WHO'S REALLY TELLING YOUR STORY?
How Ed Mylett Made Me Question My Own Advice
Finding Inspiration from Ed Mylett
I’ve always believed that successful people have two key qualities in common. First, they are life-long learners who seek out people and concepts that help them continuously improve. Second, they nurture self-evaluation skills that help them self-correct, manage their ego, and grow.
I usually satisfy my learning cravings through books, podcasts, lectures and talks, research, and, to be honest, through my client interviews. My Storytellers constantly enrich my life and give me new perspective.
Recently, a few friends from one of my networking groups recommended the Ed Mylett podcast/video. I’m hooked! His inspiration and energy are infectious.
You can imagine how disappointed I was, though, when I listened to his episode about the ego, and he said that people who constantly tell stories of their past are allowing their ego to lead.
Woah! I tell people to share their stories often, so this advice put me off balance.
I didn’t want to give up Ed’s podcast, but I also didn’t want to disagree with him. (In fact, if you listen to the episode, you could argue that I was giving into my ego because I was looking for his approval. But that’s a discussion for another post.)
Destructive Ego or a Blessing?
So I thought and prayed on my dilemma: Is telling your story and sharing your history egocentric or a humble blessing for your family?
I know (and research proves) that children who know their family history tend to hope, cope, prosper, and enjoy their lives more than kids who don’t know their family stories.
I know (and research proves) that Baby Boomers want their parents’ stories, beliefs, and values more than they want a financial inheritance.
How do I reconcile what Ed Mylett was saying with what I know to be true?
Why can't we both be right? When I listen to someone I respect, I want to see black and white. I want a clear decision, but maybe this is a gray area. Maybe a little ego-less conversation would find us both on the same page.
I believe that you should tell your stories (and even tell them often), but successful stories are told in an intentional way.
Your grateful, authentic self will tell a better story at the right time with the right intensity than your ego ever will.
Let’s understand when our egos are telling the story . . .
Your grateful, authentic self
will tell a better story
at the right time
with the right intensity
than your ego ever will.
EGO STORYTELLING PERSONAS
If you find yourself responding to another person’s story with what you think is a better, more inspiring, more outrageous story, then your One-Upper Storyteller is probably at work.
You know this is happening when you see the other person’s facial expression fall with a here-we-go-again look, and he/she disengages from the conversation.
Your Authentic Self will tell stories that build others up and strengthen connections. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to recognize why you started down this storytelling path.
Are you trying to build a connection based on a common interest, but your thoughts came out the wrong way? Did you speak too quickly without considering the consequences of your words?
It’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Just stop talking and turn the conversation back to the original teller.
If you find yourself “borrowing” someone else’s story, then your ego has taken over. I think this is a serious flaw. You are lying to your audience. Whether you are a journalist or telling your own life story, your credibility means everything.
Remember that your audience can and will recognize a lie a mile away. They will disengage, and they will distrust the rest of your story.
If you find yourself telling someone else’s story as if it were your own, stop and admit your mistake. Don’t keep digging the hole.
Ask for forgiveness, privately delve deeper into why you would need to appropriate someone else’s story, and be mindful of telling the truth going forward.
Ahhh . . . The Gossip. The Gossip knows everyone’s business and isn’t afraid to share it. When you gossip, you’re telling someone else’s story, presumably, for your own benefit.
What do you gain when you gossip? Usually, you get attention. A gossip is saying, “I know something you don’t.” or “I’ll be the judge of that.”
If you know something that everyone else doesn’t, then someone trusts you. You need to honor that trust and keep the confidant’s confidence until the information is public knowledge.
In fact, if gossip becomes part of your memoir, you could actually face legal action for defamation of character or privacy infringements.
I’ve found it’s best to leave a secret where it belongs: in your heart and/or your head, but keep it out of your mouth and away from your keyboard.
I also believe that judgment has no place in your story. Your memoir and your everyday stories will be much more interesting if you tell them with compassion, grace, mercy, and forgiveness for yourself as well as for the cast of characters who participate in your life.
When you tell a story, think about whether it is truly your story. Are you the lead actor? Do you play a supporting role? If you are simply the narrator, then you should probably stop and re-evaluate.
Think about whether it’s your story to tell and examine your motives. If the story was yours to share, you’ll have another opportunity, and you’ll know for sure that you should tell it.
Think about the best storytellers you’ve heard or read. They usually tell stories to inform, entertain, teach, and/or inspire.
Those are the types of stories that will give you the most bang for your buck, because the time you spend with the listener is serving the listener not your own ego.
If you find yourself telling a story that shoots off into multiple tangents and tends to ramble on and on with no end in sight, stop. Ask yourself if you are just trying to hear yourself talk. Then, rethink the intent of your story.
Was it to make someone laugh? Was it to illustrate a life lesson (these are often my favorite stories!)? Were you trying to inspire your audience to take action?
I tell my Storytellers that complete stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but most importantly, they have a “So What.”
The "So What" wraps the story in a bow and connects it back to the conversation, the paragraph, the chapter. It’s your point.
The "So What" is the gift you gave your audience in exchange for their attention and their time. Don’t waste their time rambling. Know what you want to say, why you want to say it, and say it well.
The "So What" the gift you gave your audience in exchange for their attention and their time.
During my first job out of college, my employer required everyone to take a Dale Carnegie class about how to win friends and influence people. The instructor taught us to use our personal stories to connect with other people through common interests or events.
For example, if someone shares a story about their pregnancy, share a story about your pregnancy to connect. If someone shares a story about jumping off a cliff, share your story about sky diving.
I think authentically sharing to connect is a natural method we use to grow deeper friendships. And I would dare say that we all could use a few more deep friendships.
But the Dale Carnegie advice can also backfire. I think it's easy to fall into one of the Ego Storytelling Personas in an honest effort to connect with someone.
So what can we do about it? (Ha Ha! See what I did there?)
Whether in person, in print, or on a recording, sharing your personal and family stories with your loved ones is an irreplaceable gift.
I want you to share your stories often, but I also want you to be intentional about when to share your stories and with whom you share your stories.
Recognize when your ego is telling your story and take action that will build up, entertain, inform, teach, and/or inspire your audience.
Give other people a chance to tell their stories. (Your ego always wants to be the center of attention.)
If you tell your stories to help other people, (and for my faithful friends, to glorify God), then you can't go wrong.
P.S. Lastly, I hope Ed Mylett agrees with me, but if he doesn't, I know it'll be okay. He also mentions in his podcast that you should hang around with people who have different beliefs than you do. That's one way to grow and prevent your ego from taking over. Just think of the stories we could tell each other!
What do you think? Which Storytelling Ego Persona do you need to work on the most? Share with us in the comments below!
Share your (humble, ego-less, intentional) stories often. Save your life story forever.
Be intentional about when to share your
stories and with whom you share your stories.
Want to learn more about saving your life story?
Check out my Life Story School!
This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!
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