Real People, Real Stories of Personal Leadership
Listen Now to Just 1 Story
- Episode 1 – The Leaf Painters’ Sister – February 2, 2018
- Episode 2 – The Pay-It-Forward Mentor – March 16, 2018
I listen to National Public Radio for many of these stories. However, I have noticed they are often stories of well-known people, many of whom have been wildly successful in their lives. They are nice stories, but, frankly, I think they are lacking. The fame and success of these people often makes their stories unrelatable to the rest of us.
When I realized I did not have the “big voice” that was required for a career in radio, I turned to other interests. In time, my focus fell on studying and writing about leadership. I have also worked with individuals to help them develop their leadership capacity. In doing this work, I have been privileged to hear the stories of many everyday people who are living extraordinary lives out of public view. They are among the most inspirational stories I have ever heard because they are the stories of real people and their personal journeys of being greater, by doing good, everyday.
This podcast is dedicated to bringing forth those stories that deserve to be told and heard, yet usually remain untold because the storytellers are everyday people, not the rich, famous, or notorious.
Usually we think of leaders as having followers. In fact, there is something known as personal leadership – the leadership of oneself. An important task of leadership is sense making. Leaders of groups help the group make sense of their situation and use that information to determine what happens next. As the leaders of our own lives, each of us needs to make sense of it in order to know how we will live it as best we can. We reflect and develop descriptive mental models that help us understand who we are and how we became the people we are. These, in turn, inform and give us the prescriptive mental modelsthat guide how our lives unfold, including the work we undertake, and the causes we champion.
We may not even know that we are doing this reflective work. For some it is a gradual awareness of how they have become the people they are. Others have an “Aha!” moment that brings it all together quickly and they understand it clearly for the first time.
Allow me to give you an example…The defining story in my life centers on the birth story I was told by my mother. In fact, the story was an impossible one but it had a powerful impact on me. At a very formative time in my life, I embraced it as emotionally true though it was not factually true. As a result, it is the narrative that runs through every other story in my life. It has informed how I see myself, how I do my work, and how I form relationships. However, it has only been within the past decade or so that I have come to more fully understand how that story has guided my life. In a future podcast, I will share my defining story in greater detail.
The experience of living through the circumstances of our defining stories, whether factually true or not, can be described as a crucible experience because of how it affects us. A crucible experience is one that transforms us into the people we are today. Often crucibles can be difficult or challenging, yet they do not have to be at all. Still, a crucible changes us.
- It is the substance of the story of our life.
- It is the reason we can, or must, face every day that follows – no matter how difficult.
- It is the backstory, if you will, that explains who we are.
- It is the story – the narrative – that gives voice to the purpose and meaning of our life.
A crucible experience allows us to develop a story or narrative that helps us explain our life (descriptive mental model) and to know how to live going forward (prescriptive mental model). We use this information to lead ourselves to have the best life we can live. Crucible experiences help us lead the best lives we can today and everyday.
While there are many transforming experiences in our lives, I believe there is Just 1 Story – a central, single, defining, transformational crucible story – we each have. It is a story that is true for us, whether others agree with it or not, because it is our story. It underlies and runs through all the other stories we tell ourselves and others. This is the story to be told on this podcast.