Creating Your Career:
Owning Your Story
By S. Alyssa Preston, Ph.D.
“You either walk inside your story and own it,
or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
When Dr. Brené Brown gave her TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability,” a steady rebellion ensued.
People from all walks of life and professional backgrounds began to take stock. Investment portfolios and resumes were weighed. Authenticity buoyed to the surface as a pivotal evaluative measure of a person and their relationships. Priorities were challenged. Vulnerability became chic. People came unglued.
The idea of being vulnerable and unapologetically owning “your story” created a groundswell of conversations from board rooms to churches to yoga studios. Amidst the Instagram quotables and memorable hashtags, book clubs and interviews, a new bravery emerged.
This bravery is not the stuff of epic novels or films. Instead, it’s the nuanced bravery borne in the often uncomfortable space of owning the choices that define a life rather than excusing them. This real-life bravery is not only forged in the crucible of cubicles and classrooms, but also in adventures, relationships, and the moments that imprint a soul. It’s the bravery of becoming who you are meant to be and it can only come from walking inside your story and owning it.
If “your story” was a category on your resume, could you write it today?
Would you be found within your story or on the outside looking in?
The key to your story is owning yourself well enough to know what you want. Shakespeare wrote in Act 1 of “Hamlet”: This above all—to thine own self be true. A more recent example of this challenge comes from Rafiki in Disney’s “The Lion King” as he says to Simba, The question is: Who are you?
If you have considered Shakespeare’s words or Rafiki’s question, you are not alone. Owning your story is a process that begins with the uncomfortable posture of inward reflection. In other words, you have to come clean with yourself and own the person you are today. Forward movement can only begin with the present action of knowing where you are in your own story.
As you evaluate your place in your story, here are five practical starting points to guide you:
1. Survey your past. What stands out?
2. Talk to your people. What do others have to say?
3. Observe the pattern. What “themes” keep emerging?
4. Rank your priorities. What matters most?
5. Yoke to a purpose. What compels you?
Remember, it’s never too late to be brave. Becoming brave isn’t comfortable; it’s courageous. To walk inside your story is to join the rebellion of those who have embraced a new brave world.
This article originally appeared in the spring 2017 issue of HONORS Magazine.
Dr. S. Alyssa Preston is Founder and Principal Communication Architect for SAGE, LLC. Her work focuses on values-based identity and brand development, organizational strategy, and consultation in the area of professional and organizational leadership. Dr. Preston was inducted as a BGS Chapter Honoree by The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
PICTURED: Dr. Preston speaking at the 2016 Global Leadership Summit.