If you really want to transform your life and your biz you’ve got to drop your “woe-is-me” story.
You know the one..the one that sounds like the latest episode of some dramatic soap opera. The one in which you cast yourself in the role of victim to all of the terrible injustices that have been heaped upon you over the years. The one you use to explain why your life isn’t working and never will. The one you use as an excuse for why you can’t do or be more. The one you use as an out so you don’t even have to try.
There are as many variations of the “woe-is-me” story as there are people on the planet. Each is unique in the details, but alike in that they hold us back from being and expressing more fully who we really are. Some common themes:
- I’m miserable and unhappy because my parents abused me when I was a child.
- I can’t have a healthy, happy relationship because my father abandoned me, my husband cheated on me, my mother was an alcoholic, my parents fought all the time, etc…
- I can’t grow my business right now because my children make too many demands on my time.
- I can’t be successful because I never had the opportunity to go to college.
And of course, the list could go on and on…ad nauseum. No doubt you’ve perfected the telling of your “woe-is-me” story as if it were a fine art. It’s in our nature to be quite gifted at story-telling, and it’s easy to continue spinning the same story over and over again, year after year.
The challenge lies not in spinning the “woe-is-me” story, but in letting it go, in refusing to any longer allow it to shape who you are and what you’re capable of.
While your story (your past) has certainly contributed to who you are, it does not define you, nor does it have to shape your future.
Now we come to the paradox…
The very story that is critical to let go of may hold the essence of the story that will transform your life and your biz. Flip that “woe-is-me” story around to craft a compelling “why” story and you’ve discovered the key to re-igniting your passion, inspiring others and to attracting those you’re meant to serve.
For entrepreneurs the telling of your story from a different perspective is the key to inspiring clients to engage your services, buy your products, subscribe to your blogs or ezines, and to inspiring and exciting your team to be and do their best.
Every entrepreneur I’ve ever worked with has had a personal story about why they do what they do, and how they came to feel such a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Often times, though it’s this very story that drives them to go into biz for themselves, they aren’t consciously aware of it and they’ve never thought to attempt to articulate it.
Becoming aware of your reason for doing what you do and taking the time to articulate it to others, is one of the most powerful ways to transform your life and your biz. Not only will it renew your passion for the work that you do but it will inspire others and it will resonate emotionally with those you’re meant to serve.
A powerful “why” story will tell those you’re meant to serve why you do what you do, that they’re in the right place, that they’ve found the right person to help them, that you’ve been where they are, that if you can do it, so can they.
So what is the difference between a “woe-is-me” story and a “why” story?
They often have quite a lot in common. The difference lies not so much in the content of the story but in the way you spin it.
The “woe-is-me” story is spun with as much drama as possible, and it’s focus is on the past and all of the ways in which your past prevents you from being or doing more with your life.
The “why” story, although it has it’s foundation in the past, is focused on how that same past has inspired you to be and do more and to make a difference in the lives of others.
A Personal Example
My “woe-is-me” story went something like this:
Poor me. My father abused me as a child and I had a bad marriage. I’ll never be good enough. No one will ever really love me. I’ll never be happy. I’ll never have a good career or be successful because I’m too busy taking care of a husband and two kids. I’ll never be happy or successful because of the problems with my health. I can’t do this, I can’t do that, because, because, because….don’t you feel terribly sorry for me?
Ugh! As you can plainly see the only thing your “woe-is-me” story is likely to do is engender pity or sympathy for those unlucky enough to be within earshot of your whining.
Now for my “why” story:
Having been abused as a child and in an emotionally abusive marriage for many years, I put on a facade for so long that I lost sight of who I was, and of what I wanted in my life. I coasted through life on auto-pilot, numb not only to the pain I’d been feeling, but to happiness and joy as well. I was barely surviving, let alone really living.
Then one day I woke up. I began learning to be more present rather than numbing out. To feel whatever I was feeling, rather than trying to avoid emotion, and I began to get re-acquainted with myself, my emotions and my desires. I began living more fully.
I let go of my “woe-is-me” story and all of the reasons it prevented me from being and doing more, and my life transformed in ways I’d never known to even dream of…
I am happier, more fulfilled, and more passionate about my life than I ever knew it was possible to be. My life has gone from something I must “deal” with and “get through,” to something I cherish every moment of.
It’s that very transformation in my own life that drives me to want to help others to transform their lives. It’s why I do what I do…because I want others to experience the joy of living life fully, of going after their dreams, of being passionate about life and all it has to offer. I want others to experience the magic I have.
I think you’ll agree that my “why” story is much more compelling and inspiring than my “woe-is-me” story could ever be.
Transforming your “woe-is-me” story into your “why” story
Drop the drama of your “woe-is-me” story and look at how you can transform it into an inspiring story of why you do what you do. Ask yourself:
- What about your past experience inspired you to go into business to serve others?
- What past experiences make you uniquely qualified to serve others?
- What difference do you want to make in the world and for others?
Don’t censor yourself in an attempt to say what you think others want you to say, or to say what you think you “should” say. Speak boldly and authentically from your heart. It’s that genuine expression of who you are and why you do what you do that will speak to, and resonate with, those you’re meant to serve, and that has the power to transform your life and your biz.