Why the story you tell yourself matters. A lot.

Have you ever told someone that you’re not good at something? Was it based on the fact you’re genuinely poor in that area (as in, you’re tone deaf, so singing isn’t for you!), or is it based on the story you’ve been telling yourself for a while? These stories we tell ourselves can be just as important as the stories we craft for our businesses, yet they seem to get a lot less time and energy spent of them. Let me explain why the story you tell yourself matters.

Why it matters – let’s look at it from a business point of view

When you think about your business and its PR, marketing and social media – and its video content – you’re adding to its story. Or, at least, you should be. If you make a truly superb product that’s unique and innovative, you’ll want your story to show this. You’ll blog about its features, film people talking about it, post pics of it looking gorgeous. You wouldn’t focus on the weaker points and have these at the core of your product. Would you? I hope not. To really illustrate the point, I’m going to come up with the example of a flying car. The car is amazing. You can drive it, you can fly it, it’s affordable, it doesn’t drink fuel. Get the idea. So, if you were marketing this product, would you say ‘it’s a great car, but its cup holders are a bit rubbish’ and then post a pic of its rubbish cup holders on Instagram? If you would, you need a slap. But do you see what I mean? Maybe the cup holders need a bit of improvement, I don’t know, I haven’t really explored every aspect of the flying car as yet, but if you focus on a weaker area, you know what’s going to happen? You’ll think the flying car is naff because of its small cup holders. Which, actually, only really impact you if you have supersize drinks from a drive thru. And you have a flying car- WHY ARE YOU GOING TO A DRIVE THRU? This will become the story you tell yourself and your customers about the amazing FLYING car. Sometimes our weaknesses, or our perceived weaknesses, becoming a big part of our story. And where do these come from? Are you comparing yourself to someone else? Maybe who’s on stage five of their journey when you’re at the start? Maybe the cup holders are fine – they’re just not as big as in a different car?

My ‘story’ was about the phone

So, let’s move this on. I had a belief that I wasn’t good on the phone. It impacted the way I thought about myself, my business, and how I spoke to people. I mean, a PR and marketing consultant and business coach who is rubbish on the phone? Seriously? Someone who wants to help people but hates the phone. I told myself I was rubbish on the phone. And I believed it. Then someone pulled me up on it. They asked a) why I thought I was rubbish on the phone b) what evidence I had to back this up and c) whether I was missing the big picture a little. And I’m going to tell you what I discovered. I’m not bad on the phone. Actually, I’m pretty good on the phone, and I’m even better on Skype/Facetime. There was no evidence to back up my thoughts and I was missing the big picture on every level. Do you know why I thought I was bad on the phone? Because I hated dealing with most of the calls I had, because I felt that they wasted my time, I had to say the same thing, and it interrupted whatever I was doing. I don’t like being put on the spot and being pressured and a lot of the calls I dealt with had both of these traits. So, was I bad on the phone, or didn’t I like dealing with the people who communicated with me through the phone? Yep. It was the latter. And was justified. But the phone (and my abilities on the phone) took the force of my thoughts. And this reflected on how I viewed some of the things I do. It gave me the chance to beat myself up for something that, actually, I had no need to. I told myself I was rubbish on the phone and each time is rang and I didn’t want to answer it, it reinforced it. See what I mean? I put together a video about this here. 

My challenge for you

So, here’s a challenge- if you choose to accept it – have a think about the story you tell yourself. Next time you think that you’re not good at something, just have a think why. We should all be looking to improve ourselves and be better, of course we should, but telling ourselves we are rubbish to start with isn’t the way to do this.

This is a theme that appears in quite a few of the coaching sessions I do with my clients (find out more here), and it’s amazing that when we have a look at these beliefs and the ‘supporting evidence’ how we can rationalise and then push on with a whole lot of other things.

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