How Storytelling Can Change Your Life

A virtual toast to you from HQ on this fine Saturday evening.

It’s 8:15 pm.

You might be parked on your couch, inhaling a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Monkey, with Netflix mindlessly blaring in the background.

Drowning out the monotony.

Pushing the thought of another Monday morning as far out of sight and mind as possible.

Perhaps your inner monologue says… “tomorrow. Yeah. tomorrow is the day I get in gear and go for what I want.”

How many times has “tomorrow” ever shown up? You watch. You wait. You lie to yourself. Again.

Did you make today count? Did you really? I’m right here, and I’m watching you. Look over your shoulder.

Made you look.

So, why am I in the office on a Saturday night, typing furiously away on the keyboard?

I promised you we’d dive deeper into how you can harness the power of a great story to your advantage in all areas of your life.

Remember?

Well today is your lucky day, because I have another story for you. One that fell into my lap a few days ago. One that shows the power to change your life that a new story can bring.

STORYTELLING CHANGES EVERYTHING.

My friend Srinivas Rao let the cat out of the bag last week.

A huge turning point in his career as a blogger, author, speaker and entrepreneur. He notched a big win in his life. Life-changing big. Money. Authority. Internet fame. A bigger stage to play on.

Srinivas landed a major book deal with a big New York publishing house. Not just one book, but two. And they approached HIM.

Do you realize just how rare that is in the year 2015?  This is real, tangible success. This is what thousands, if not millions of us are gunning for.

Welcome to the big leagues.

You can check out a sample of his soon-to-be published book The Compass for free. I highly recommend it.

Except, the accolades, success and ego-stroking aren’t why he did it. Sure, those things are nice and nearly everyone has an ego they haven’t fully choked out of existence yet. Srini admitted to me (and his readers) that if it was all ego-driven for some ephemeral sense of fame and validation, he would have thrown in the towel years ago.

He did it in order to show AND tell a better story, with the hopes of lighting up possibilities for anyone who would listen dare to listen.

He’s got himself a mission.

A mission that resonates with a LOT of other people on the planet.

We’re not talking about some stroke of beginner’s luck, either. Oh no.  This guy is the personification of workhorse. Up at 5am putting in his 1000 words per day, in order to change his life. He gets stressed, he worries and he has more than his share sleepless nights. But he kept on working, even when there was no tangible “success” in his line of sight. Srini is one of the more successful online entrepreneurs and authors that I’ve “met” in the past few years, bar none.

I use the air quotes because I’ve only met him once in person, at a 3,000 person seminar last summer. The conversation lasted all of 45 seconds. It was painfully awkward (for me), as I gushed like a school girl about his best-selling book. I clamored on and on about his success, his ever-growing audience of devoted readers, and, of course, if he had any “tips” he could share with me.

Vomit, meet mouth.

I’m hoping Srini doesn’t even remember it.

Although when he reads this, I think that ship will have sailed.

I forgot what I said exactly, and it doesn’t matter. I shuffled away from the bar feeling defeated. This happens a lot when you put yourself out there. I still shudder about how much irrational confidence I am able to muster when I want to meet someone I admire in person.

Oh well. Now we’re friends. So maybe looking foolish actually works.

A Road to Nowhere

Srini’s story used to look quite different. In fact, his old “story” probably resembles what a lot of your are currently tolerating in your life right now.

Here are the “highlights” of Srini’s old story:

  • He comes from an Indian (India the country, not Native Americans) family with lofty expectations of traditional success. Very common among Indian households.
  • His sister is a successful doctor.
  • He attended Berkley, one of the top Universities in the country.
  • He floundered in various jobs and careers with some spectacular and noteworthy flameouts. (I like to tell myself that’s how we bonded.)
  • Just like me, he cashed in his chips and signed up for an expensive, look-great-on-paper MBA program. Running straight back into the Matrix of pathways trail-blazed by others.
  • Except, he decided to start using his setbacks and mis-steps as as fodder for his mill. His new story in progress. The one we see unfolding before us.

Notice what he did at first?

Somewhere along the way, he gave up on writing and telling his own story. He resigned himself to the “safe” path, of people pleasing, comfort and conformity. His own story was put on hiatus, as he handed over the proverbial pen and paper of his life to someone else. To everyone else.

I’m glad he found his way back.

Srini has been at it for over 5 years. Grinding away on his craft. Working, hustling, creating and playing in the online “arena.” He’d be the first to admit to you that he was the polar opposite of an overnight success.

