What’s Your Story?

Young Black Man with Digital Tablet in a CafeIn the midst of our hectic lives, who are we being? It is easy to get caught up in the frantic pace we see around us or that our work places reinforce – and not be our best selves every minute.

We have a lot of stuff on our plates. We have many items on our to-do lists. We want to keep our commitments. That’s good – but I suggest that we’re not contributing like we can. We’re not serving like we can.

Frantic activity alone may not be the best way to spend our time on this earth!

We must be more intentional about who we are, about how we’re acting, about how we’re treating others, and about “to what end” we’re toiling.

And, if we are not clear about these important things, we will be used by people who are.

We need to understand our unique purpose on this planet, the values that guide us, and our unique talents. We need to understand our story. Only then are we able to clarify whether our plans, decisions, and actions are aligned with our best selves.

My story is grounded upon character and values. From my family, I learned the importance of honesty, keeping commitments, serving others, and bettering yourself. In high school I learned that pride can get in the way of integrity. In my first job at our local YMCA, I learned about values clarification, teamwork, and follow through.

In college I learned that people can proclaim many beliefs but how they treat others reveals their true selves. I found synergy and success when working with people who challenged me, shared my values, and laughed a lot.

In my early career I learned that leadership is a verb! My best bosses were proactive with us, defining exactly what was expected of us performance-wise and citizenship-wise. My less effective bosses focused only on performance, which encouraged “I win, you lose” behaviors from colleagues. Those actions inhibited teamwork, service, and overall performance.

My best bosses taught me about the tremendous importance of a values-aligned culture. It drives top performance, top engagement, and top service. Culture is a passion, and I’m inspired to help leaders craft effective cultures every day.

What’s your story? What life principles came clear to you while growing up, while in school, while in your first jobs? How did interactions with your parents, teachers, coaches, friends, colleagues, and bosses influence your beliefs?

Take time away from frantic activity, away from social media, away from your connected devices, to reflect on these questions – and write out your insights. Those insights will help you formalize your life purpose, your values and behaviors, and your life philosophy. Once those critical elements are clear, you can easily see which of your activities and behaviors are aligned and which are not.

Spend more time in aligned activities and less time in mis-aligned ones. The changes you make will help you know and act from your best self in every interaction.

That’s a story that’s worth living.

How clear is your team or company’s present day purpose? Do team members understand your strategies and goals well enough to articulate them to others? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © william87 – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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