Everyone has a story. Or rather everyone has the capacity to create an engaging, compelling story that connects their personal journey to the journey of others. Finding meaning in what we choose to remember (our “peak moments”), and what we choose to share with others, allows us to be in control of our own success stories. Even organizations rely on a strategic narrative that convinces people to embrace the values of that community– it is not just what you do but, more importantly, who you are!
In developing a compelling, yet truthful, narrative, people must decide what it is they want to share and why it might be important for others to hear or understand these particular points. Sometimes your narrative might be a way of introducing yourself to others, making connections that align with a collective or universal experience, disclosing life experiences that have helped define who you are today, or finally, sharing those values that drive what you do and where you want to go. Regardless of your intent, an engaging narrative relies on knowing your purpose, your audience, and your willingness to share your personal story with others.
The interesting thing about your personal narrative is that it is always evolving since it is constantly influenced by your environment, experiences, hopes, and dreams. Because a narrative is only a section of life lifted out of a continuous cycle of new opportunities, new challenges, and new people, you have an opportunity to shape your narrative as you grow and learn. At St. Margaret’s, we nurture and support each girl on her unique journey towards personal success. I like to tell the girls that your life story should be written in chalk not ink. With a growth mindset, a failure becomes an opportunity to grow in both confidence and competence, and any obstacles overcome along the way just make your story a more interesting read. “Chapters” which demonstrate perseverance, grit, and strength in character are always memorable and inspiring. Helping our girls recognize the importance of celebrating points along the journey just as much as they celebrate reaching the destination will provide them with great joy and a sense of achievement that is more empowering over time.
As an organization, we recognize the importance of our collective narrative: it defines our past, where we are today, and where we are headed. At St. Margaret’s we are all engaged in writing a story that is concise but comprehensive, specific but not set in stone, a story that defines our vision and mission, communicates strategy, and embodies our culture. Our narrative also identifies the services we provide and the relationships we value. It explains why we exist and what make us unique.
Regardless of whether you are creating a personal or strategic narrative, it is the authenticity of the underlying emotion contained within that story that will connect with people, allowing for the creation of a shared purpose and genuine reciprocity. If you can provide a compelling story that energizes, inspires, and excites people, then a community of believers and supporters will surround you.
“As human beings, we are all not conducting just one narrative but rather
many narratives all at the same time.”
“Your first great strength is your strength of choice.”
Start with Why. Simon Sinek. 2011
Illuminate: Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols. Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez. 2016