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Why a Leader Should Write their Own Story

If you’re famous enough, someone is going to write an article or a book about you. Even if you’re not famous, someone might write a short story about you called an obituary. I’m not a famous person. But here’s why I write my own story and why every leader should write their own story too.

First, it’s already being written

Your story is already written. It’s not necessarily finished, but it’s in progress.

Just do a Google search on your name.  Go ahead, just do it. Click on the first few links that come up. That’s the current story about you. 

Do you like the results? When I did this exercise, I realized that the message I most care about and the ways I want to add value aren’t getting the focus. I need to do something about this.

If you’re going to be in public or on camera, give a little thought to what message is getting out and how you want it shared.   

I do care how I’m remembered. I would like it to be for something I said or did that made people think. I want people to be clear about their own purpose in life.

Who Else is There?

Is there anyone else who can tell your story better than you?

I look around and I don’t see anyone else who has been around for all of my significant life events. My parents were there for the early years. They have a very good recall of my early life.

My wife has been a witness to my last thirty or so years. It spans most of my adult life. She can certainly tell stories. But in some ways, that’s putting a burden on her. Afterall, she has her own story to tell.  

Personal branding or self authoring?

I recently saw a video by Chris Do talking about personal branding. He asked if I saw personal branding as a way to sell more stuff. (Maybe. A little). He doesn’t. 

Chris sees his personal brand reminding him who he is supposed to be in this life. 

I like that. If I can be more fully just who I am and show up with integrity and authenticity and call that my personal brand, I’m down for that. 

If I get to write the story of my own life as I’m living it, that’s self authoring. It puts me in the driver’s seat. 

I Want to Meet this Stranger

The details of my own life are familiar to me, but by themselves they aren’t a story. Most obituaries don’t make highly interesting reading. That’s not the fault of the deceased person or the writer. It’s more a matter of the consequences: there’s not a lot of time, and the obituary writer doesn’t have a lot of material to work with. 

I have a little time, and I have a lot of material to work on. I’m eager to meet this character who will emerge from my own life story. I also want to get a little ahead of things. I hope to write the script before the action happens.

If I write my own life story, I can do it twice. First, I get to dream the story and then I get to live out the dream.

Stephen Covey talked about this in his classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit two says “begin with the end in mind.” You create things first mentally then you create them in physical reality.

Leaders Own Their Story

Others can take a crack at writing my story, but only I get to author it first in my mind and then in real life. To own my story means I’m fully living it. When I’m gone, I hope my story is interesting enough to help others want to write their own life story.

If you want to get started writing your own story, our ebook The Year Ahead helps you get started doing that. If you see value in working with a coach to start and continue this conversation on a regular basis, get in touch about a coaching engagement that works for you. 

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