“Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller.”
- Donald Miller
So I have a confession to make--I love telling other people's stories, but I haven't told mine...yet. Today, I'm going to share with you just one of my stories--one type of story (there are many types of stories). It's the story of where my journey began as to how I started my first business at the age of 24.
The reason I'm sharing this story is because honestly...I've been told time and time again that it's about time I told my story. My excuse is that I'm always so busy telling other people's stories and showing them how to share theirs and I've just never got around to telling mine. But the cat is out of the bag, and the truth is...Telling your stories requires vulnerability. I'm great with vulnerability...just not my own!
And well, which story do I tell? Because it's kinda complicated. And I don't want to bore people with my stories. Hell! Other people's stories are much more interesting--or so I keep telling myself. The thing is, we don't have to tell all of our gory, uncensored, and drama-filled stories. You know those stories? The ones about the challenges and the times we'd rather forget. We think, "who wants to know ,right?".
But here's the thing--unless we tell other people of our struggles, not just the triumphs, it's hard for them to relate and they wonder if we're really qualified to give them what they need. Sometimes people need to know that we are real people with real feelings and experiences. And you know, we only have to tell the stories that our audiences can relate to.
And sometimes, we just need to tell them because they need to be told--for our own good, and because it gives others permission to be vulnerable too. It's kind of the great equaliser.
An Unconventional Story of Where Things Started
So the very top picture is me is as a black belt in Karate with my original club (which is still around BTW), twenty-something years ago now. The other photo (above) is me doing a public demonstration of chinese staff in Yangshuo in China in 1995. By this time, I had left my old Karate club, started a partnership and built my own martial arts club of around 200 students, and we had just made a huge transition from (Shito Ryu) Karate to Shaolin Kung Fu. We were in China training with our Kung Fu masters at the time this photo was taken.
Unless you've done any type of martial arts , it may have missed your attention that it's a pretty big undertaking to transition to another martial art, and one whose principles are in complete opposition. It's unheard of. In fact, it's highly unconventional.
And that's the whole point...my life has been built on being 'unconventional'. I just don't accept the status quo and if I can find how to do something better, I'll do it, regardless of how it may appear to others. I've kind of always marched to the beat of my own drum.
So how does that relate to business?
Well the other thing I've never publicly shared is that starting my martial arts club was my first foray into business. It was also my biggest failure and it took a long time to get over. The reason being was I started this club because I saw an injustice in the other club I was at. Who would have known that I would suffer a greater injustice at the hands of the very person whom the original injustice was perpetrated upon (my partner)? It took a long time to get over, because it was my first big dream of having a business that would sustain me financially, keep me fit and something that I was so passionate about. We were growing and expanding--we had instructors opening branches--life was good...I thought my life was set. It was never about the money though--it was about the people--the students and the family we'd created. And it was about the dream and how I lived a life of purpose. Oh how naive I was back then..in my early 20's and bullet-proof!
You see, my story, or rather, this particular story (because there's more than one) is not necessarily about 'video' or marketing. But it's about business in a way, and it's about relating to you. I may not know who you are and I may not know all your stories, but I know that there will be at least one of you who may have had a similar experience in business and there may be one of you who can maybe relate. And there may also be another one of you that may not have had a business failure, but you may have been deceived or you may relate to feeling bullet-proof when you were a young dreamer just like me (maybe you still are).
And you know...I'm still that dreamer. It's just that now I've been knocked down a few more times and I'm just a little older and a bit battle-worn, a little bit more cautious and definitely a lot wiser. It took me a while to learn my lessons, but they were valuable lessons which have brought me to this point. Because of these experiences, these stories, they give me a better understanding and empathy for others. I have a deeper appreciation of people's circumstances. They've also increased my level of compassion, awareness and my fascination of other people's stories. They've influenced and improved my ability to tell the stories of others without judgement.
What about you? What story or stories are you not sharing that could benefit others? Because it is our own stories of uniqueness that help us determine what it is that we do differently or bring to our businesses, and who we will attract. And remember that you have many different stories. You don't have to share a 'how it all started' story. You don't even have to feel that you need to have 'completed' your story. You can still be in the middle of a story and be able to share it.
This week, take the time to sit down and start 'a' story--any story. You don't have to share it with anyone, but just observe what comes up for you and what you write down and then look for a thread that either relates to your business or what may relate to your customers. You'll be surprised at what you'll discover.
Have a great week!
Kerry :) x