What’s Your Story? – Bringing a school assembly, roads and recycling together…

They say everyone has a book in them. I wonder what the book in you is? During this national story telling week, perhaps it’s worth thinking about your story – what you tell the world about your journey, purpose and passion. It might be a surprise!

You story might be to help get a job, create a business, refocus your life, or make sense of your past.

The ‘stupid’ question that creates a whole new business

One person I admire is Toby McCartney. He runs NLP training business, and was confronted with a key, life changing question.

“I remember attending my little girl’s school assembly. The kids were asked the question ‘What lives in the ocean?’ When my little girl was asked she said ‘plastic, miss’,” McCartney remembers. When he was in India he saw locals filling potholes with landfill plastic, and setting them alight with diesel so that it melted and filled the hole.

“That’s brilliant – that’s what we should do in Dumfries and Galloway.’ But it turned out that the council kind of frowned upon lighting things up in potholes,” he said, except that we needed to do things more robustly in Europe. 

With that he brought a number of experts together and now runs a business creating plastic roads, to help recycle plastic and make more durable roads.

See his story at the ted talk below:

What is your story for?

We each have a story. It frames our past, describes our present, and sets the future. At worst it can constrict our future. Typically our story is in three acts:

  1. Our past (act one)
  2. Our challenge (act two)
  3. Our direction (act three)

For someone feeling negative they might have “I failed at school (1), I keep getting rejected by jobs (2), and I’ll always be a loser (3)”

Instead you can give a different, and also truthful story: “I have been trying for many jobs, but that has given me resilience and understanding of where to improve, so that I now have the skills and strength will get me the job I desire”

Perhaps it’s a story others want to believe in you “she’s never going to amount to anything.”, “He’s a heartless so and so”. But when you look at your story it might well be different. “He broke out of the ghetto, when everyone was pulling him down”. “She messed up, and being the steely exterior, she had compassion and love, but it took 

  • What is the story you tell about your life?
  • What direction is it setting for you … with the risk (or benefit) that you will live that out?
  • What’s a healthy, truthful story for you to develop?

There are 7 typical plot types in stories, and each of us can choose how we want to describe our story. When I talk to people looking for jobs, whatever their background or situation, they can either wallow in it, learn from it, or benefit from it. Most of us have had a significant challenge in our lives (mistakes we’ve made, or situations we’ve suffered), so you biggest question is what direction, or third act, will you take.

For me, it might be “I was working in the rat race earning well but not happy at work and at home. I created a crisis that affected too many people. I found it difficult to express my remorse and sorrow at the time but that sparked a level of learning and growth that has given me a desire to help others meet their passion and purpose before they hit a crisis.”

How about having a go, and write down your three sentence story.


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