I spend a lot of time trying to convince the people I work with that they have inspiring story to share. When asked about inspiring storytellers, many think immediately of Oprah Winfrey. But you don’t have to be Oprah to elevate your passion and purpose. She might have a very loud megaphone, but you’ve got authenticity, experience, and passion on your side. These are important qualities that you should not sell short. So, if you're reading this, I'm going to go ahead and give you a friendly little push; you're more than ready to tell your story. Use your authenticity, experience, and passion!
I’ve worked with several leaders who are driven to fix a nagging problem in the social sector. Often, they take this passion and turn it into something impressive: a promising project, the beginnings of a nonprofit, or even a small business. Despite those accomplishments, they are incredulous that anyone would care about their personal story. Instead, their communications focus on every detail of the nonprofit/project/business itself. But guess what? Yes, people will probably think the nonprofit/project/business is cool. But they don’t really connect with it until they understand the story behind it – the "why" behind the leader and her purpose. The "why" gives your mission authenticity. Maybe you're a badass mom, or you found your passion as a grad student, or learned about leadership through athletics. It's the story behind your story that will feel true and inspire others to care about your purpose.
I hear a lot of leaders who hesitate to get personal in their storytelling because they worry their experience isn’t “enough” to stand on a soapbox and share. They fear speaking up because they worry they are not truly an "expert" on their topic. We live in a world where an “expert” is sometimes viewed as someone with decades of study under the belt. Anyone with less ends up feeling like a fraud. This is a manifestation of the imposter syndrome, and it’s one that really hinders a lot of people’s personal and professional growth. Though you may lack decades of academic learning on a topic, that doesn’t negate your experience with that issue. In fact, in the case of storytelling, experience is more valuable than study alone. It’s your experience that will inform your story, dress it with details, and ensure it authentically resonates with your audience. So snap out of that imposter mentality: your experience matters.
This is the secret weapon of the purpose-driven leader. Authenticity and experience are critical – but they appeal to the head, not the heart. It’s your passion that adds spice to your story. It’s your passion that drives people to listen avidly, get inspired, and share what they’ve heard with other people. And passion isn’t something you can fake. People want to feel that passion too because it’s contagious.
Don’t sell yourself short, purposeful people! Your authenticity, experience, and passion are all the reason you need to share your story and inspire others.
Need some more convincing? Read 3 Reasons Your Story is Worth Sharing.