With a warm smile on his face an elderly gentleman came up to speak to me after hearing my keynote on Ways to Live a More Meaningful Life and asked if he could tell me about an experience he’d had the previous week that made him decide not to retire for awhile after all. He told me he’d been a professional Bagpipe player for over 30 years. He performs at gatherings as varied as weddings, concerts and resorts at sunset. What he then told me has stuck in my mind for over a decade and makes me feel good every time I share it with others, so I often do.
Hint: that’s a valuable trait to spur others to share your story.
Here’s what he told me: This winter a longtime friend of mine, a funeral director, asked me to play music at a graveside service for a homeless man. No friend or family members could be found. My choir member friend and a minister kindly offered to provide a simple service at a pauper's cemetery in rural Kentucky and asked their family members to come too. I agreed to play bagpipe music at the beginning and end of the service. Yet I was not familiar with the backwoods there. Driving out to the service I got lost and harried, looking for signs. Much to my chagrin I finally arrived an hour late. The minister had already left it and so had those who came to witness the burial service. Only two backhoe operators and the gravediggers remained. They were quietly eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to them for my tardiness.
Yet I was resolved to honor this man in his death, thinking of the many forgotten people like him who had no one to acknowledge their life at the end. I got out my bagpipe, walked to the side of the fresh grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place. I paused, looked up at the sky, then held up my bagpipe and began to play. After a few minutes of playing I glanced over and noticed that the workers had put down their lunches and were listening. Suddenly I felt the numinosity of the moment, a connection with this man and all those who are alone in their passing, so I played with all my heart.
Two songs later I started Amazing Grace, letting myself scan the countryside. That’s when I saw the diggers were quietly weeping. Soon, so was I. When I finished, I quietly packed up my bagpipes and started walking back to my car, feeling much more at peace with the world. As I opened my car door, I heard one of the workers exclaim to his colleagues, "Sweet Mother of Jesus, I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty-two years." I smiled back at them, leaving feeling gratified for my capacity to touch their hearts too.
Sear Your Story in Their Minds Via a Surprise at the End
Did you see the classic movie Runaway Jury? If so do you remember how the character played by Gene Hackman attempted to bribe jurors? It seems that jurors can be swayed by much less via the same cue that affects us all in other settings. Here’s how. A college professor of Jayson Zoller described a past class project in which students were offered the opportunity, by a federal judge to research ways to improve the jury deliberation process. They researched factors as diverse as the mix of ethnic groups, ages, jury instructions and even the foods that jurors ate. They interviewed past jurors, trial attorneys and others players in the situation.
Much to their surprise, none of that mattered as much as one unexpected feature in the jury room. According to Paul Smith in Lead with a Story, the shape of the jury’s table had the biggest impact. The jurors’ conversations were dominated by the “foreperson” otherwise call the “presiding juror” who was seated at the head of the rectangular table. Jurors were less open in expressing their views. Conversely they were more egalitarian when the table was round or oval. Consequently, writes Smith, “It was those juries with round tables that came up with the most accurate and just verdicts.” As you might imagine, the students were excited about presenting to the judge their low-cost solution for improving justice in his district.
Belatedly they learned how vital it is to get crystal clear on both their goal for the project and the goal of the person they were serving. The judge’s view of improving jury deliberation was to speed up the process and eliminate the backlog of cases that made him work so hard. That’s why, upon hearing the students’ recommendations, he immediately did the opposite. He ordered all the tables in the jury rooms to be rectangular so that a dominating juror could push the process along.
Your side benefit in reading this story about jury deliberation is that you’ve just experienced, first hand, the power of having a surprise at the end of your story. People are more likely to remember stories with this feature, and this is why. UC Irvine neurobiologist, James McGaugh, found that rats, when given a stimulant, could learn faster how to get through a complex maze, but here’s the surprise. The rats that were given the stimulant right after the race, rather than right before running through it, were better at remembering how to get through the maze.
So, when you are attempting to learn something new, guess when you should have that cup of coffee? As Paul Smith writes in Lead With a Story, “The purpose of a surprise at the end is to sear the entire story in your audience’s long-term memory. That is vital as memories don’t form instantly in the brain like a photograph. They form over a period of time shortly after the event happens – a process psychologists call memory consolidation.” Hint: When you want your meeting, dinner party or other social gathering to be more convivial and beneficial for all participants you now know what table shape to seek.