He’s done all of the following in his 5 year quest:

  • Freelanced online to make ends meet.
  • Started from scratch one of the longest-running podcasts in the world, boasting over 500 archived episodes.
  • He’s gone broke (newsflash: every entrepreneur has).
  • He published a best-selling book on Amazon in 2013. Major media outlets interviewed him. Glenn Beck brought him on his nationally-syndicated show. He “arrived”…or so he thought.
  • Things began to crash around him the next year. He was on the edge of giving up.
  • He battled inner demons, but mustered the strength and courage to keep pushing forward. Inch by inch.
  • He kept at it. He kept creating. He kept writing. Kept interviewing other “Unmistakeable Creatives.” Stopped seeking external accolades to validate what he was doing.
  • And, last week he landed a two-book deal from a major U.S. publisher.

You know what pisses me off?

The guy is as humble as pumpkin pie.

It would be easier for me to stomach his success if he were an arrogant, aloof blowhard, as many people in the limelight seem to morph into. Then I could just brush it off and make some snide comment about the good guys never getting a shot.  My fantasyland of excuses and bitching would have remained intact. There goes that excuse, eh?

How did our friend Srini manage to persevere, with no visible signs of success in site, to eventually hit pay-dirt?

He chose to.

And so can you.

Even if your storytelling sucks right now. Even if you feel lost, alone and defeated. Even if you’re 100% convinced that your breakout moment will never come.

When you consciously get down to the business of storytelling, you’re back in control of the ship. Storytelling, followed definitive, imperfect action charts a new course. You can pencil in new and interesting characters, experiences and exciting phases of personal evolution.

A NEW STORY CAN SEND YOU TO THE MOON

There’s a not-so-funny secret that most entrepreneurs have had to face at one point or another.

We’ve all been inches from the brink. Within a few days (or hours) of giving up on ourselves. Being an entrepreneur can be scary business. We need to keep multiple changes of underwear on hand, for when the unexpected curveballs quite literally “scare the crap out of us.”

PERIPHERAL OPPONENTS

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame ex-coach of the New York Knicks and Miami Heat used to call what many entrepreneurs and athletes face, “peripheral opponents.”

These opponents include:

  • Shitty storytelling about your future. Your limiting beliefs of what’s possible for you.
  • Friends, family, lovers and acquaintances that are threatened by your ambition.
  • The feeling of being an “impostor” as you begin to act on new ideas or ventures.

A lot of people will take great joy in dumping on your ideas. Your ambitions. Your ideas. Your new vision for your life.

While you’re floundering for firm footing. Your ideas and projects are still fragile creatures with the only potential for future success. They require love, nurturing, patience and entrepreneurial green thumb.

It sucks, but it’s a fact of life. Blood thirsty, dream-stealing vultures have a knack for swooping in and offering up their 2 cents right when your own confidence is plummeting. 

This is how the vast majority of  people think and act. Accept this.

Their brains can ONLY think and respond to what they already see in existence. They’re not cut out to be entrepreneurs. They can’t or won’t tap in to the art, ideas and entrepreneurial streak they’ve long ago buried six feet under. Squelched from existence, never to see the light of day.

“Give me evidence!  Show me proof!” they scream.

They rack their overly-rational brains in a failed attempt to find the 100% sure path to success. You know, the golden unicorn that doesn’t exist for ANYONE. They demand life provide them a guarantee of things working out.

Except, you and I already know that’s not where we stumble upon breakthroughs. We must test test our limits consistently and faithfully, even when the Grim Reaper of disaster and failure comes a knocking.

And therein lies the rub.

Everything for most people depends on “when.” They don’t appreciate the process. The daily rituals. The small wins and 1% progress you make each day you show up. Butt in chair. Because, as entrepreneurs, creative mavericks and adventurous souls, we do our creating from the inside out.

The reason other people get to see the things that we bring into existence – the new company, art, a new client, a popular blog, a published book or podcast – is because we did the work of making it REAL in our minds first. If we skipped that step, the invisible to the outside world step, then our ideas don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the light of day.

YOUR NEW STORY CAN TURN IT ALL AROUND

Humor me for a moment.

If you don’t flip the script on the dream stealers, who has to live with the fallout? Them or you?

Who will have to take that soul-crushing cubicle gig and die on the vine, every Monday through Friday?

Who will scrape by making $35,000 a year, living in squalor in a 150 square foot studio apartment?

Who will have to look at themselves in the mirror each morning and say, “Could I have been a contender, if I only tried?”

All is not lost. 

If you put pen to paper.  Mash fingers to keyboard. Drop butt in the chair, no excuses. Letting things rip. Slowly but surely, I promise you that a new story will begin to take shape. A compelling story you actually WANT to continue writing and living. But not without work. Not without sacrifice. Not without moments of wanting to burn it all to the ground.

How will you do it?