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The most important story you tell about yourself is the story you tell yourself.

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This is very similar to one of my other favorite quotes by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can’t or think you can, you’re right.”

I include this one because it specifically references the power of story, which is actually the title of Sports Psychologist Jim Loehr’s book (The Power of Story).

Always remember, people would rather hear a story than a fact.  Don’t believe me?  Walk around a bookstore and see how much shelf-space is devoted to fiction verses non-fiction.  How many of the top-grossing movies this year will be documentaries?

In Business:

What’s the story of your business?  It can be the most important relationship-building tool for your customers and the most important motivational tool for yourself.

A powerful business story usually involves a goal larger than you.  In the nineties, and based partly on the success of the movie Jerry Maguire, mission statements became a popular way of defining a business’ core principles and values.

What does your business stand for and what ultimate outcome would you like your business to achieve for your customers or clients?  Weave the answers into a short, compelling story and you’re off to a great start.

If you ever watched The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, you probably remember the human-interest stories done by correspondent Charles Kuralt.  He called his segment On The Road, and he travelled the country in his Winnebago, looking for interesting people.

In the late sixties, one person he encountered in his travels worked at NASA.  He was a janitor there, and he kept his section absolutely spotless.

When Kuralt asked him, “What’s your job here at NASA?” he replied without missing a beat, “My job is to put a man on the moon.”

That’s the power of the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.

In Life:

Always be on the lookout for self-limiting stories rattling around in your head, because those tend to be the ones we playback the most.  What’s the telltale sign of a self-limiting story?  It’s usually one that keeps you from taking action.

Also, just because a story was true once doesn’t mean it’s still true today.  Years ago, you may have tried and failed at something due to a legitimate obstacle in your way, but that may not be the case today.

Zig Ziglar used to talk about seeing a huge elephant behind the scenes at the circus.  A flimsy piece of rope tied around his leg and fastened to a small, wooden stake was all that kept him from wandering off.  He asked the trainer, “How can that little piece of rope hold that big elephant?”

The trainer explained, “When he was a baby we used a big chain, and he tried to pull away but couldn’t.  Now, just the rope is enough because he doesn’t try anymore.”

Chains may have held you back earlier in your life, but they might be flimsy pieces of rope now.  Take some time to re-examine the stories you tell yourself about yourself and prepare to be surprised!

So remember…

The most important story you tell about yourself is the story you tell yourself.

– Jim Loehr

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