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Poised For Success – Crafting and Controlling Your Narrative

Poised For Success - Crafting and Controlling Your Narrative

Whether it’s your LinkedIn profile bio, presenting yourself and taking advantage of the purpose of a cover letter, your narrative – how you chose to describe yourself – is important to making a strong and lasting first impression. And we need to keep in mind: when it comes to making a first impression, we’ve only got one shot at it.

We can look at literature and story-telling to find insights into how to best construct a narrative for ourselves – what aspects to highlight and in what order. The same elements that comprise the narrative of a story’s protagonist can be used to form your own narrative. These elements elicit trust and confidence and have us invested in and rooting for the character can have the same effect on your colleagues, clients, investors, and recruiters and prospective employers.

In this short article, we’ll take a look at a few of the key elements that comprise a person’s narrative and how you can use them to your advantage. Forming a compelling narrative will help you be poised for success. Emphasizing and improving on these elements will give you the best chances of capitalizing on any opportunities that might come your way. This is the greatest predictor of success – putting yourself in position to take advantage of opportunities 

Networking – Constructing a Complimentary Narrative

Success, however you choose to define it, is not something you will be able to achieve on your own – nor would you want to. The challenges you overcome, the results you earn, will all come about as a result, more or less, of a collaboration of some kind. 

Therefore, much of what constitutes how to poise yourself for success centers around how you treat others, how you project yourself to others, and the relationships you are able to build.

A large portion of our interactions with others is transactional. This means that we interact with someone with the aim of obtaining something from them. There are varying degrees of what constitutes a transactional interaction. Some people even consider all interactions to be transactional. When you’re helping someone out, you expect to receive in exchange a good feeling about yourself, for example. 

That example may be carrying the idea a bit too far for our purposes, but it is worth noting that in you’re interaction with others, the person you are interacting with will have either the conscious or subconscious thought: “What am I going to get out of this interaction?” Bearing this in mind, the answer to that question should be apparent in your narrative.

Important Questions to Consider

What do your colleagues, clients, investors, or potential employers stand to gain by interacting with you?

Are these benefits apparent in your narrative?

Resilience and Persistence – Where Are the Obstacles in Your Narrative?

Every good narrative needs conflict or conflicts. It needs obstacles. And it is how the character overcomes these obstacles that keeps us interested in them and keeps us interested and invested in the narrative.

Too many business profiles and professional bios lack in this key component. Simply stating the result – “I am the founder of a Fortune 500 company” – is far less compelling than highlighting the conflict and obstacles that were overcome. 

“I took a small company set for bankruptcy in the face of rising costs of raw materials and turned it into a Fortune 500 company.” This narrative has conflict and obstacles. It is far more compelling, and it can speak to someone who may be facing or fearing similar obstacles.

Important Questions to Consider

What obstacles have you overcome that have led you to where you are today?

Are those obstacles and how you overcame them present in your narrative?

Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

Think of any hero in any story. They all have something in common. Their success directly leads to the betterment of the people around them. Without this crucial element, the character is not a hero, just a successful person and far less compelling.

On the other hand, any hero in any story achieved their success with the help or intervention of someone else. Both the hero and the secondary character are far better off because they interacted with each other. This is a crucial element to any compelling narrative. Their interaction equates to something that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Compare the two narratives:

“I run a trucking service that employs 60 people.”

Or

“I run a trucking service that employs 60 people among which 4 in upper management promoted from within thanks in part to my tutelage.”

It’s quite obvious which of the 2 narratives is the more compelling. It’s also quite obvious in which of the 2 narratives we get a better understanding of how interacting with that person could lead to a better situation. 

Important Questions to Consider

What interactions have you been involved in that have led to all parties becoming greater than the sum of their parts?

Are those interactions present in your narrative?

Is it clear how your involvement benefited those around you?

The Bottom Line

Be the hero of your narrative. In order to successfully accomplish that, you will need to include the characteristics of a hero – the hero faced obstacles and overcame them; and those around the hero or who interacted with the hero are far better off for doing so.

Keeping these key elements in mind should help you to form a more compelling narrative that you will use in your social media profiles and posts and in your communications with colleagues, clients, investors, and potential employers.

Remember: those who interact with you will be expecting to benefit from that interaction. In your narrative, those benefits don’t need to be overtly stated, but they do, at least, need to be easily inferred. 

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