Bringing Your Back Story into the Light

The back story is where the story begins. We often forget this when moving forward with the next chapter; whether that be for your blogging, your business, or your brand.

As some of you know, we’re in the midst of revamping the Get Storied website. It will soon launch with a new design and structure that better reflects the scope and vision of our evolving story. The blog content will be better organized into easier to navigate categories and will begin to include guest contributors and more voices from around the world (Want to contribute? email me) The new site will also do a better job of helping the Get Storied community plug into all the various resources, programs, and happenings that we’re putting together.

So while I’m in the midst of this process, I’ve been experiencing some real angst around my own story. See, I’ve outgrown the old container, but I haven’t yet emerged stepped into the new story, and emerge on the other side into the promised land. I can sense its just around the corner, yet I’m not quite there yet. I’m in what you can call “no man’s land”. Buddhists call it the Bardo, the netherworlds. It sucks to be in this place. You’re not quite here or there. I turn into the brooding artist. I eat lots of chocolate and turn into a hermit.

I’ve learned a few things when I’m in this place. One, make sure I’m stocked up on lots of chocolate. Two, be kind to myself. And Three, look backwards in order to find the path forward. That’s a lesson from the West African parable Sankofa, which I discuss in my storytelling manifesto Believe Me. Sankofa is often depicted as a bird flying forward yet looking backwards. The lesson from this mythic tale is the following: in order to overcome the biggest trials –  you often have to backtrack and reclaim something you previously discarded (thinking it no longer was important). That old part of yourself unlocks the secret to completing the quest. Sounds like the game of Zelda, right?

The same goes with each of our storied paths. We usually have to reclaim or remember a part of ourselves in order to become who we truly are. Not only is that law of the mythic life, that’s been a driving theme of my 12-week course on social media storytelling. So many incredibly talented and passionate souls enrolled in this course! And yet, when it comes to social media – we face all sorts of fear and resistance about putting ourselves out there. We’ve been discussing these issues, and developing strategies for breakthrough the places of resistance. It really helps when you’re clear about your back story.

Here are seven questions to support you in the process:

  • What happened earlier in life or career that has led you down this path?
  • What are you trying to resolve, reconcile, or finally find the answers to?
  • What are your defining moments that shaped and defined who you are?
  • What do you know by the very nature and experiences of who you are?
  • What have you learned through hard work, growth, and/or pain?
  • Where do you possess the deepest passion and curiosities?
  • What is yours to do (not somebody else’s)?

Answer these questions, deeply and honestly, and I promise you will have a better sense of your own path forward. When you reclaim your story, it becomes a whole lot easier to put yourself out there. The clarity and conviction that comes with knowing the truth of who you are becomes a contagious experience. Others will start to perceive and see you from the new story too.

Give it a try and share your experience in the comments below.


Join us for StoryU Online: Undeniable Story — an 8-week program where you learn our six-step storytelling framework. Begins Oct 6!

  • http://donaldmcmichael.com/ Donald McMichael

    Michael,
    Great piece on what it takes to understand and communicate who you are at the core. I love the question “What are you trying to resolve, reconcile, or finally find the answers to?, for it forces you to make the story relevant to something in the the here and now.

    Our our work in RMA plus our conversation at the NYC gathering drove me to tell my back-story at http://donaldmcmichael.com/passionate-about-business-strategy.htm This post, however, has challenged me to go back and hone it even more.

  • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

    Thanks Donald, coming from you that means a lot! You’re totally off to a great start with your post.

    Now consider expanding on it to answer the following, especially in the context of a fun and memorable bio:

    * What gives you natural authority? (i.e. I was bossy since kindergarden, etc…)
    * Then define your role/expertise (describe what you do today to channel that inner-gift)
    * Capture glimpse of your past experience (one or two key career highlights)
    * Offer some external validators that help reinforce social proof (press, clients, awards, etc…)
    * Close with something that humanizes who you are/where you come from (personal interests, etc…)

    Will expand on this in a future blog post, along with a bunch of examples.

  • http://donaldmcmichael.com/ Donald McMichael

    Michael,
    Great piece on what it takes to understand and communicate who you are at the core. I love the question “What are you trying to resolve, reconcile, or finally find the answers to?, for it forces you to make the story relevant to something in the the here and now.

    Our our work in RMA plus our conversation at the NYC gathering drove me to tell my back-story at http://donaldmcmichael.com/passionate-about-business-strategy.htm This post, however, has challenged me to go back and hone it even more.

  • Lisa Rossetti

    Hi Michael

    Love these questions – really helpful, great springboards for possibility.

    S: I am really thrilled that you are beginning to mention West Africa. I am going back to Ghana next year to collect stories of courage & perseverance from “ordinary” women – the farmers and micro-businesses. Then I am going to share these stories with entrepreneurs in UK (and maybe beyond).
    Why? Because we have so much to learn from them, their leadership.
    This is my Big Story!
    In fact, I am giving a talk next week to finalists of the Your Big Year competition (www.yourbigyear.com) entitled Your Big Goal – Your Big Story.
    Please tweet any other inspirations about West Africa that you have.

    • http://www.getstoried.com/ Michael Margolis

      Hi Lisa -

      That sounds super exciting! Let us know when you do share those stories and we’ll try to promote it.

      Did you see my recent tweet? Powerful blog post by @grahamk5 on Africa #storytelling; how perception shapes reality – http://bit.ly/b3t6lA #reinvention

      He’s also in Ghana. Consider connecting those dots. :-)