The Power of Your Narrative

As we round out this month’s conversation around how to better execute, I want to look at the bigger issue at hand.

Let’s look at why this matters so much.

People love progress. YOU love progress.

Not only are we naturally wired for it, our culture is constantly fueling our innate desire to do and be more. 

Authors Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer of the Progress Principle have even bet their life’s work on this topic. 

“In an analysis of 12,000 daily diaries, the authors found that of all the events that occur on best days, one stood out well above the rest – simply making progress on meaningful work.”

Progress makes us feel amazing

It drives our joy, fulfillment, and results. 

The key to getting it? 

Having a positive inner work life. 

Amabile and Kramer describe our inner work life as: the constant stream of emotions, perceptions and motivations that people experience as they go through their work days.  

In other words, all of the things that determine our inner stories.

For the last several weeks we’ve been exploring what keeps us from making progress. 

Last week we called out comparison and its massive impact on movement. 

Today I’m talking about our greatest obstacle, and the thing that determines whether we grow or remain stuck.

It is the unfortunate reality that the narratives we tell ourselves actually hold the most power over how much progress we make. 

Our stories are getting in the way of execution.

“If you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

On some level we know this. So why are so many of us still stuck here?

As leaders, we aren’t as self aware as we think we are. In a famous study by IO psychologist, Tasha Eurich, she found that although 95% of people think they’re self aware, only 10-15% actually are. 

If you’re not aware of the emotions and stories driving you, you can’t do anything about the limitations they’re creating. 

Here’s a powerful visual we use in our Emerge group – a leadership program focused on helping women leaders level up to their next season. 

Everything flows from our thoughts – the ones that are true and the ones we make up.

We build stories from a myriad of places over a lifetime of experiences: parenting, coaching, teaching, input, etc. We take it in and our brains begin writing the chapters. 

Then we drag these stories into adulthood and end up projecting them onto our partners, kids, team members, and our work. 

As a result, we see both the growth and limitations they create. 

Stories hold tremendous power.

So, what do your stories sound like? Are they moving you forward or keeping you stuck?

In our course on Positive Intelligence, these limiting narratives are called Saboteurs. While their goal is to protect, ultimately they end up sabotaging the movement, dreams, relationships, and everything else we’re all hoping to create. 

It’s an expensive proposition when we aren’t willing to identify and challenge these narratives.

They inevitably undermine your ability to be productive, confident, and effective, and as a result, begin sabotaging your relationship with yourself and others. 

So, how do you turn it around?

The solutions aren’t complicated, but like everything else worth doing, this has to matter and it has to be intentional

We have to look at the cost and decide if it’s expensive enough to do anything about.  

Here are SIX ways to start building a more empowering narrative – one that gives life and energy to the people and work you truly want to create.

  1. Reflect and audit. What are you believing now? We need to know what’s driving our beliefs, actions, and results. I remember my first attempt at this exercise – it revealed far more red flags than I previously imagined.
  2. Challenge your story. What’s actually TRUE about your story? Is your narrative based on fact or a biased opinion? Usually, it’s the latter and we’re allowing that story to have a massive impact on our actions. Make sure you’re not falling for your own junk.
  3. Assess what’s working. Do your stories serve your goals? Are they empowering you to grow and create or do they cause you to stop in your tracks? If it doesn’t align, it’s time for a reframe.
  4. Create a new story. What do you WANT to believe? What story fuels and aligns with the actions and results you aspire to achieve? Stop relying on hope. If you can’t name these, you won’t live them out.
  5. Set reminders. Our brains are full of so much noise, that you have to set reminders for what you want to remember – that’s what makes affirmations so powerful. What do you want to remind yourself that’s true? Write it down and put it where you can see it.
  6. Celebrate your progress. We seem to miss this one the most. Once we’ve achieved the “thing”, we have a strong habit of simply moving on to the next one. The practice of acknowledging and celebrating a win significantly enhances our ability to create another one.   

Narratives change everything.

The way we show up and the things that we ultimately create in our lives are dependent on the stories we tell ourselves. Do you know yours?

Your peace, fulfillment and results depend so much on that answer.

This is such a big deal that one of our EIGHT sessions of Emerge is dedicated solely to the topic of narratives. 

As we launch our last Emerge of 2023, we’re looking for a few more leaders who want to join a phenomenal group of other women focused on progress and change…women who are ready to rewrite the stories and perceptions they’ve been listening to and claim back the power they ultimately have over their results. 

Is that you? Email me at [email protected] and let’s chat.