You Can Boost Worker Initiative, Performance and Morale With Stories
“Rule books don’t govern behavior in any organization. Behavior is determined by what is rewarded or punished," concludes Smith. “Employees cannot possibly break all the rules themselves. They learn through the story they hear about other people’s behavior getting rewarded or punished. Make sure the stories in your organization or other group in which you are involved reinforce the behavior you most want others to have.”
Use the C.A.R. Method That Can Drive Your Story Farther
To craft your vignette include what Paul Smith, dubs the elements of a C.A.R.:
Context: Where and when does the story happen? Provide sufficient specific details so the story makes sense and no more.
Action: What is the catalyst, first turning point, climax and final action towards resolution?
Result: Why you told the story.
Keep in Mind the Power of Context When Crafting Elements of Your Story
During his speech at my cousin's graduation, Bill Cosby was making the point that true wisdom comes not from a classroom but from life. When he was in college, he said, his class endlessly discussed the question: Is the glass half full or half empty? So Cosby asked his grandmother the same question. She had it all figured out: "Depends on whether you are pouring or drinking."
Tell it So They Want to Re-tell it
Many times, you have only minutes to tell a vignette rather than a full-blown story. If you do that right, the listener will ask questions or offer suggestions, re-shaping it so it makes sense for their exact situation, thus self-training themselves to tell others, and embedding it deeper into their memory with each question, comment or other immediate action. Let your story go so they can make it their own and carry your story to others.
Vivid Characterizations are Key to Attracting Opportunities in Work and in Life
In our increasingly complex, connected world, your capacity to tell the story that is most re-told about your product, service, business—or yourself—is right up there with your need to keep honing your top talent and capacity to collaborate with people extremely unlike you. To make your message more indelible, condense it into a meme, as Sheryl Sandberg famously did with Lean In. To further bolster your idea, add a manifesto, a succinct set of supportive elements, as Stephen Covey did with his Seven Habits and Gretchen Rubin with her Eight Splendid Truths About Happiness attached to an image like an eight ball.
Say Something That Lifts Our Spirits
Even non-Scandinavians and optimists can feel their moods dampen during the dark of night. Luckily there are some easy ways to lift your spirits via stories. Here are three:
1. When describing something in the past, what role do you play in the story? Are more of your most retold stories anchored by a positively or a negatively felt incidents? Those who are most resilient, energetic, caring and involved with others tend to link their stories to redemptive themes. Those who are plagued by down moods often mark their stories with what went wrong and don't include a redeeming detail. These narrative themes affect our choices -- what we think we have to choose from -- and how others see us.
2. We each have many personalities inside us. Some situations enable us to use our best talents and display our best side. Instead of attempting to be a "virtuoso juggler" as many women do, discover the specific situations and underlying stories where you thrive. When you can identify those moments you are better able, like a defensive driver, to see potential danger farther ahead where situations or individuals spark your discomfort or worse. Conversely, knowing where you shine (temperament and talent) means you can make smarter choices about how you work and live -- and with whom. Learn more in Marcus Buckingham's book, Now Discover Your Strengths, which is intended for women, yet I know three male friends who have found it helpful in how they seek the situations that best serve them -- professionally, personally and socially.
3. We each have a set point along the continuum of pessimistic to optimistic. After winning the lottery or experiencing the death of a loved one, we eventually return to that same emotional set point.”
Craft a Story That Others See a Role in Which They Want to Play
When you want others to support and share your message craft a narrative in which they see a role they want to play and that they can gain wanted bragging rights when others proudly tell others about it. In Tell to Win Peter Guber calls that offering a purposeful narrative. In their re-telling of your story, they may reshape it, making it theirs, and thus making it even more relevant to the people they choose to tell. Thus your story can attract the involvement and support of more kinds of people. Some times you have only minutes to tell a vignette rather than a full-blown story. If you do that right the listeners will ask questions or offer suggestions, re-shaping it so it makes sense for their exact situation, thus self-training to tell others, imbedding it deeper into their memory with each question, comment or other immediate action. Let your story go so they can make it their own and carry your story to others. That ever expanding, pass-along effect can generate more visibility, value and credibility for your idea, cause, product or organization.
