How to Tell Your Story for Life Change

Success Oct 30, 2016 2 Comments

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How many stories can you recall from your childhood?

Cinderella, Snow White, Robin Hood, on and on. Perhaps you haven’t heard them in three decades, yet you can name the central characters, plot, and theme.  

You remember them because they’re stories, well-told stories.

But well-told stories are so much more than memorable, they’re also transformational.

And that’s why I tell my story.

Why a Story Makes Us Cry

Marion Roach-Smith encourages writers in The Memoir Project to settle for no less that transforming people’s lives when telling one’s story.  

You have to give readers a reason for this thing (your story) to live on in their hearts and minds.

Only then can we laugh at our own family’s shenanigans, alter our habits in regards to climate change, or have a transcendent experience by merely reading words on a page.

How true.

When we weep upon hearing someone else’s story, we are not crying because we feel sorry for them. We are crying because we feel what they are feeling.

This recently happened to me.

I was listening to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ audiobook and began to cry as he told the story of his mom committing suicide due to her bouts with depression. Her success as an attorney and athlete was no match for the deep pain that she just couldn’t shake.

I cried because I’ve felt that same pain before.

I’ve felt my own soul shrink as I smiled and encouraged others. I’ve put on a front that everything was cool while I died inside a little more each day.

This kind of weight becomes crushing. And eventually, it will crush the life out of you completely. Just like it did to Drew’s mom.  

Driving down interstate 10, in that moment, I hurt for her. I hurt with her. And I cried.

Why?

Because Drew’s story tapped into my own experience – a universal experience. And somehow, it made my own experience more meaningful.

So yes, stories are transformational.

Someone Else’s Story is Always Better 

I recently spent some time with an acquaintance and was absolutely mesmerized by his story.  For an hour a half he recounted to me (upon my request) over a decade of personal suffering – grossly unjust suffering.

Later that night in my room I thought, “What am I doing traveling around and telling people about coming back from burnout, depression, parenting a sick child, and a lost calling? My life has been a cakewalk compared to this guys. His story is WAY BETTER than mine.”  

But here’s the thing, the sensationalism of a story doesn’t determine whether or not it changes the world. Whether or not a story is told, and told well determines if it changes someone’s life or not.

And that’s why I write and why I strive to write well. I want to change your life.

I’m not sure my friend tells his story. Heck, I’m not even sure if legally he CAN tell it. (It would make a great Hollywood script…no lie)

But I do know many people with phenomenal stories of revenge, redemption, courage, and perseverance that keep their tales to themselves.

In the end, their life-changing experience changes no lives but their own.  

So why don’t more people tell their stories? I believe there are five main reasons.

The Top 5 Reasons People Don’t Tell their Story

Reason #5 – “It’s too much work.”

One reason that people don’t want to share their story because it’s hard work. Effectively communicating your trials, tribulations, and adventures will require you to spend hours of careful crafting. Furthermore, you must build a social platform from which to broadcast it or else no one will hear it.

If you don’t want to share your story because it’s hard work, fair enough. You’re wise to count the cost.

Reason #4 – “I hate attention.”

There are also those who choose not to share their journey because they don’t want the attention that their story might bring.

If you want to keep quiet because you value personal privacy and solitude, good call. Even positive attention can be a pressure cooker.

Reason #3 – “I would get sued.”

Some people have been legally bound by a court-of-law to carry his or her story to the grave. Furthermore, sometimes digging up bones that reopen old wounds is just a very bad idea.  

If you don’t tell your story because of the damage its disclosure would cause. “Wisdom thou art a jewel.” (Marion Roach-Smith has great advice on deftly handling the public disclosure of stories that affect others in chapter 1 of The Memoir Project.  

Reason #2 – “My story isn’t interesting.”

Many believe that their memoire is just not important enough to tell. They think that their life is not unique, not relatable to others, and would make zero difference in anyone’s life.

If you don’t tell your story because you think it doesn’t matter anyone, bad call.

Your story has:

  • a unique plot
  • a universal theme
  • transformational power

While it’s true that there is nothing new under the sun, it is also true is that there are no two fingerprints alike. Put your fingerprint on the page, put your fingerprint on video, put your fingerprint on a podcast and see what happens.  

Reason #1 – “I don’t know how.”

As I mentioned earlier, good storytelling is hard. Telling your memoir in such a way that brings transformation requires:

  • story crafting
  • audience gathering
  • story delivery.

These three skills must be developed over time. Therefore, unless you have training and experience in these disciplines, you would probably struggle to get your story out. Eventually, you would just give up.

Like most people.  

But they don’t have to. And neither do you.

You Help with your Story?

In today’s economy interconnected, online world of work there are more coaches than ever in the areas of writing, speaking, and marketing.  

I know this because I happen to be one of them.

  1. Need help writing a SPEECH?  

I have twenty years of public speaking experience and can help you put your story into speech form in such a way that conveys emotion, holds the audience’s attention, calls for transformation.

  1. Need help WRITING a memoir, essay, or blog post?

As an English teacher and writer, I can also coach you in writing your story in the form of essays, blogs, or eBooks.

  1. Need help MARKETING your message so that it impacts a larger audience?

As a blogger and speaker, I can coach you through how to get your first words out there to the public. (By the way, once you start there’s no turning back…it’s way too exciting!)

To find out if my services might be fit for your project, fill out the form below and I will contact you for a free consultation .

In the meantime, be encouraged, my friend.

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jathan

2 Comments

  1. Donna Miller

    Jathan I would love to sit with you and tell you my story.

    • jathan

      Would love to hear it!

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