There’s an old saying that we’ve all got a great book inside of us. We’ve all got a story inside of us, and every single one of us has got a story to tell. Maybe a story of where you grew up, where you came from, the thoughts and challenges that you have had in your life, the conversations that you have had, break down in relationships, poor health, whatever it might be. We’ve all got some incredibly powerful stories inside of us.
I was sharing some of my stories at an event in London, and a lot of them come from my younger days or from the police service, I just had a moment where I was thinking, how many stories have we got in just one room amongst all of us speakers? And then if we were to speak to members of the audience, how many stories would we hear from them? And if we listened to every single person’s story, what could we learn? How would that help us to grow? You see, we could look back at our lives and think I’ve had an awful life. I’ve had a life that has been difficult. I’ve had circumstances in my life that have been really challenging and painful. We could look back at our lives and say I’ve had missed opportunities. We could look back at our lives, and we could say to ourselves I regret so much. I missed so much. I could have done this, and I could have done that, or I have made bad mistakes. I’ve experienced failure.
Now if we stopped for moment and looked at all this from a place of love and gratitude, we could also say to ourselves, actually, I have learned so much in life. I’m so much wiser now because of the mistakes I made. I’m so much wiser now or so much stronger now, so much more courageous now because of the challenges that I’ve experienced in my life. It’s just a question of perception, really. It’s just a question of perspective. What’s your paradigm of life? You can either see your life as a roller coaster of mistakes, failures, and challenges or you could see your life full of blessings where you’ve continued to grow as a result of the experiences that you’ve had in your life.
One of the things that I found out from people in a private conversation is that they had so many powerful stories that they were willing to share with me on a one-to-one basis, but they felt that there was no way that they could ever share those stories in front of people. They thought people would judge them, or people would see them as weak, or people would find a chink in their armour. You see, one of the things that we do when we leave our houses every day is that we look in the mirror, and we look to see, “Am I dressed for the world to see me as they need to see me, as I want them to see me today?”
This veneer that we create, this mask that we create, what we are essentially saying is, “I only want the world to see me in a certain kind of way. I don’t want the world to see me with my warts and all, with all my chinks and with all my failures.” Essentially what we’re saying is, “I don’t want the world to see me as a human being. I want the world to see me in this label that they’ve proportioned to me, which they’ve created for me.” So as I was speaking at this particular event, as I was talking to people, as I was watching other speakers, I realized that your story is an incredible and powerful tool. It’s an incredibly powerful tool if we share it with other people, because it helps us to heal at the same time. If we’ve not shared that story before, then the mere fact that we’re sharing that story is in essence a kind of a healing process for us.
The human psyche works on stories as well. If ever you want to share some learning, some teaching with other people, a great way of doing it is by telling a story. So I told a story to these people that I was talking to at this particular event and I said, “Tell me what goes through your mind as I’m telling this story.” And they said, “Well, as you’re telling that story, I’m imagining that story.” That is basically what we do. When somebody tells us a story, what we do as the listeners of that story is we create this cinema screen inside our head, and we watch that story play out. We create those characters inside our head, and so we visually watch that story inside our head whilst the other person is narrating that story to us.
This is why story telling is so very important. It’s so very important if you’re a speaker on a stage, because it helps drive home that point you are trying to get out there. People get that point, and providing every story has a teaching point, a learning point that comes out of it, then it’s a valuable story. I know so many speakers who literally get on the stage, and they just tell a story. They tell a story about how bad life was, how circumstances were so poor, how they suffered so much. That for me is not a healthy share, because in essence what they’re doing by getting on the stage and sharing that story, they’re going through some sort of process of healing just for themselves. Now one of the key things we learn as speakers is it’s never about the speaker. It’s always about the people who are listening. Ego doesn’t play a part when you’re truly speaking from the heart. It is always about service to others.
So if you’re going to tell a story from the stage, then you should always tell that story with a key learning point so that people can resonate with it. But so many people hide their story. They hide their story under a bushel. They hide their story for all the reasons that I’ve already said for fear of judgment, for fear of being seen to be weak, for fear of ridicule or embarrassment or shame or whatever it might be. But I think vulnerability in itself is power. Sharing a story is about taking away burden from yourself, but it’s about adding value to other people by attaching to that story some learning point. This is what I try to do every time I get on a stage and this is what a lot of the other speakers also do.
Every single one of us will have a story. You will have your own moments of torment. You will have your own moments of despair, pain or challenges in your life. You will have moments in your life that you could share with me right now that would make me raise my eyebrows, or my heart will go out to you. That is your pain and by you telling me that, you’re bringing me into your story. Your story is incredibly powerful. Don’t hide it under a bushel. We have the ability to change the world around us. We have the ability to impact on other people. There’s a scale that we cannot even envisage. They say that we are seven connections removed from the rest of the world.
If that truly is the case, then if we were to share that story, a meaningful story with some real value at the end of it, we could truly change the world. I have this mission statement in my own mind that sounds cheesy to others but means an awful lot to me, that I want to change the world through the transformation of how people think. I think if we collectively started sharing our stories and actually started attaching some element of learning and value to them, then people could then take away those points that could go on to improve their lives.
Imagine how we could impact on the world as it is right now. Imagine the growth of the mindset of the people in the world. Imagine a world where people are much more enlightened, much more empowered, thinking much more positive, in a constructive kind of way and in a much more tolerant kind of way. We would probably have fewer wars. We would probably have less poverty. We would probably have much more understanding. We would definitely have an increase in love, and love is the greatest power that we all have, that the world has. I’m not talking about that romantic soppy kind of love. I’m talking about this deep compassionate love for human beings and for the world as it is right now. It all comes from that story. So the point I make to you is you can choose to allow your story to bog you down, hold you back, make you hide yourself away for fear of shame, embarrassment, guilt, whatever it might be, or you could rise up and share that story in such a powerful way that others will learn from that story.
You have an incredible power inside of you right now that will allow you to change lives. The question is, will you step forward and use that power? The choice is yours.