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What’s Your Story?! Make it a Good One
David J. Pollay
your story?!” We used to ask that question when I was growing up
in Wisconsin. We didn’t know what the question really meant; it
was more of an expression. We just wanted to know why people were
acting the way they were.
Judith Rodin, future president of the University of Pennsylvania, asked
us to be an “eye-witness” to a staged event, and afterwards describe
what we saw.
could guess the results. Our descriptions of the same event
differed from student to student, sometimes dramatically.
“facts” were not as obvious as we thought they would be.
interpretations add up to a story – a story of who we think we are,
what we have experienced, and what we’re likely to do in the future.
room was packed to hear professor David Courtney. His message
that day was captured in his question to the class, “Are you taking an
adventure every day of your life?”
challenged us to immerse ourselves in something we love, something that
challenges us every day.
trying to help him realize that his approach to communication was not
helping our business, and it wasn’t helping him.
then in a moment of frustration he yelled out proudly, “My way has
gotten me this far!”
paused. I looked at him. I felt sad. He was
right. He wanted to be a director, yet he was a second level
customer service representative. His story was not working.
said in his book The
Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self, “If
you feel that your myth is stagnant, if you sense that you are not
moving forward in life with purpose, if you believe that you are
falling behind in some sense with respect to the growth of your
personal identity, then what you are looking for is developmental
change in personal myth.”
told me, “For forty years my philosophy has been, if you’re presented
with an ‘outrageous’ opportunity, take it. I have never regretted
doing something; I have only regretted not doing something.”
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