Recently, I was asked for what felt like the thousandth (but was probably more like the millionth) time, “Whatever brought you to Ireland?”
The conversation had gone like it usually does. “And where are you from?” (It was, as it is often is, asked hesitantly because my slightly Irish accent confuses people, and they can’t decide whether I sound like I’m from Cork or if I sound different).
“I’m from Virginia.”
“In the States…. Like the song….” (A terrible reference to a song called “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which actually references West Virginia. But around here, people think of them as one in the same. I’m tired of fighting it.)
“Whoa. *laughs* Why did you come to Ireland?”
Now, I could have easily answered this with my deep personal philosophy about life, work, and travel, how it’s influenced my decisions and my career in different ways. I could have shared my belief in gut feelings, following your heart even if it sounds crazy and illogical, and just plain loving the idea of living in Ireland. In fact, that sort of answer could have been really satisfying to me.
But I didn’t share that.
Because that would have been weird.
And that’s definitely not what they wanted to hear.
(I’ve learned in life never to share your deep personal philosophies, religion, or hoodoo voodoo thoughts unless explicitly asked… or unless it’s going to help a friend through her own personal crisis for clarity.)
Instead of my philosophies or my bigger why, I shared my story.
[Tweet “Instead of my philosophies or my bigger WHY, I share my story @selahoud #insaneheart”]
“Well, I closed my eyes and pointed at a map, and I landed on Cork City.I first came to Cork as a study-abroad student, and I absolutely loved it. So when I decided to go back to graduate school, I came back here. It’s cheaper and faster to get your Masters in Ireland, and I loved Cork so much I couldn’t wait to come back.”
“You must love it, so.”
That’s what they were really asking. My story. And you can be sure that that story will have me sitting in their brain for a really long time.
Because stories are more memorable than philosophies.
Stories are more personable than philosophies.
And my story is completely unique and completely mine.
A couple of days later someone asked me what I do for a living. “So what are you up to these days?”
“I’m a writing and media coach for creatives and entrepreneurs. I work with content marketing and technology.”
“Whoa.” *confused look* “How’d you get into that?”
Well you can be sure as h-e-double hockey sticks I didn’t tell them my personal philosophies behind going into business. I didn’t give them a manifesto. I gave them a story.
I know it can be super tempting to try to detail your exact thoughts behind why you do whatever it is you do. Often this tempting need to share philosophies behind business is rooted in either being unclear about what exactly you’re doing or want to do or feeling somewhat self-doubtful and insecure in your business.
And more importantly, philosophies are a lot harder (and more boring) to follow than stories.
Stories demonstrate your uniqueness more than almost anything else in the world. They’re immediate, they’re personal and personable.
We all know and accept that I am and you are unique.
However, connecting with that uniqueness is a lot harder without stories.
Imagine going to a party to find a new friend the same way that you might have gone to the yellow pages to find a new business to hang out with. Everyone at the party is categorized before they go in, and you can walk around and pick up new friends quickly and easily based on easy categories and their offerings. But it isn’t until hearing their stories and how they share those stories that you know whether you’re actually going to be friends or not.
Business is the same.
I have been a freelancer for a few years now, and one of the biggest challenges of working in a solopreneur capacity – meaning I run my business efforts as a one-person shop – is working so closely with clients that didn’t fall in love with my brand and my business personality.
What inevitably ends up happening is the two of us strugglebus through our working relationship because we didn’t connect business-personality to business-personality.
If you believe that your business has a personality – and of course we all believe that your business has and should have a personality because that’s way more fun – then you need stories because stories make us who we are. They rack up inside our personalities, and they nearly explain our personalities.
So go ahead! Make stories out of your stories. Build your personality. Embrace your stories, and use them to exemplify your personality and your uniqueness. Relate. Be personable. Be awesome.
Over time, my story of moving to Ireland has shifted and changed and developed, and it has become such a personality-declaring “story” that I can whip it out at any turn. The story has been the basis not only of my personal journey, but also my professional journey, and it’s a huge part of my business personality as well.
Write your stories. Share them openly. Build your personality. Make it known. Have a conversation with other businesses, with other people. Let them know you and get to know them.
Stories will save you.
And stories will open you.
And stories will connect you to everyone else. Both in business and in life.
Stories are more powerful than philosophies. Stories are powerful.
Gather those moments that have changed you, the ones that have set you on your path, and get ready to share them. They are yours. They are unique. And they are powerful.
What’s your story? Share it in the comments below!
P.S. Has this inspired you? Share it with the world! You never know who you might inspire xx
And don’t forget to use the hashtag #insaneheart when sharing! I love reading your shares x
[Tweet “Stories over philosophies – in biz and life @selahoud #insaneheart”]
P.P.S. Want to work with me?
If you’re ready to gain some clarity around your creative business or improve your communication plan, take a look at my private coaching packages here!