Anchor Your Suggestion With a Pertinent Story
To pull people into hearing and remembering your view, set it up with a brief anecdote. For example, as you recall the power of apt humor, cited earlier, here’s the droll way a client of mine prefaced his point to his team that he wanted to look at their project in fresh ways and hoped they would too: “There is an old story in Soviet Russia about a guard at the factory gate who at the end of every day saw a worker walking out with a wheelbarrow full of straw. Everyday he thoroughly searched the contents of the wheelbarrow, but never found anything but straw. One day he asked the worker: ‘What do you gain by taking home all that straw?’ The worker responded, ‘The wheelbarrows.’" When crafting your opening vignette, consider these factors: What’s the Pay-off or Penalty? Consequences influence behavior. People are more likely to do things when they like what will follow. Thus people are reinforced to repeat certain ways of acting, reduce other ways and stop still others. When you wish someone to act differently, how are you supporting or preventing that desired change?
Facilitate Bragging Rights By Helping Others Look Good When They Participate
To scale your story provide ways, in person and online, where people can add or react to it in ways that reinforce what they most like in themselves. That way others, who share your idea, can gain bragging rights to become more positively visible to those who matter to them. Multiply the ways and reduce the steps it takes for others to share your idea, offer or story. For example, Huffington Post launched a Third Metric section to cover diverse examples of “redefining success beyond money and power,” to include such life facets as giving back, family, friendship, mindfulness and health. By thus broadening their definition of real success, Huffington Post enabled more kinds of people to share their related stories and advice. Some the contributed articles that came out right after this change included ”Why This Banker Quit Wall Street to Become a Monk” and “Improve Your Life by Improving the Lives of Others.” Also by hosting a conference on their broader definition the publication provided more ways for people to bond and “brag” about their favorite stories face to face, thus deepening their loyalty to Huffington Post.
Provide Guiderails For Others to More Easily Contribute Apt Stories
That means providing five or fewer specific rules, traits or guidelines so that contributors can see how to submit apt stories. In fact, having a few concrete rules for your team, cause, club, company or other kind of organization enables participants to feel more confident in making appropriate contributions. Make one rule be that you welcome suggestions for changing the rules. A New Culture of Learning co-authors, John Seely Brown and others dubbed this bounded and unbounded learning and sharing. This approach spurs us to be more clear in our thinking and communicating, and thus more helpful and us-minded as we contribute. This approach spurs us to be more clear in our thinking and communicating, and thus more helpful and us-minded as we contribute. This approach spurs readers to be more clear, helpful and us-minded when they contributed. Huffington Post, for example, makes it easy to comment on the story and when some comments involve a related story, they sometimes reach out to involve that reader in a separate follow-up column. Readers also can see what friends of their from other social channels have liked or commented on a story. In just one click we can Tweet a story we like. Hint: How can you reduce the steps it takes for others to share your good news stories? The online organization Upworthy has built its whole business around sharing uplifting stories that are surprising, meaningful, visual and shareable—and invites others to contribute their stories that share these traits.
In Breaking Out John Butman calls this effect respiration because, once your idea is expressed in ways that others can respond to, it becomes more animated, “It can breathe on its own... nourished by others.” Frans Johansson, in The Click Moment, dubs this “The Hook” on which others can visibly hang their ideas and more. That pass-along effect enables you to involve and engage more people so you can serendipitously attract more people around sweet spots of shared interest. What other categories of stories make you feel good in sharing – and will spur others to want to gain bragging rights by commenting on them and adding to them. For example, Huffington Post launched a Third Metric section to cover diverse examples of “redefining success beyond money and power” from Sue Parks: Why Exercise Is a Great Way to Boost Your Bottom Line to Why This Banker Quit Wall Street to Become a Monk and Improve Your Life by Improving the Lives of Others. By hosting a conference on the theme they created a further way for people to bond around the topic and “brag” about their favorite stories face to face.
Create a “Hook” On Which Others Can Benefit By Hanging Their idea Onto It
Six Laws of Attraction author, Matthew May uses six “hooks” that you can adapt to boost the visibility of your idea, cause or project. For some of his laws, he builds upon other well-known experts’ ideas, thus boosting their visibility and instilling bragging rights in them as they are spurred to share the positive way he cited their insights. Building upon May’s hooks, listed below, I’ve added a Kare’s Corollary Law to each of them:
Law #1: What Isn’t There Can Often Trump What Is
“When you reduce the number of doors that someone can walk through, more people walk through the one that you want them to walk through.” ~ Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen.
