I grew up on the Lower East Side of NYC and attended the local elementary and junior high school. All my classmates were basically of the same background: poor and had parents who never had an education. A good number of us went onto to productive lives, went to college, got jobs, raised families, etc. A few, unfortunately, went to prison. There were no common denominators that decided who would “succeed” or “fail”. What was different? Unknown to us, we were each protagonists living our individual stories. Many of our stories had similar hardships and events but our reactions and attitudes led to different paths and outcomes. Some of us "stayed clean", studied and worked our way out. Others dropped out of school, turned to drugs, crime, and wrote a much different story.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. We can’t control the beginning (our birth and background) and the past is the past – as Rafiki said to Simba in the “The Lion King”: “You can either run from it, or... learn from it”. What we do have the power is to decide what the rest of the story will be and work to make it so. "Live in regret or longing for the past, or in a constant state of trying to protect yourself from future misfortune, you will miss the real and potentially amazing opportunities that are staring you right in the face, in the now" - (quote writer unknown).
There are 3 basic steps to writing your story:
1. Purpose – Decide on the purpose of your story, your reason for being*. You might refer to this as your mission statement.
2. Reflect – review your current story. Is it going the way that you want to achieve the “ending” that you want? Does your current story appear misaligned with what you want, e.g. you want to be there as your children grow up but yet you are neglecting your diet and health. Are you being consistent in your story? You can’t have your purpose as being a benevolent leader if you decide that you can be nice to some people and not others.
3. Rewrite – visualize and write down what your story will be. Create the new storyboard; take the steps needed to change the story to go in the direction that you want.
When you change your story, you change your life. Be bold; make it a great story!
*Note: Your purpose should not be “to be CEO of this division”, “to have a 6 figure salary “. You can, but it would be a very poor story. To quote Victor Frankl: "Again and again, I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: Don't aim at success - the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run - in the long-run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it."