Are you thinking about writing a book? Do you want media coverage to grow your business?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or both of those questions, you need to share stories – including your own. Humans are curious creatures: We want to be uplifted, inspired, moved, or amused. And we love stories. The media also loves stories. So you gotta share stories!
But if you feel a compulsion to share your own journey and experiences, it’s important to consider the reasons for doing this.
Comedian and speaker Judy Carter, author of The Comedy Bible and The Message of You
(both excellent books and I highly recommend them), sent out an email about this very topic this week – and it hit home with me.
Although I’m the co-author and/or editor of three books including two anthologies of people sharing their stories, I’ve only shared small parts of my own journey in them – the parts that were relevant to the particular books’ themes. Yet, I’ve felt for some time that I have a ‘book in me’ that requires me to share more.
I haven’t (yet) taken steps to move forward with it because it’s still percolating, but also because I need to be clear on my motives for writing it. And so do you when you’re sharing your stories with the world.
Judy nailed it when she said this:
When the motivation for telling the story of your life is because YOU think it’s interesting – you’re only telling it because of your own need for attention, approval, and laughs. You become a TAKER. When the goal of your story is to provide the troubled listener with a message of hope, you become a GIVER.”
This is big.
As a former performer desperate for the spotlight and as a journalist who’s basked in the significance that came with certain editorial positions, I know the pitfalls of succumbing to ‘Look at me, look at me’ syndrome. While the attention and approval may give you a temporary ‘high’ (like a drug hit), it’s unsustainable in the long term.
When we’re too busy seeking significance, we unconsciously push people away from us because who wants to be around someone who’s needy, insecure and arrogant? (Not a good mix!). So our relationships with others suffer and we lose connection.
And it’s plain exhausting too. Because nothing we ever do will be good enough, so pretty much after we enjoy our temporary ‘high’ we’re plunged back into insecurity and on the lookout for the next ‘fix’ of approval.
The good news is that when we change our focus and become instead a giver of significance, listening to others’ needs and responding to them with a solution, we get significance – in a much healthier and sustainable way.
When you’re sharing stories that inspire, motivate or solve a problem for others, they will love you. The delicious irony is that by putting your attention on them, you’ll get the applause, the laughs, additional gigs and a community of raving fans. It’s a cool angle on the whole ‘give and you’ll receive’ vibe.
So, when you’re crafting your stories for the media, or for a talk, or for your book, or your blog: Pause, examine your motives and make sure you’re coming from a place of serving others, not your ego.