How to Use Story to Fuel Vitality
Admiration is energy.
Your story is the channel of vitality.
My people were farmers on both sides. Dad’s family grew potatoes. Mom’s family milked cows. Mom and dad took over the dairy farm when I was young.
I am who they were, even though I haven’t milked cows for decades.
7 lessons my people taught me:
- Success is showing up and putting one step in front of the other. Lean in and keep pulling.
- Fun comes after work. Life is about responsibility, not fun.
- Figure it out. Fix it yourself. Get it done.
- Live within your means.
- Nothing changes when you complain.
- You can’t control the weather, so don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about anything you can’t control.
- Take care of your tools and they will take care of you. Grandfather serviced the hay baler after every use.
Story as a source of vitality:
My wife mentioned that she tried to pull a downed branch off our front yard, but it was too heavy. She asked if I could help her. I said I could do it myself. She was skeptical.
I noticed her watching through the front window when I went out. I didn’t stop pulling that branch until I tossed it on the brush pile behind the garage. Yes it was heavy, but I tried not to let her see how hard I was working.
My people kept pulling. You speak to something deeply important to me when you notice I work hard.
Know the formative stories of everyone on your team.
When team members admire someone in their story, notice how they possess those same admirable qualities.
Someone might say, “My parents were funny.” That’s your cue to admire them when they’re funny.
Admiration is energy when it connects with your story.
What drains people’s energy?
How might leaders use people’s stories as a channel of vitality.
The Power of Story: Change Your Story, Change Your Destiny in Business and in Life: Loehr, Jim
Storytelling’s Power To Connect Us, Shift Perspective And Spur Action – NPR
What drains people’s energy? Surrounded by “watchers” instead of “doers” becomes a drain on oneself if you let it. The “I can do it” is great, just remember not to over do it, work smarter no harder comes to mind.
How might leaders use people’s stories as a channel of vitality. The reality we get from stories ensures us a path to chose or maybe gets us to find other ways than ours to learn.
Thanks Tim. Your comment about over-doing seems important. Leaders earn opportunities by doing…but as time passes, the job shifts to helping others do things. It can be a tough shift. Sometimes the frustration of doing too much is the thing that helps leaders realize they need to enable others.
This article helps with the “too many monkeys” problem – https://nanopdf.com/download/file-5ae1cbcc3d059_pdf
Thank you for this guidance. Knowing the important elements of your colleagues life story helps a leader guide them to new adventures/areas of growth. I know some of my teams’ stories, but not all, so I’m going to ask and find time to listen to each one so I will know them better. Thank you.
Thanks Michael. Using stories as a lens to see, understand, and advise increases our ability to bring positive value to team members. Treating everyone the same devalues and drains people. Treating people as individuals shows respect. Best wishes.
Boy…this had some good stuff today. Personally, I found myself unconsciously nodding when I read numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
7 lessons my people taught me:
1. Success is showing up and putting one step in front of the other. Lean in and keep pulling. 2. Fun comes after work. Life is about responsibility, not fun. 3. Figure it out. Fix it yourself. Get it done. 4. Live within your means. 5. Nothing changes when you complain. 6. You can’t control the weather, so don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about anything you can’t control. 7. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you. Grandfather serviced the hay baler after every use.
Thanks Mike. It’s a pleasure to be useful. Here’s to a great week. Perhaps we can both live into our history a bit.
Your story needs to include:
1. The context–the environment and people involved
2. The significant challenges you faced
3. How you overcame the obstacles
4. What you learned in the process
Making progress, learning, overcoming obstacles, and achieving goals–gives us energy and vitality.
What drains people’s energy? Too many demands on your plate. Being surrounded by negative people. Inability to see beyond the obstacles. Acting like a victim.
Powerful insights, Paul. Thank you. One energy drain I frequently see is getting lost in the weeds. As you wrote, “Inability to see beyond the obstacles.” I find that lifting a leader out of the weeds by exploring and clarifying the big picture renews there energy. When they step back into day-to-day challenges they have a sense of direction and purpose.
My wife says I tell new friends two things about myself early on:
-my father owned a Camera store where I worked from age 10 till I liquidated it after he died. Retail teaches you a lot about people.
-I was an Accountant, which taught me about business, law about leading people.
Thanks Brad. It feels good to learn a bit of your story. How are you like your dad?
My father and I were very different. Both workaholics. He was much quieter; I learned my people skills from my mother. Growing up in the Depression made him very risk adverse; owning gold and silver coins for example and very limited travel away from his Camera store. As a Baby Boomer my world was much more open and diverse-travel, moving and several jobs. I was more like my grandfather who built things and created value while my father was more of a caretaker. Great question and made me think!
I appreciated this article today which reminds us that people need to feel “seen”. The comment about “lifting a leader out of the weeds” also resonated with me because I need this lifting at times, so I don’t get mired in the weeds.
Dan, this is a great tip in building the sense of value for my team members. Caring about their story and sharing my own show a healthy appreciation and vulnerability, fostering a strong servant-leader model. I imagine it projects a message that values team over hierarchy, which is always a good idea.
Thanks for inspiring me to try this with my team. Question, have you seen it work to improve relationships between feuding co-workers when done in a small group team setting?