One thing I regularly tell people in my workshops is that to change an outcome we need to change our behavior. As John Connor said in many timelines of the Terminator movies, “There is no fate but what we make.” We can do it one way and see the same thing, or we can do it another and do it better.
One of my favorite quotes is by Marshall Ganz, an activist leader and senior lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government. In his essay, “Why Stories Matter: The Art and Craft of Social Change,” he talks about the effects of aggressively owning your own choices. That is, being the protagonist in your own story.
"Some people say, “I don’t want to talk about myself,” but if you don’t interpret [it] to others...people will interpret it for you. You don’t have any choice if you want to be a leader. You have to claim authorship of your story and learn to tell it to others so they can understand the values that move you to act, because it might move them to act as well."
I use this message to remind people good presentation, good customer service, good leadership, in fact all we do, doesn’t happen by acident. We are our own agents of change.
He goes on to write…
"We all have a story of self. What’s utterly unique about each of us is not the categories we belong to; what’s utterly unique to us is our own journey of learning to be a full human being... And those journeys are never easy. They have their challenges, their obstacles, their crises. We learn to overcome them, and because of that we have lessons to teach."
This idea – that we all have a lifetime of experience that defines us and can influence those around us – reminds us everything we say and do has an impact, and we have the freedom to choose what we say and do.
There is a beautiful line in the play “Stage Kiss” by Sarah Rull: “Every night the sun goes down and the moon comes up and you have another chance to be good.”
Did the conversation with your boss not go well? Was your keynote not as polished as it could have been? Are you role modeling the behavior you would like to see in others?
All of these experiences are part of your story, the story of you. And you are the author of your life.