Kare’s Corollary Law
Entice yet don’t overwhelm would-be customers by offering them just three versions of your service or product, making all three visible at once. Show a low-cost yet enticing basic option; and one full of all the bells and whistles, or a premium parts the package with more parts;; and a middle option that is literally displayed in the middle. Subtracting other distracting options in this way spurs more people to buy something, and the average buy will be bigger. That’s my takeaway from Barry Schwartz’ The Paradox of Choice where he, like Matthew May, suggests that too many options often don’t make us smarter or happier with what we choose, if we do choose anything.
Law #2: The Simplest Rules Create the Most Effective Experience
Keeping it simple isn’t easy. By exploiting subtraction in innovation, we’ve been able to create an environment of freedom and creativity that allows us to thrive.” ~ Brad Smith, CEO, Intuit
Kare’s Corollary Law
Setting just a few rules makes it seems like you really thought about them and intend to make them stick and thus they are more likely to be remembered and followed. Plus this approach is more likely to create, what John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, in A New Culture of Learning, call a “bounded and unbounded” environment in which people are more likely to learn and invent tacitly, fueled by their passionate interests. In such cultures people feel more free to self-organize into teams as the need or opportunity arises, and add their own relevant Rules of Engagement. With fewer rules and more freedom, we are more likely to tinker, suggests John Seely Brown. In this increasingly complex, rapidly changing world, it behooves organizational leaders to optimize their colleagues’ capacity to innovate by spurring self-organizing inventiveness around their organization’s core mission.
Law #3: Limiting Information Engages the Imagination
“Subtraction can mean the difference between a highly persuasive presentation and a long, convoluted, and confusing one. Why say more when you can say less?” ~ Carmine Gallo, author of The Apple Experience
Kare’s Corollary Law
As you learned earlier, it pays to get specific sooner. Start with the specific detail that proves your general conclusion, not the reverse, which is our natural tendency.
Law #4: Creativity Thrives Under Intelligent Constraints
“Here’s the key to the conundrum for managers who want to stoke the innovation fire: That close cousin of scarcity, constraint, can indeed foster creativity.” ~ Teresa Amabile, author of The Progress Principle
Kare’s Corollary Law
To spark people’s interest in innovating under constrained circumstances, build into the process small, short-term experiments—what Peter Sims dubbed Little Bets—so participants experience both group agreement that early failures are ok and that some successes happen sooner too, to fuel persistence around the task. That notion is congruent with the subtitle of Teresa Amabile’s co-authored book: “using small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work.”
Law #5: Break Is the Important Part of Breakthrough
“If you kill the butterflies in your stomach, you’ll kill the dream. Embrace the feeling. Save the butterflies.” ~ Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty.
Kare’s Corollary Law
The upside to feeling those butterflies is to recognize that you are Daring Greatly in the wake of being vulnerable, according to Brene Brown. Then you can work and live more fully engaged with others. Subtract blame, shame, and cover-ups. Set apt boundaries with others, and pull in people with whom you can be open. That simplifies life.
Law #6: Doing Something Isn’t Always Better Than Doing Nothing
“When we’re faced with the greatest odds against us, often we need to edit rather than add,” suggested Chip Conley, cofounder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and author of Emotional Equations.
Kare’s Corollary Law
To make smarter choices on exactly what to “edit, rather than add” pair up with someone who is highly experienced on that topic and with a novice, according to performance expert and author of Choke, Sian Beilock. Through working together, the three of you wind up teaching and learning the other and thus gaining clarity on the subject.
Enable Others Be the Stars in Your Story
People are more likely to like you and to buy your idea or product if they are placed in a situation where they can be respected, a visible expert, exploring the topic their way. Better yet, enable them to gain bragging rights, proving themselves right – in front of others - in their choice to buy from you your organization and/or to support you. Imagine, for example, the astonishment of the staff -- and the sommelier -- at Bone’s, an Atlantic steak house when they started handing dining guests iPads at the table, loaded with a copy of the wine list. Purchases of wine shot up 11 percent. Mused Mr. Reno, the sommelier, “With the information on the device, they seem more apt to experiment by buying a different varietal or going outside their price range. It stuns me, but they seem to trust the device more than they trust me, and these are people I’ve waited on for 10 years.” Or, perhaps diners feel more comfortable and confident, looking at various wines themselves and discussing them at the table. The key here is that they get to be the expert. Hint: Let others take charge of your message, tweak it for their needs and thus sell themselves on it.
