We all live within our own head. We are prisoners of our own perspectives which are tainted by our own knowledge, our experiences, our personality, and most of all, our own story. Our story is powerful because it is ours. We take our own personal narrative as truth. In fact, it’s so much our own truth that we try to manipulate the world around us to align with our own story.
We see this happen in politics. If your story includes a political ideology, we see righteousness in the voices of our politicians and evil coming from the opposite side. In just the past few weeks, I’ve heard smart people claim that there is no way that you can be against Trump and be a Christian and I’ve heard smart people say that Trump has never done a good thing in his life. Our story is powerful, and we get lost in it.
We see this happen at work. If our story involves a boss who doesn’t have our interests at heart, then all we see are bad decisions and poor intentions. If our story involves employees who don’t care or work hard, all we see is laziness and poor decisions. Our story is powerful, and we get lost in it.
We see this happen in our lives. When someone wrongs us, we see a villain who can’t do right. We assume negative intentions. We become the hero in our own story. Our story is powerful, and we get lost in it.
The problem with being trapped in the story in our head is that we become observers in our own lives. Some people influence us positively and are protagonists while others do the opposite and are antagonist. When we meet someone new, we immediately watch to see what kind of character they will become. We ask, how will THEY act to impact MY story.
The reality is, we have no way of controlling how other people impact our story. We can only control our own actions. When we only live in our own story, we are victims of how other’s treat us. We are passive judges living within our own lives.
Let me offer an alternative.
What if we change it up? Instead of living in our own story and watching how others influence us, what if we seek to understand the story of others and watch how we influence others?
This is the secret of the the most positive leaders.
When someone disagrees with them, they seek to understand their perspective and focus on how they treat the other person. This creates a broader understanding and gives the leader a chance to make a positive difference in the world.
This is my challenge to you (and to myself). Don’t focus just on your own story. Work to seek understanding of the stories around you. Don’t just focus on what others do to you. Focus on how you can influence others.
I think you’ll find this exercise, which takes practice, nothing less than transformational.