Owning Your Success Story: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Empowerment

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In the realm of personal and professional growth, there is a profound connection between the narrative we construct about our lives and our levels of resilience. The power of transforming from an actor to an author in our life story is a game-changer. This allows us to make confident choices and navigate through challenges with grit, determination and tenacity. Every now and again, it’s useful to take stock and think about how we can sustain our sparkle and own our success story.

As the year kicks off, it’s essential to take stock, reflect and craft a narrative that fuels our motivation and focus. As a seasoned coach, I regularly see the struggles people face as they navigate the complexities of work and life heading into a new year. The conversations I encounter often revolve around self-care and the stories individuals tell themselves, stories that can either lift us up or drag us down. It’s so important to understand what your story is and how you share that with the world.

Your next chapter

A powerful mindset tool I like to use is to view life as a series of chapters. Research suggests that our personal resilience and our ability to handle stress is deeply intertwined with the narrative we construct around our experiences. Redemption stories, where individuals transform adversity into a learning experience, have a profound impact on mental health and decision-making. When people apply a ‘chapter’ approach to the story of their life, it keeps them optimistic about the future which can lead to better mental health outcomes and healthier behaviours.

So, if you’ve had a busy life in the last couple of years, then being able to have that next chapter clear in your mind can help you to consider your next step. Interestingly, I think when people change jobs they typically refresh their CVs and go through the interview process, which is also a chance to revise and update your chapter. So, for anyone who’s been in the same role for a while, it’s worth taking a moment to appraise the most recent chapter in your working and personal life. Consider your adversities or challenges and what you learnt. A review tool I love to use is writing down my wins, walls (or blockers) and wisdom (the insights you gleaned from a particular project, experience or chapter). It’s incredibly useful to see it written down in black and white to help inform next steps or new goals.

One striking example involves individuals in Alcoholics Anonymous writing about their last drink. Those who approached it as a pivotal moment in their personal narrative were twice as likely to stick to their intentions compared to those who presented a factual account. No matter what you’ve been doing, having a redemption story enables you to reframe behaviour so you ‘used to be like this’, but now you’re ‘moving forward in this other way’. The notion of the flawed hero’s story emerges as a powerful force, transforming individuals from mere actors to authors of their lives.

There’s also a fascinating link between neuroscience, resilience and storytelling. Research suggests that the ability to adopt a narrative approach to our lives becomes more pronounced around the age of 15 This shift from a series of events to a coherent story empowers individuals to move beyond victim mentality, fostering resilience and a positive outlook.

I often emphasise with my clients the importance of understanding your own personal story, especially during coaching where pivotal moments become catalysts for change. The process involves exploring lessons learned, identifying personal values and creating a narrative that sets the stage for future goals. This introspection is not about dwelling on the past but about understanding its impact on the present and future.

Acknowledge and value yourself

It’s also incredibly important to acknowledge and value yourself. Often, people find it challenging to look in the mirror and confront their own narratives, but this self-awareness is crucial for personal growth. The ability to pause, reflect and choose the narrative that aligns with your own personal values and goals is a transformative journey.

A great exercise to try is to write a statement at the top of a page: ‘Who I am is how I lead, and how I lead is who I am’. Then write freely for seven to 15 minutes, capturing your thoughts about this statement. This exercise aims to uncover core values that shape an individual’s leadership style. You can also replace the word ‘lead’ with ‘manage’ or ‘live’.

By identifying at least five core values creates a foundation for crafting a personal leadership statement. Articulate your leadership identity, incorporating key words and core values. Then share this statement with someone else, who can provide acknowledgment and feedback to complete the exercise. Then when somebody asks you to ‘tell them who you are’ you can instantly access this self-knowledge based on what you’ve already written.

The power of this exercise in uncovering the golden threads of your life story. It enables individuals to recognise their genuine energy, purpose and the invisible handcuffs that may have constrained them. It’s not only a tool for personal introspection but also a valuable team-building activity. It fosters trust and empowers team members to share and acknowledge each other’s narratives.

Owning your success story is an empowering journey of self-discovery and resilience. By becoming authors of our lives, we shape narratives that propel us forward, transform challenges into opportunities and sustain the sparkle within us.

Written By Debbie Green

Debbie Green is founder and wellness coach at Wishfish and co-host of Secrets from A Coach podcast. For more information visit: wishfish.org.uk and secretsfromacoach.com

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