Make Your Good News Especially Memorable
Notice how the Huffington Post headlines I cited earlier had specifics like Nashville and Valentine? They tell a story then share the explicit, inherent takeaway lesson that can spur others to emulate the cited good behavior. Hint: the specific detail proves the general conclusion, not the reverse. That’s why these stories are powerful specificity engines upon which you can speed others’ sharing of your core message. Tie your engagement-inducing good news sharing to a holiday, specific positive emotion, or explicit goal such as spurring camaraderie among your customers, constituency, or online community. The online organization Upworthy has built its whole business around sharing uplifting stories.
Play Your Best Role in Your Own Life Story
To pull people into hearing and remembering your idea, set it up with an anecdote that reflects well on you. For example, what if you wanted to suggest that people were looking at a problem from the wrong perspective? Example: There is an old joke in Soviet Russia about a guard at the factory gate who at the end of every day saw a worker walking out with a wheelbarrow full of straw. Everyday he thoroughly searched the contents of the wheelbarrow, but never found anything but straw. One day he asked the worker: "What do you gain by taking home all that straw?" "The wheelbarrows." Are your most retold stories anchored by positively or negatively felt incidents? Those who are most resilient, energetic, caring, and involved with others tend to link their stories to redemptive themes. The role you most often play in the stories you tell reveals your view of the world, how friendly or hostile you are, and more. How we describe our life story and the last incident we experience say so much about how we have fallen into the habit of how we view the world – others and ourselves, in a dire or positive way, and thus what will probably happen. Consequently we sometimes spur self-fulfilling prophecies. Now, more than ever, our vivid descriptions can travel farther, faster and in more directions, pulling in unexpected critics -- AND friends and allies. In part that’s the upside and downside of social media. Here’s to your harnessing the upside of opportunities in our increasingly socially connected world where in-person experiences are increasingly rare and more vital for a meaningful, enjoyable life.
Anchor Your Stories in Redemptive Themes So We Are Moved to Live Up to Them
Rather than making yourself the victim or the hero in the stories you tell, describe a daunting time of loss, crisis, or criticism, or a learning experience where you made a mistake or acted badly. Such stories show vulnerability and a desire to grow and live fully, with others, rather than in fear. Then that facet of you can be the place where others can positively and productively connect with you, hard-earned strengths firmly attached together. You can support each other in reinforcing redemptive characterizations and actions.
Spread Your Key Idea That Turns Your Life Into an Adventure
Dog whisperer Cesar Millan “runs with as many as 65 dogs at time — many of them pit bulls with histories of aggression — without leashes or other kind of restraint,” writes John Butman, author of Breaking Out. That’s because of a life-changing discovery earlier in his life when he saw that Americans mistakenly let their pet dogs take control. Where he grew up, in Culiacan, Mexico, dogs weren’t trained. They didn’t even have names. But he knew, even as a child, that he had “an uncanny connection with them” and it was by being in charge. That insight spurred him to come to the U.S., get a job at a dog grooming shop to hone his approach and eventually host a TV show, write books that have sold millions, and appear at huge events around the world — all because of his ability to build a constituency around his core talent-as-idea story: “calm assertiveness.” What’s your key story to share?
Warning: Your idea may be so provocative and thus hotly debated that it evokes what Butman dubs hyperventilation, as Millan has done. But let’s first focus on distilling your most deeply felt idea so you attract others to it.
How to Unearth Your Main Big Idea From The Many You Have
In describing how we can “build influence in a world of competing ideas,” Butman suggests that we look for “iconic moments,” even from childhood, where an insight grabbed hold of you and persists in your thoughts. That may be the root of the idea that you are to grow with others, he suggests in his book. These moments, says Butman, reveal your “fascination aroused” and can be “wellsprings” for growing your standout idea and related talent. To discover yours, get a good friend who has already heard you talk about what most matters to you. My suggestion? Pick someone who is willing to be persistent and press you in conversation in a quiet room, with a smart device recording your conversation. Butman suggests you ask, “What most fascinates you about your idea right now? Yet this inevitably evokes many general statements and attempts to provide background and context for the interest. Yet that’s just verbal underbrush that obscures your core idea. After a series of attempts to circle the subject — that’s natural — your friend can press you to go deeper and to get more specific. Your friend might ask, “What’s your favorite example of that idea in action?” or “What’s a what-if dream scenario that comes to mind for your idea in action?” Eventually, your most deeply felt, core concept will spill out of your mouth. You may be so thrilled that you agree to reverse roles and offer the same opportunity to your friend.
