Your Perspective Shapes Your Story

Growing up, yard work was tedious. On hot summer days, my sister and I kneeled in the flower bed pulling weeds and picking up pinecones. I used to swear my parents thought they had two boys. In between wiping the sweat from my face and gulping down water, I would mumble to my sister that I will hire someone to take care of my lawn. I will never pull weeds as an adult.

Over the years, my sister has purchased two homes. In both, I have watched her manicure her lawn and grow vegetables. I sporadically tease her that we agreed to hire someone. Like many things, our perspectives change over time.

I chuckle sometimes when my sister tells a story. We are 18 months apart, grew up in the same household, and shared many of the same experiences; however, when she tells a story her recollection is very different than mine. Sometimes, I place my hand over my chest and ask, was that your take away. Our personal experiences shape our narrative or how we see things. When we have moments of deja vu, we fall back on previous experiences. The baggage- whether positive or negative- are brought with us to the next experience.

Think about it this way:

During a department meeting, your supervisor asks you to work on a project. You hesitate because there are other people in the room who you feel are more qualified. With concern in your voice, you agree. For the next week, you work diligently on the assignment. You fight the feelings of self-doubt and fear. At the next staff meeting, your present your work. Using the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) technique, your colleagues were able to point out holes in your plan. You begin to sweat out of nervousness. Your thoughts are all over the place: I knew there were other qualified people. I am not as good as everyone else. You close your eyes hoping you would disappear. Your narrative: You are a failure.

The next time there is an assignment at work, you avoid it like the plague. Your confidence has dropped, you begin to second guess yourself, and productivity at work declines.

Although, the situation may have caused feelings of shame and incompetence, your narrative could be: I tried my best and like all projects it’s beneficial as a team to look for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before presenting it to other departments. What did your colleagues actually say versus what you assumed? No, one said you did a bad job. Your narrative: My work was a great start and my colleagues helped me approve it.

The next time, you will feel a little more confident to take on an assignment. You are more apt to take chances and seek feedback from others.

The beautiful part about life is we are authors over our own lives. If there is a narrative that needs to be rewritten, then you can do it. Grab paper and pencil and write down what occurred versus what you are telling yourself. Start retelling your story.

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