Telling your own story.

Are you someone that wears many hats? How do you explain that to others?

James Aviaz wrote a post last week about Australians’ struggle in New York to define themselves.

Being able to articulate your skills and the value you bring is critical to getting what you want.

In many ways all of us are Jack-Of-All-Trades. Our own unique recipe of environment, personality and life experience means in reality we have, and continue to, wear a lot of hats, both professionally and personally. ‘Experts’ know how to package it all up to make every moment (and trade) seem entirely relevant. Which it is.

James’ right though, many of us don’t feel comfortable bragging about our ‘specialness,’ let alone recognize it.

Learning to weave together seemingly distinct parts of your experience is important for two reasons:

Firstly, for you.

Making sense of all of your experience, weaving together common threads, is a great exercise in self-awareness. How did you get to where you are today? You may see your life like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but there are guaranteed to be some epic footnotes.

Then, for others.

When you create a story it means other people will be able to start telling it on your behalf.  We often talk about building advocacy in relations to brands and organizations, but what about building advocacy, or at least a picture of sense, around you?

In a interview with NY Brand Lab RadioHBR contributor Dorey Clark talked about the need to help people make sense of your experience.

People tell themselves stories of other people, explanatory advice enables people to put us in boxes. We need to recognise that and we need to run with it…Develop an outside perspective. You are probably sitting on huge chunks of expertise you think is disparate, but it’s not.

How does what you are doing now – because you were first a pizza-maker then a banker  – make you far better today than other people doing the same thing? Is the story compelling enough to be repeated by someone that isn’t you?

If people don’t know what you are doing or how to tell your story then you are vulnerable to others deciding for you. That pigeon-hole Aviaz describes, will be of their choosing, not yours.

Don’t wait. Instead of spending the next 9,000 hours practicing violin till you become an expert in the symphony orchestra, sharpen your pencil and take stock of what is looking back at you in the mirror up to this point.

Buster Benson posted a challenge today to ‘make a list of things (big, small, obvious and crazy) that I believe in, as of today‘; it’s one way to start this process of connecting all your dots.

On a deeper personal level, developing your own narrative will help you shape your life.

One of my favorite posts from last week was ‘The Story of Your Life as a Work of Art‘, a guest post by R.E.F Riskin on Venessa Miemis blog:

‘Have a narrative for every discipline you care about, every person that you care about, every part of your body, every part of yourself, every idea you bring into this world, imagine the world as it would be without your presence, then imagine if you had infinite love and finite time.’

Being here in the city of big dreams I can see now, more than ever, how defining yourself through your merits shouldn’t be viewed as egotistical or game-playing but as a necessary way of setting the scene so both parties can work together as best as possible.

Help yourself by learning how to tell your own story well.