Become A Greater Author Of Your Life Story
“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact… It is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including and the tangible things you have created. Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery and purpose will have a powerful body of work,” writes Slim. I heartily agree with Slim when she writes that, “in the new world of work, our ability to create a powerful body of work is what will determine our ongoing employability.” Taking this approach you can remain relevant by Becoming a Category of One, as Joe Calloway suggests. You can optimize what you know as Marci Alboher outlined in One Life/Multiple Careers, thus sometimes Reinventing You as Dorie Clark advocates for the times when you want to turn the page to a new chapter of work – and you want others to understand that shift. Become at least one of the more frequently cited among sources of the words most likely to be repeated about you, your work, your loved ones, and your most passionate interests, starting now. In these time-starved, relationship-diminished times, use the impending turn of the century as your positive, mega-deadline to turn the rest of your life into your kind of blockbuster story. Peel away the boring, up-front qualifiers and wandering background words. Drop the secondary detail until you have hooked the listener into wanting to know more. You are not acting like a robot but rather choosing to have a few seconds of forethought in respect to the listener's innate interests, worldview, or current situation. Not only do you tell the truth, you tell the best detail of that truth upfront to engage the person you most want to have hear you. Look for the heartwarming happening, contrasting facts or statistics, best/worst case scenario, extraordinary incident, flattering and genuine compliment, glittering opportunity or looming threat, a cherished colleague's choice, or respected opinion leader's actions to introduce your topic into conversation.
Play An Uplifting Role in Your Life Story
Are the stories you tell more likely to be anchored by positively or negatively felt incidents? The role you most often play in the stories you tell reveals your view of the world, how friendly or hostile it is, and your view of the role you play in it. Those who are most resilient, caring, and involved with others tend to link their stories to redemptive themes. Rather than making yourself the victim or the hero in the stories you tell, sometimes describe a daunting time of loss, crisis, or criticism, or a learning experience where you made a mistake or acted badly – and what you learned from it. Such stories show vulnerability and a desire to grow and live fully, with others, rather than in fear, and can pull listeners closer to you. Plus that candor can reinforce in you your capacity to grow wiser, over time. Psychologist, Carol Dweck calls that cultivating a growth mindset. Your talking in this way may spur the other person to share similarly, Then you two may be moved to support each other in reinforcing redemptive characterizations and actions.
Some people sap our energy and even dull our thinking because they are on the “diminisher” end of the behavior continuum, where “multipliers” are on the other end, according to Liz Wiseman and Greg Mckeown, co-authors of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Yet even those who seem self-centered can be primed to feel more empathic when they otherwise would not, according to researcher Erica Hepper. In her study, extreme narcissists watched a ten-minute video of a woman describing her experience as a victim of domestic violence. In advance they were asked to “Imagine how Susan feels. “Try to take her perspective in the video, imagining how she is feeling about what is happening.” After watching, their empathy suddenly kicked in. Via physiological testing, Hepper could confirm that they weren’t attempting to simply look admirable. One wider lesson we can learn from this is that it pays to speak to others as if you assume they are caring. Thus you are more likely to bring out that quality in them when they are around you. By adapting a version of this “as if” approach, when leading a team, you can boost goodwill and productivity. In advance of the team’s first meeting, send them a pithy noticing indicating the top goal of the team and exactly how each member’s talent can contribute to that goal. That primes the members to view each other positively and feel proud to be a part of the team plus it primes them to want to perform well with and for each other.
Deepen Emotions in an Innately Personal Way
Here are three techniques to spur others to remember your story, even when they did not try to: connect with a universal experience. Imagine that the brain is like a wall with clothes hooks on it. For the brain to catch and retain a detail, that detail must hang on one of the memory-inducing hooks that are already in the brain. The biggest hooks are the three universally felt, core life experiences:
2. hometown or town where you have lived or are living, and
3. past or current kind of work.
For family, relate what you're saying to a family situation: yours, theirs, someone else's, or even a metaphorical family of services. Or relate your topic to the listener's work situation or work with which she is familiar. People also remember landmark places where they live, or have lived, or have visited.
