Have you noticed that marketing strategies today are using more story lines than ever before? Gone are the days when we bought something because we were told we needed it. Now, understanding the why behind a product is of greater importance and hence the need for stories behind products.
Reality TV shows are among the most watched because they tell real stories about real people. At times, we live our lives vicariously through reality TV. In a way we watch and believe that we too can participate. From shows like Undercover Boss, Shark Tank, America’s Got Talent and Survivor, we are drawn mostly to the stories that ordinary people are telling and living in front of us. From anger to empathy, these shows provide a wide range of emotions that seem to keep us hooked.
The Power of a story
But stories are not new. Jesus used stories to communicate truths, which would have otherwise not been digested by His audience. His stories drew crowds and there are some such as The Prodigal Son and The Good Samaritan that are widely known and referenced. Stories are sticky. They resonate deep with us as we locate ourselves within the stories we hear.
Telling your story
The good news is that you have a story too and if you live the life you have been given, and not try to compete with or copy others, your life will tell an impactful story as you engage in the following:
- Start: Every story has a beginning. The story of knowing God begins with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…….” But starting can be daunting. What we have to start with doesn’t often seem enough to be effective. The backdrop of the creation story is that the earth was “void, without form, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” When we start something we often shrink back due to the inadequacy and deficiencies we face. But we must start regardless. Starting is also painful. No baby is born into this world laughing. In fact, the cry of a baby is a way of communication. The womb is comfortable, warm, and familiar. The change of environment, from the womb into the world, is traumatic. I recently switched my running routine from evening to early morning. The change was to avoid the humidity and high temperatures. Starting became a challenge. The bed was warm and comfortable. What I thought would be an easy switch was painful as I struggled to fight off the urge to stay in bed instead of hitting the road. But I had to start. Whatever story your life will tell, the start must happen no matter how daunting or painful. For me, I use a simple formula for starting; start where I am, start with what I have, start doing what I can. No matter how small the start is, congratulate and celebrate yourself. It takes courage to start. But don’t stop at the starting line. You must get going!
- Shape: Your life will go through natural shaping process. This is where you notice that what you started is taking on form. You did not allow your feelings or reservations to pull you back to the deceptive warmth and comfort of stagnancy. Things are clicking; it’s not as hard to start as it used to be. It’s more rhythmic and less strenuous as you adapt and find your groove. Your brain is forming new neural pathways to adjust and accommodate this new routine. This accommodation is both a celebration and a warning. You celebrate that your focus is heightened and you are growing in confidence that you can do this, whatever it might be. It’s also a warning against laxity. Your feelings, fears, and doubts still lurk waiting to pounce and send you back to what was comfortable as soon as you step off the accelerator. But remember your purpose. Reaffirm the goal. Review your cause. Talk to yourself about your vision. See the end result in view and keep pressing forward. The stage where things take shape is also where resistance comes in waves and droves. Your mind is your biggest asset and what you feed it will fuel you for the course. See your mindset as a magnet, attracting the essentials needed to fuel your purpose while repelling what seems attractive but really a waste of time. When you train your brain to stay on task, it will sift out the chaff and leave what is of value to contribute to the shape your life is taking on. Your experiences are part of your shaping. The toil, tears, scars, setbacks, and uncertainties combine to mold you into an authentic teller of your story. During shaping, shame from the pain and regret of your negatives experiences can hem you into a life of compromise. Knowing the purity of your purpose and the intent of your life to serve, build, and inspire others keeps you living with the end in mind; the realization of your destiny.
- Share: What makes a story share-worthy? What stories are you attracted to the most? They are probably the ones that arouse the seat of emotion and move you to have empathy as you relate with the person sharing. Truth will not only inform us mentally, it will also stir us emotionally. It’s difficult to find a movie based on a true story that you didn’t want to watch. They encourage, uplift, and inspire us to be better. Often, if not always, they inform us to never give up. The best stories are always authentic at their core. No one else can tell the story of your life better than you can You are the writer. The words are your experiences. The pages are the seasons of your life. The characters are the people who have come your way to either build you or try to deter and delay you. You may think you have nothing to offer but your story is the best offering you can give to a world that is teeming with life but short on authentic storytellers. Don’t mimic someone else. It will rob you of the opportunity to tell the story that only you can tell. Give yourself permission to live your God-designed life. In doing so, you will be telling a share-worthy story.
Final thought: Start what you keep putting off. You will never find out what is on the other side if you don’t begin. Stay consistent, be kind to yourself, and let things take shape as you grow into the grind that is necessary for anything worthwhile to manifest. Share your story. The peaks and valleys you go through form the landscape that will attract others to pay attention to your story. Every life tells its own unique story. What do you want yours to say?
Keep on Keeping on!