Our stories are our lives
COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio (The Philippine Star) - December 23, 2013 - 12:00am

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. —Maya Angelou

We hear and see stories everywhere. We live and breathe them. The way we move our body tells a narrative. The grin or grimace on our faces gives an account of our attitude and feelings. Our shoulders pushed back in self-assurance or slumped in desolation, the sparkle or tiredness in our work, the glitter of anticipation and happiness in our eyes or the empty gaze, our health and our wealth — our presentation on the whole — are all parts of our story.

In his innovative book The Power of Story, Dr. Jim Loehr looks at the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves and the manner we can alter those stories to change our businesses and our lives. 
As Loehr enthused, “Our stories are our lives.” It’s a fascinating metaphor given that most literary works typically revolve around characters and their beings. We are either scripting a larger-than-life tale with our everyday exploits, or living simple lives and thus writing brief short stories sans any clear plots and character buildups.

“As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime,”
 Loehr elucidates. “We have stories about our work, our families and relationships, our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.”

The tome outlines the following principles, which we can follow and apply to live a fuller life and achieve success.

• We are all cruise missiles launched at birth, with no destination or target in mind. For the uninformed, cruise missiles are fundamentally directed missiles with the potential to flow appropriately towards their targets. It is up to us to establish through our missions, our goals and our daily actions whether we determine a route that we are aiming for, or if we’ll simply be ablaze via our fuel and fall to the ground.

• All of us have an ultimate mission. It is the purpose of our lives. It’s what we dream about when we turn off the room lights, hit our beds and sleep at night. It’s also what makes us keyed up to leap out of bed in the morning. We may not be big fans of the drivel that people like to toss around nowadays, but having a sense of mission and purpose will help us really focus on what is important in life by cutting away all the trivialities.

• What we tell ourselves about our individual lives is either truth or fiction. Most people borrow stories and assumptions to apply to their own lives from fiction — literature, TV soaps, stories from friends and news features, among others. There are common themes to these stories: redemption, contamination and conspiracy, but none of these themes are the truth. The reality about our lives contains both the positive and negative. It is the consequence of the actions and decisions we make on a daily basis. The fiction that we tell ourselves about our life stories doesn’t come from us. It comes from the media, our faith, society and educational systems. None of those ideas were originally ours. They were passed on to us from somewhere else … and we made the decision to take them on.

• The key to almost all our problems is faulty storytelling. Since storytelling drives the way we gather and spend our energy, we need to constantly infuse our personal story with new thinking and new energy in order to bring about sustained shifts in happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, joy and inspiration.

• There are three components in our story: ultimate purpose, honesty and action.  Purpose is our mission, honesty is what we want truthfully written in our epitaph, and action is what we will do to make things better, to eliminate habits that do not fit with our purpose, and to acquire the habits we need in order to accomplish our purpose. We will only have successful stories when we take charge to make them so.

• We must learn to manage our energy with great precision and skill. That can allow us to achieve great success in both our professional and personal lives, According to Loehr’s own statistics, 33 percent of the executives that come to his workshops report that their current life story is stagnant, 26 percent report that their life story is confusing and disconnected, 15 percent report their life story is sad and depressing, and only 28 percent report that their life story is exciting and hopeful. His clients report significant changes in these areas as a result of the interventions that they go through in the training.

• Multi-tasking dumbs us down and sends a tragic message in human relations. The fact is, human beings cannot split their focus. The human energy system is binary. We are either focusing on something or we’re not. It is a complete misnomer that human beings must multi-task to achieve extraordinary results in today’s business world. The reality is just the opposite. Multi-tasking is the enemy of extraordinary. One is much more likely to make mistakes when one is trying to focus on more than one thing at a time.

• Our inner voice is the master storyteller. We need to consciously work to ensure our public and private voices are aligned with each other. Aligning one’s private voice with one’s public voice is the basis for authenticity. The end result is sincerity and genuineness. When one’s public voice and private voice are completely aligned with the mission at hand, a powerful sense of alignment and congruence are inevitably experienced. That is what’s meant by one’s power being breathtaking and nuclear.

• Our pre-existing values and beliefs help us to form, modify, alter and distort our sensory experience. The comment “It’s my story and I’m sticking to it” simply acknowledges how resistant we often are to change. We become defensive when our logic and thinking are challenged. We often hold onto a story that is dysfunctional simply because it’s familiar and it’s easier to stay with than to work to create a new one.

• If we let nature take its course, we will lose the ability to produce extraordinary energy by age 40. Thus, we must eat “strategically,” get regular exercise, move at regular intervals if we have sedentary jobs, and get adequate amounts of rest and sleep. Health requires movement and intense movement helps the body adapt to a number of stressful environmental influences. Lack of physical action combined with poor nutrition — particularly not having breakfast and consuming large meals high in fat and simple sugars — creates the perfect storm in the human body.

Telling ourselves stories gives us organization and traction as we steer life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us translate our goals and skills. Stories make sense of confusion. They put in order our many different experiences into a coherent strand, and form our whole reality. But of all the stories we’ve heard, the story of Christmas is perhaps the most powerful. It gives a biblical account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind.

* * *

E-mail bongosorio@yahoo.com or bong_osorio@abs-cbn.com for comments, questions or suggestions. Thank you for communicating.

AS LOEHR DR. JIM LOEHR LIFE LIVES ONE STORIES STORY
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