How to Tell Your Story (2)

A Coaching Exercise

In the previous post I described how we edit our own lives. Sometimes, without us being conscious of it we have given negative events a much bigger role in our past than they deserve; we have allowed them to become powerful influencers of our current lives.

Try This

This is an exercise I have used when coaching with all age groups, initially with young children who had been part of the care system, but I have found it’s just as helpful for adults.

Take a large sheet of paper and some pens. Start with your earliest memory and draw a box for every significant event in your life. Write the event in the box.

Your Memories

For example, I have a very vivid memory of my brother being born at home (well, it was January and a neighbour sent me to play in the garden – I was cold!) It was a significant life event because I stopped being an only child at age 4 and a half.

Other examples of significant events in my life include leaving home to go to University, my first plane trip to the US, my first experience of loss. The older you are the longer your list will be!

At this stage don’t worry about whether events are good or bad, just collect them. You may have several on the page and need more paper. Keep them in date order but wind about the page at will. It will take you some time.

Some years you may have several boxes of significance, and some will be relatively incident free.

After you’ve done this part of the exercise leave it for a while, hours or days; go off and do something else. When you return to it, look at it again with fresh eyes and check you’ve not left anything out.

Pause a While

Now you have your life in front of you, or specifically your memory of your life. These are some of the building blocks of your life (some you won’t have remembered.)

Using the data you have collected try writing down a few paragraphs about yourself for use in the following circumstances. In all cases you must focus only on the positives.

Three Scenarios

1) You are at a networking event and meet someone who you think could become a really good friend. They are bright and bubbly, and in the course of conversation they ask you to tell them about yourself, your life. You say…..

2) You have been for an interview for a senior post and are at the ‘trial by sherry’ stage. A senior member of the board says you seem to be really strong personality (which is what they are looking for). She asks you where your resolve to succeed came from. You say….

3) You meet an old friend you haven’t seen for over ten years. They ask you what you’ve been up to for last ten years. Remembering you are focussing only on positives, you say….

This exercise is not about  putting on a false face, a mask, but being conscious of the image you choose to present to the world. We all edit our past- just make sure your good bits haven’t ended up on the cutting room floor!


Posted on February 9th, 2010 by

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