I recently shared a brief life autobiography at my workplace as part of a team building and employee engagement emphasis at our monthly staff meeting. I was a bit apprehensive at the idea at first but once I prepared for it and wrapped my life into a few minutes of stories and presentation of pictures, the whole experience turned out to be quite enjoyable. This was partly due to the discussions and questions from others after hearing my story. My approach for the autobiography, was that I really wanted to present it in a way that showed some of my life lessons, not just a time line of events with pictures and I am happy I did because a number of people told me that was what they liked most about it.
The Story (not) Revealed
Since I thoroughly enjoy telling stories, I had a few to present from different times in my life. I used the techniques I wrote about here to capture the audience and I was able to stay quite excited and animated in the delivery of my presentation. I’m not actually going to share my autobiography here as that is far better suited in person than in written form. Instead, I’ll expand on the story of what I experienced and learned from doing it. Some of the topics I had in my autobiography, I wanted to ensure were new to people and unknown so they were either things from back in my past I haven’t shared much or things I haven’t told that many people at my work. This was a risk I wanted to take as I’ve learned that sharing more of my heartfelt opinions and beliefs is quite valuable for relationships. Let me expand on that…
Vulnerabilities Open Many Doors
I used to be a master at hiding things in my life and didn’t share my passions as I wanted to present myself as an indestructible, unemotional, untouchable guy. Well, I can now comfortably admit that isn’t true, I don’t give that impression nearly as much anymore (still working on that) and because of that I have seen many of my relationships develop simply by tearing down those false impressions and by sharing more truths about myself. These truths are obviously open to interpretation by others once revealed and once you share them, you no longer have any control over what they think. The audience can agree with them or not, like or dislike, change their impressions, have a new attitude because of them, etc, etc. All of these things are risky if you are concerned what others think of you. That is the key in sharing these vulnerabilities, you need to allow others to think what they want and NOT worry about what they think. Its important to build relationships on who you really are. If people use your stories against you or change their attitude or impression of you, you need to be OK with that. You should want people to accept you without making their own judgments anyway.
So, not only do others find out more about you, but they might also relate to your stories and be more willing to share there own experience or feelings on a topic. The more you know about a person, the easier it is to trust them as there are less unknowns and certainly less doubt about what they will do in certain circumstances. After all, not knowing that is exactly where mis-trust comes from. If you have no understanding of or experience in how a person will respond in a certain situation, it is difficult to trust them as you don’t really know what they will do or act in that situation. However, if you know more about how they act or respond in similar and other situations it is far easier to predict or expect a similar response, so there is more trust because of that knowledge.
Build Confidence With Your Vulnerabilities
Many times the fear of what others think is what holds people back from sharing anything. To turn this thinking around so it is less of a fear you need to re-frame your thoughts around sharing things. Consider some of the great things (these are just a few) from sharing these ‘risky’ topics, which may be good or bad experiences.
- Connect more with others who’ve had a similar experience
- Help others see and understand what made you who you are
- Teach some lesson or have a moral of the story
- Someone else may not make the same mistake as you
- Inspire others to do something similar from what you share
- You can feel relief by getting things off your back
- Difficult experiences will often lead to others having compassion for you
The more you expect and think these types of things will happen when you share the more comfortable you can be about sharing them. Then doing it will allow you to actually start to experience some of those things. That will build your confidence further and be encouraging to do it more and more. As you gain confidence to express more vulnerabilities, you will be more and more honest with yourself and with others and it will continue to get easier and be more valuable.
What About in Your Life?
How many times have you been willing to admit some embarrassing moment or stupid thing you have done only AFTER someone else admits they have done it before. Would you have dared to share it first? If not, why? Think about why hearing the story from someone else helped you to share yours immediately afterward. That’s because their vulnerability allowed you to trust them with your own story. Consider this in other areas and topics in your life, why not share first and open the door to better relationships, more trust with your friends and colleagues and comfort about yourself.
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