What’s The Thread That Ties Your Story Together?
Forget making New Year’s resolutions. They are notoriously hard to keep. Instead set out on a concrete path to make the next chapter of your life more meaningful and satisfying. How? Begin by “finding the thread that ties your story together” suggests Pamela Slim in her new book, Body of Work. Intuitively, you know that the stronger the role you can play in your career options, the greater the chance you will be productive and happy with them. Finding a way to use your multiple interests and talents in a coherent whole enables you to grow your unique and valuable mastery. That’s key to living the illusive, flourishing life you seek.
Know When It’s Time To Move On
However you are working now, where are you on what Pamela Slim dubs “the loathing scale” ranging from one to ten? That scale ranges from deep dislike of your situation to where ”you don’t have to struggle so much everyday to make a happy, healthy living?” Even if you are in that comfortable “happy” work situation, what Jim Collins calls “the sweet spot” and Martha Beck describes as the “Promised Land” Slim calls it “dangerous.” You are not challenging yourself to hone your core mastery and thus vulnerable to losing options in your future. To keep growing your body of work, rather than getting “out of your comfort zone, she agrees with Michele Woodward’s re-framing: “enlarge your comfort zone.” Who knows? You may choose to quit sooner.
Find Your True Path Of Maximum Mastery And Opportunity
Gain a more concrete insight into how you define success for your life and credible way to share your authentic story with others by following her eight-step path. You are more likely to stick to this path because Slim displays warmth then competence in describing her steps: concrete steps with checklists, examples, heart-warming success stories, and perhaps most of all, first-hand examples of her personal success and satisfaction in following this approach. Here are just some of the many takeaways from this book, which I strongly recommend:
The life-changing event for David Batstone was reading a news story that two women were found dead in their apartment from a broken hearting vent that leaked carbon monoxide into it. That’s how he learned that the landlord for their building, the owner of his favorite restaurant, was, in fact a major human trafficker. Horrified, and a curious man by nature, he spent a year studying human trafficking then launched Not For Sale, a non-profit to stop it.
Founding it incorporated many of his personal “ingredients” as an investor, businessperson and journalist. “My worlds were very separate. Until Not For Sale, I lived a siloed existence. I never saw my multiple interests as a problem. I saw the threads to my story. It was a natural, logical quilt. Not For Sale was the first time I could bring all my worlds together,” he told Slim.
Hint: As you identify your most valuable assets, which Slim dub ingredients “skills, strengths, experiences, identity and knowledge” and feel comfortable with your “quilt” as your true path, you are more likely to be pulled into a work life that integrates more of them. A complementary way to identify them is to recognize what Marcus Buckingham calls your “strongest moments.”
Ready to Turn the Page to a Better Next Chapter of Your Life Story?
Writing of her secret life as a prostitute, a blogger with the pseudonym Belle de Jour had a backstory worthy of a movie script. In fact it was turned into a Showtime TV series. She wanted to have a satisfying next chapter of her life story so she wrote about it. You see she’s “a respected specialist in developmental NeuroToxicology and cancer epidemiology.” Few of us lead a startling double life yet we may want to play a new part in the next chapter. To create fresh scenes for your life, view it as a movie story. That’s what Donald Miller did when he wrote A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Screenwriters know that in a movie a Character is What He Does. An Inciting Incident must happen.
Kare Anderson’s TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker has attracted over 2.5 million views. She is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal journalist, now a speaker on connective behavior and quotability. Her TEDx talk on Redefine Your Life Around a Mutuality Mindset is now a standard session for employees and invited clients at 14 national and global corporations. Her ideas have been cited in 16 books. Her clients are as diverse as Salesforce, Novartis, and The Skoll Foundation. She was a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown and co-founder of nine women’s political PACs. For Obama's first presidential campaign she created over 208 issues, formation teams. She was Pacific Telesis' first Cable TV and Wideband Division Director and a founding board member of Annie's Homegrown. Kare is the author of How We Can Be Greater Together, Opportunity Makers, Mutuality Matters, Moving From Me to We, Beauty Inside Out, Walk Your Talk, Getting What You Want, and Resolving Conflict Sooner. She serves on the boards of The Business Innovation Factory, TEDxMarin, and World Affairs Council Marin.