In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The steps for crafting your own personal narrative
- Why it is generous to share your story
- Tell your stories from your scars, not your wounds
Your Story Is A Gift
Hillary makes her living teaching entrepreneurs and leaders how to tell their story. She’s an expert at rendering lived experiences into well-crafted personal narratives. Though she’s had a lot of formal training herself, Hillary believes that anyone can learn to tell excellent stories.
[2:50] [Story] is an art . . . and it’s a learnable skill.”
Hillary has developed a framework for crafting a personal narrative:
- Preparation and Practice
- Strategy and Performance
When working on your story, Hillary says to ask yourself: “What do I want my listeners to do once they’ve heard my story?” This will help you craft it intentionally and with your audience in mind.
Hillary admits telling your own story can feel self-indulgent. To those who claim their story isn’t good enough, Hillary reminds that every time we hear a story we are given the opportunity to think about our life in a new context. When we share a story, we give the gift of our experience and our perspective, and the listener is free to take whatever is useful to them. It’s generous to be a storyteller. Your story is a gift.
Beyond the Hero’s Journey
Stories don’t have to be monumental to be meaningful. That’s one of the reasons why Hillary likes to deviate from the hero’s journey storytelling formula, in which the protagonist’s story centers on a monumental event.
Rather, she developed five elements for crafting a personal narrative:
- Origin story
- Beyond the Blazer
- Scars over Wounds
Within those steps, Hillary encourages her clients to challenge themselves to integrate their personal selves into the stories they tell in professional settings. The goal is to be human and intentional about sharing ourselves with others.
Hillary teaches to tell stories from scars instead of open wounds. Storytelling is vulnerable, and sharing something painful can be overwhelming for the audience and the storyteller if those wounds haven’t healed yet.
She also emphasizes that no story is too small. Even if people don’t like it, your value is not attached to your audience’s reception of your story.
[33:55] “If you trust that your story matters, and you trust that you want to share it . . . do it.”
Choosing Which Parts Of Yourself To Share
Hillary recalls the moment when she realized she needed to start voicing her personal values at work. For a time, she was keeping quiet about what she believed, and her company messaging started to suffer. So, she doubled down on clarifying her storytelling philosophy — and started telling her own story at work.
[16:59] “I started showing up for my business and what [it] stood for and what made [it] different when I showed up for myself.”
However, the balance between personal brand and business brand is not easy. For those who have a specialty, are known for it, and desire to be known for more, Hillary recommends asking and making a list answering: “What do I want to be known for?”
Podcasters Can Tell Better Stories With Better Questions
As a fellow podcaster, Hillary knows that good podcasts strategically choose what stories to tell their audience. When she first started listening to podcasts, Hillary noticed many were missing a human element. The most human podcasts she identified all have two things in common:
- They are conversational
- The hosts ask their guests curious, open-ended questions
When listening to podcasts — or stories in general — Hillary recommends that storytellers ask:
- What do I like about this podcast or story?
- How is the story being told?
- How can I pull those ideas or styles into my storytelling?
Become invested in others’ stories. Curiosity can ignite inward reflection, help you plumb your experience, and tell your story.
- Hillary’s website
Heads up: There will be some changes coming to the podcast. I want to find a way to have even more human conversations like I had with Hillary — and to explore a wider range of topics. Have an idea for how I can weave a common thread through these? Shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace!