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The Leadership Story You Are Living

Three idons are in a row: Moses' staff, Odysseus' Greek helmet, and Arjuna's bow and quiver of arrows representing classic leadership stories

Some of the great stories are really leadership stories. Moses in the Hebrew scriptures is one. Odysseus returning home from the Trojan War is another. Arjuna on the battlefield in the Gita is yet another. These stories are epic, but they made me think about what makes a good story.

Relatable characters. Surprising plot twists. Exciting action. Weighty issues.

These are some of the elements, and then I started asking myself some questions. Why are some stories more inviting than others? Why do some stay with me, make a deeper impression, even cause me to re-watch or repeat them?

The Story You Want to Enjoy

Some stories are clearly fantasies and they entertain us. We watch or read or listen to them to escape and to try on the impossible. “What if…?” we ask ourselves.

Other stories are closer to real life and they engage us. We tune in to these to try on the possible, to explore alternatives or to enter a different experience than our current lives allow. We enjoy the experience of wondering, “What would it be like to…?

Take a Closer Look at Your Life

Have you considered that you are living out a story? What if a book were written or a movie made that used your life as the primary content?

If you dismiss that as a possibility, it’s probably because you haven’t taken a close enough look at your life and the story you’re living. There is a plot, there are characters, and everything is happening within different settings. You have all the elements of a story within your life without changing anything.

I would go further and say that some of the more compelling parts of your story are related to times when you exercised leadership. That is not the same as power, and it doesn’t even have to be a public expression of leadership. It might be when you faced a hard decision or you had to take a stand on a difficult issue.

You Can Do This Too

Can you see it yet? How would you tell your story?

When I started to write out the story of my life just before I turned 40, I had to really examine what were the key points of my own life and how I was going to tell the tale. I’ve gone back over the story and continued to add to it with each year. I’m also writing ahead in anticipation of what’s to come. I can’t guarantee it will happen the way I want, but it has totally shifted the way I think about my decisions and my unfolding story.

Your life is a story. How are you writing it?

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