Telling your story in business is a current trend in growing your leadership and your brand. Instead of using outdated selling techniques, storytelling addresses the "why" and "what" to draw people in.
Your story is evidence of your expertise in a certain area, it helps you connect with your audience, it inspires, motivates and attracts clients to you and your story can make you money.
In my Executive and Leadership coaching business I use stories all the time - it is just what I have always done; it is my style and over the years I have noticed how it makes my business more interesting and relatable. It is a very authentic way for me to teach and coach.
I have stories from the "a-ha moment" when I knew what I wanted to do with my life, how I opened my business and grew it, balancing business with family, speaking in front of 1000 people, to the story of being devastated and having what I call my "Eat, Pray, Love " moment of breaking down on the bathroom floor. I have stories of winning in business and in life and stories of adventure travelling the continents.
The common link to all of these stories is moving from fear to courage, going outside my comfort zone, conflict resolution and having to step up to a better version of me.
The key to story telling in business is they have to have a purpose; they have to be relatable and relevant. My stories bring into focus times where I experienced similar emotions to those my clients or audience face in stepping up to the best version of themselves without changing their values or the essence of who they are. Stories can accentuate the best of who we are to allow us to make the impact we desire.
Here is my latest story called "Getting Our Groove Back" being released this week in "© Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive 2015".
You can't always wait for the perfect time; sometimes you must dare to jump.
In retrospect, our "big decision" probably took about three years to make. It was a crazy three years in which we gave birth to our second child, Hannah, and two years later our baby boy, Charlie. As much joy and happiness as this brought to our lives, we also faced some of our most devastating times--two of our parents passed away. As Charles Dickens said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...".
Life was a Yoyo--only we were not simply plastic on strings but people. It wasn't until this crazy journey came to an end that I looked back and saw it for what it was. In many ways, we were living like so many others I was a mother of three at home, working part-time from home. I owned my own executive coaching business and was finishing my certification course, often at night. With my coaching business being international, I was often on calls in the evening or early morning--which suited me as it did not take time from my children. My husband enjoyed his work, although he was getting a bit tired of his role and feeling restless, looking for more. To make up for the lack of stimulation at work, he studied for his MBA. He also travelled internationally for his job, anywhere from Chile to South Africa, Tucson to Perth, which took him away approximately 120 days a year.
During the night, we had young babies still waking. And during the day, we did fun child-oriented activities like swimming lessons and dance classes. We visited shopping centers, had health check ups--all the things you do with three little ones, five and under. Weekends often included travelling to visit family and friends, or they visited us. We spent time watching our eldest, Jackson, in his junior lifesaving club, Nippers, or in his local soccer competition. You could say we were happily living in the chaotic rat race.
When I was up with the children at night I would often wonder, "With so much business, noise and life swirling around, how will we focus on what is important?" It was time to hop off the hamster wheel. We needed to take action towards our own long-term happiness. Because as good as this was, it wasn't great. No one should live outside greatness.
The first step was to stop thinking about what we did not want and start thinking about what we did want. We wanted more family time, more work-life balance, and to live an inspired life. We wanted to have many fun, loving and positively memorable adventures with family and friends. We wanted the kids to have experiences that would make them say, "We had an awesome upbringing."
We wanted to truly love what we did for work. I wanted time to focus on my relationship with my husband; I wanted to be a role model for my kids. Less time in the shopping center and more time making memories. I did not want to sit on the sidelines and watch; I wanted to join in. I wanted to give back to society. I wanted to be able to relax and have fun and laugh, every day. I wanted to explore the balance of living life to the fullest and still have time to stop and smell the roses.
That's when it came, it was like an itch--big decision time. My husband started applying for jobs overseas. We had lived overseas before and knew we loved the adventure, but we were torn because we'd have to leave our families, friends and stability. That would be a lot for a young family.
Part of our decision was karma or fate, call it what you will. My husband saw the perfect job online. While speaking to the hiring manager in Canada, he was told, "We are located in a small mountain town. You would never have heard of it." Except that my husband ski-bummed in that town for two years before we met--only leaving because of the lack of work in his field. He had always dreamed of going back there!
We believe in living our lives on purpose, and it was time to move forward into a new chapter. It was about creating less craziness, more work-life balance, less stress and more adventure and happy memories. It was time to pursue our passions and dreams. We had always believed in loving what you do and doing what you love. Reading the words on the paper make it sound easy but for us it was a massive and courageous decision to make.
I asked my eighty-two-year-old mother for advice. Even though she is elderly and would not see us as often, she replied with such clarity and wisdom. "You do not want to get to my stage of life and look back and wish you had done it."
We now live in that little ski resort town in Canada. My business is flourishing; my husband loves his job, and travels less. We have been back to Australia to visit our family and friends three times in three years. My mother came and stayed with us for two months; I speak to her regularly on the phone.
We've undergone a transformation. We move our bodies, our stress is low, and we've got our freedom and our balance. Now we have time to stop, breathe and feel grateful. In the summer, we travel and explore as much as possible. Every weekend during the winter our family skis together. We aren't getting benched from our own lives. Now, we live.
To hear more from Kate visit www.facebook.com/tradesecretsbusinessconsultants or www.tradesecretsconsultants.com
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