risk that can ease you into taking a bigger, more vulnerable action.
Once you start shifting your internal stories, you’ll find the external stories that come out of your mouth begin to change too, along with the ideas and boxes you’ve put yourself into.
The point is, the stories we tell become the lives we live, so in order to change what we don’t like, we need to work on our internal stories.
Which leaves us with one simple question:
Are you willing to?