Storytelling is how I connect. I invest in your story by finding out all I can about you and creating an environment of openness, trust and honesty. Once I know your story then I am happy to share mine. Sometimes, I have to share my story first in order to get you to share yours, but it’s a great investment because the Return on Investment (ROI) is huge and you also get ROR, which is Return on Relationship.
Storytelling is applicable to all aspects of our lives because it makes us relatable, authentic and human. In today’s new leadership paradigm, the leader is someone who is capable of sharing vulnerability and personal stories because we need to invest in the stories of the people we lead.
I use storytelling to share my business vision and mission, because I was once a ‘lost’ leader who discovered his true path of passion and purpose. I now help people find theirs. When I share this story it makes sense to people and that is the ultimate benefit of stories – they’re about trying to make sense of our experiences and relating them to the human condition. I use storytelling in speeches, in personal conversation and I even use them in interviews. I am not afraid to share a personal story because our lives, whether professional, academic or social, are personal to us!
One of the questions I got in a job interview was to talk about a challenge. I could have used a work-related example. Instead, I shared the ups and downs of having a mixed marriage, dealing with cultural, parental, and family gaps and how I made it a success. Instead of isolating myself, the entire panel could relate. Why? Because almost everyone has either dealt with mixed relationships or knows someone who has and we all deal with the parental gap at times. It takes courage to share, but it also shows there is so much more to me than what is on my resume. I got the job!
Know that every person has a story, a need to belong to something and create a story for themselves that is bigger than who they are. So if you invest in people’s stories and think about your own story, you will eventually create impact, resulting in legacy. What will your story and your legacy be?
By Bobby Umar, P. Eng, MBA, Raeallan, Toronto, ON, CYBF Mentor