What Story Do You Tell Yourself?

What stories do you tell yourself concerning your disappointments, failures and embarrassments? Were you the unfortunate victim of evil?

Perhaps it’s time you start telling different versions of those stories. Regret and fear are incapable of guiding you to Success.

The stories you tell yourself are the foundations of your self-image.

The first principle of self-deception is you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
— Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics

There are many ways in which the truth can be told.

If your story reveals you to be an unfortunate victim, you become an obstacle to your own success. But you are not a victim. Your experience proves only that you are resilient, resourceful and strong. You powered through.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Every day is a new opportunity to change your life. You have the power to say ‘This is not how my story ends.’
— Karen Salmansohn

In just 23 words Karen Salmansohn causes you to see yourself in an interesting duality of existence. You are (1.) a living character in a story that is being written, and (2.) you are the author of that story. Implicit in her statement is the unspoken question, “Have you decided what your character will do next?”

That’s a lot to convey in just 23 words, don’t you think?

Salmansohn doesn’t have to tell you that you have feelings and opinions and the power of choice. You already know these things. But she makes those big ideas spring to life using a tool I’ve decided to call reverse personification.

Personification gives human attributes to things that are not human. But you are human. Yet in just 23 words Salmansohn makes you an imaginary character who is brought to life and given the power to decide what happens next.

Arianna Huffington makes a similar observation.

Just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker.

What separates Salmonsohn’s 23 words from Huffington’s 11 is that Salmansohn makes you a character in a story while Huffington hands you the clicker to a television show called Life that is unfolding before your eyes.

Perspective – seeing through the eyes of another entity – is what gives personification its power.

Likewise, perspective is the essence of metaphor.

I urge you to experiment with personification and metaphor this week. They are powerful tools of persuasion.

Personification gives human attributes to things that are not human.
You can say, “It was hot outside,” or you can say, “The angry sun glared down at me.” Which one is more interesting?

Fifteen years ago a man wrote a radio ad in which the narrator described a suffocating, sticky, gummy feeling that is stripped away by a shower of hot water and cleansing soap, leaving him buoyant, bouncy, vibrant and clean, smelling good and feeling young again with all his natural color restored. He wrote that ad as a homework assignment during the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. He owned a carpet cleaning company in Canada. It wasn’t until the end of the ad that you realized the carpet was describing what it felt like to be cleaned. Personification. 

I’ve always wished I had kept a copy of that ad.

Metaphors use something as a symbol of something else.
In the Destinae trilogy I might have said, “The stars were reflected on the surface of the water,” but I chose to make the stars something other than reflections. “Bright stars danced on rippling waters, a thousand little fishes of light scurrying in a sea of darkness.”

“Stars danced” is personification.
“Little fishes of light” is a metaphor.

If you would become more persuasive, if you would make more sales, if you would hold the attention of your audience, experiment this week with personification and metaphor.

Like I said, it’s all a matter of perspective.

And perspective is a powerful thing.

Roy H. Williams