Have you ever experienced a trip to your homeplace with memories and find out there is more to your story than you remembered? What is the significance of sharing your story and how does it relate to leadership? I notice when in communication with others, people pull out their phones and share pictures or stories that are funny, dramatic or inspirational. Stories are how we connect with others and most people don’t want to sit and hear about statistics and charts. Recently, traveling to visit my 93-year-old stepdad at our homeplace in the Midwest who raised four “little women” on a farm, I became aware of the story he is still writing while living his life with intention. We shared stories, pictures and events ranging from his service in the Korean War to his most recent move to a townhome from the family farm. He has lived an awesome life and this poem from Edwin Markham summarizes what I witnessed:
There is a destiny that makes us brothers
None goes his way alone.
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.
The benefits of living a purpose driven life are written in John Maxwell’s book Intentional Living. Much of what John mentions in his book was validated for me while I visited my dad. When you take responsibility for your story and intentionally live a life of significance, here are some of the benefits:
You will reaffirm your values. Acting on what you value will clarify those values and make them a permanent priority in your personal and work life. Life on the farm was hard work and yet I have seen the rewards of their labor my parents enjoyed as they raised crops while weathering the storms of life physically and financially. Their values of honesty, solid work ethics and seeing the value in others, was an investment that has paid dividends yet today. My dad is resourceful and engaging and he continues to attract resources to assist him now that his eyesight is fading. I have observed how others want to serve him well because he recognizes their value.
You will find your voice. We all want our stories to matter and recently while answering questions for my story to be printed as a legacy gift, I found my voice and it brought special connection with my father who wasn’t always present emotionally or physically growing up. It became evident that his leadership principles were passed on as I apply them in my entrepreneurial and educational experience.
You will develop your character. John Maxwell shares that passive people allow their character to be influenced by others. Active people struggle to form and maintain their character. They grow and develop because of that struggle. As a leader of our family, my father served our country well in the Korean War before he married my mom, a widow with two young girls. They worked hard to buy land during tough economic times while adding value to their family and the employees they hired when taking risks to start a new agricultural business. They demonstrated through their actions that significance is messy, inconvenient, overwhelming and full of disappointments yet they were resilient and persevered. These character traits are acquired by taking action and moving forward.
You will experience inner fulfillment. This is found when your actions, vision and passion are aligned with your true identity. Viktor Frankl said, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein, he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” My dad honored his commitment in marriage with my mom for better or worse as he provided assistance during her five years of Parkinson’s before she died. While it was a hard journey, he can admit today that he may not have done it perfectly but he was grateful that he could serve her at home during her medical hardship.
In summary, what holds you back from writing your story? You can start today by creating a list of every memorable moment—the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t worry about the how, just jot notes and memories as they come to mind. Be careful about allowing fears or perfectionism from holding you back. You can make a difference by sharing life principles with others and you may even discover the character traits you have developed through these experiences. At Alloy Solutions, we offer tools and assessments to help discover your why, strengths, resilience and work styles so you, too, can share “your story” for intentional living.