The most important story

Storytelling is such a big part of marketing.

Telling the real stories of our business can get attention, build trust and boost sales. When people know more about what we do, they are more likely to want our services and products. They’re also more likely to commend us to their friends, family and anyone who will listen.

So we spend our time and money on communicating in the most effective way we can. We pay close attention to every part of the stories we tell others to make sure they are working for us, not against us.

But it’s possible that the one story we’re not paying attention to is the one that could really skyrocket our business success or do the opposite – undo it all.

It’s the story we tell ourselves.

WHAT STORY ARE YOU TELLING YOURSELF?

We constantly tell ourselves stories about the work we are doing and what we deserve to achieve.

We may not be aware of our self-story until we pay attention to all the ways we’re telling it. And as soon as we do, we get the power to change it. So lean in and pay close attention to the things that matter…

Pay attention to the voice in your head that criticises you for mistakes or missteps.  Retrain it to focus on hard evidence and ways to improve instead of generalisations. Turn ‘I really messed up in that client meeting’ into ‘I didn’t have the right figures to back up my main points but I know where to get them for next time.’

Pay attention to the way you describe yourself to others. I had to stop a business owner recently when he told me, ‘We think we are the best bookkeeping service in the city.’ I advised him to ditch, ‘We think’. Either you are the best or you’re not. If you say we think, it puts doubt in the client’s mind and also in yours. And if you’re not the best but you want to be, get to it!

Pay attention to the goals you have for your business. Are they too small? It’s fine to have short-term goals that you know how to reach, but it’s also important to have big, bold goals that you don’t know how to achieve – yet. Your story can only be as big as you write it.

WHAT STORY DO YOU WANT OTHERS TO TELL?

Sure, the story they’ll tell about you is ultimately up to them. But they will be influenced in a big way by the story you tell yourself. It comes through in everything you do, and it will shine if you are telling yourself only what you want others to say.

So rewrite your self-story to fit who you want to be and where you want to go. Dump the qualifying words and phrases like ‘I hope’, ‘I think’, ‘My goal is’, ‘I want’ and ‘I will’. Put your success story in the here and now by using active words, ‘I am’ and ‘I have’.  Write down your new self-story and add images, colours, textures to make it part of your everyday life, both inner and outer. Don’t be afraid to change your self-story as often as you need to but always make sure that you are in control of it so that it’s working for you. Be bold – choose to be who you truly can be.

I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary

Elon Musk, PayPal Founder

(A version of this article first appeared on HerBusiness blog)

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