I recently watched the video of Bruce Springsteen‘s Broadway show.
Springsteen is a master storyteller, and an incredible songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. His music and his narrative move me from the tips of my heels to the top of my head, much like cycling does.
His show, like his autobiography, Born to Run, reflects that he came from little means. But that didn’t stop him. When he didn’t have money to buy a guitar, he rented one. When he didn’t have a whole lot of encouragement, he manifested it all himself. Bruce wanted to play the guitar–and be the best guitar player ever.
He refused to make excuses about why he couldn’t do it.
He never adopted a victim mentality.
Instead, he learned, worked hard and improved.
All the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
He was committed.
Bruce Springsteen wrote his own story that fueled his success.
Stories have that much power.
They are the reason we build relationships, speak up or see our potential. And sometimes, they are the reason we fail to do anything at all.
How Stories Keep us Trapped
I’ve worked with countless leaders who’ve let their stories run their lives. All because somebody or some circumstance planted a seed a long time ago. Someone told them they couldn’t do it. They weren’t enough. They couldn’t make money. They didn’t have what it took. And that story mingled with their identity for decades.
Stories become hard-wired beliefs.
As leaders, we are constantly telling ourselves stories about others–most poignantly our employees. Some are true and stem from actual experience. Others are false and stem from our perception, someone else’s judgment, a one-time incident or a credential that we’ve categorically qualified or disqualified. And those stories often create communication barriers before an interaction even begins. They impact careers.
Changing the Story
Here’s the good news. We have the power to edit every story we tell and what we believe. We have the power to hold them tight or let them go. We also have the talent to rewrite them. We can work slowly, over time, at understanding and changing the stories in our head.
What story are you holding onto? What belief came from that story? Is it true? How could your story launch you forward? How can you change that story for more success? For you and others?