On Sharing Your Everyday Story
“Life is a concept, like the “universe”, that expands as soon as we reach what we think is its edge.” – Kamand Kojouri
Have you ever played the game, Two Truths & A Lie? It’s a game where you share three things about yourself – two are true and one is a lie. Those listening have to guess which one is the lie.
Two Truths & A Lie is a get-to-know-you game that allows people to learn more about your fun side. You’re supposed to share things that don’t seem like you – or things that seem off-the-wall. When you share, you’re supposed to make it hard for people to guess your lie.
I was chatting with my mom recently about this game and she laughed. She told me that I would be a hard person to guess about because I’d done so many epic things.
I looked at her sideways, not being able to think of one, and asked, “like what?”
That’s when she gave me the list:
- I’m scared of heights, yet I still jumped out of an airplane
- I have given keynotes on three continents
- I went on a tour of the West Wing of the White House
- I drove 7000 miles in three weeks around the US by myself
- I have a picture of me with my arm around President Obama (yes, in real life)
- I’ve been caught by a trapeze artist while swinging from a flying trapeze (while still being afraid of heights)
- I’ve given a talk in Times Square
- I lived in my office & showered at the gym by choice for 18 months
- The ballgown I wore at Ball On The Mall is now owned & worn by a bearded drag queen
- I’ve moved more than 40 times in my lifetime (16 before I was 8)
- I started my business because my boss asked me what I would do if he couldn’t pay me anymore
- I’m afraid of the water, yet I’ve surfed in Bali & Costa Rica
- I was the receptionist for West Marine HQ in Watsonville, CA (it was a temp job)
- I bought a house so my dog could have a back yard
- I got the first entrepreneurial scholarship at my college
- I eloped at Lake Tahoe the first time I got married
- I ran the real estate section of a newspaper in Santa Cruz
- I ran a race up a volcano in Hawaii (Ragnar!)
- I traveled solo for three weeks through Scandinavia with no itinerary
- I quit my successful business to do what I loved instead
- I’ve gotten tattoos in 4 different countries
- …and a whole bunch of other things I’ve since forgotten.
Every one of those is true. (I guess I’ll have to come up with a lie that I can then turn into another truth.)
After hearing that list, I have to say that it’s fascinating to see my life through other people’s eyes. Sure, many people have done more, bigger, crazier things – but even my mom thinks I’ve had a pretty amazing life. And I have! Especially since I know how much I’ve had to move through fear to do most of these things. I’ve had to find my new edge over and over.
You’re probably thinking that this is just how I’m built. But it’s REALLY not.
I’m built of everyday stories. The epic stuff I’ve done actually comes out of the everyday stuff I’m afraid of.
You may not know this about me, but I’ve been afraid or uninterested in most things my whole life for various reasons. Here are some other things that are also true about me:
- I hated getting dirty as a kid, so I just kept myself clean (my mom loved that)
- I (still) hate touching creepy things, so I don’t fish, touch worms or frogs, and hate seeing pictures of snakes
- I never wanted kids, so when I got divorced the first time, I stayed unmarried for more than 15 years
- I didn’t like working for other people, so I started my own business
- I had asthmatic bronchitis my whole childhood, so I was afraid to work out in any way until I was 26
- I’m terrified of heights, the water, and getting into car accidents
- I imagine dying at least once a day (no, I’m not being morbid, I just have a wild imagination)
- I didn’t really like people, so I learned how to enjoy time with myself
- I didn’t like the outdoors most of my life, so I stayed in my room as much as possible
- I am my dog’s comfort animal as much as he is mine
- I was very much an introvert my whole life, so I always had a side hustle to keep me busy after work
- I don’t like learning public transportation routes, so I tend to walk every city I’ve ever visited
- I’ve tripped & fallen so many times running that I finally stopped running altogether
- I judge myself hard when I’m in a workout class or doing yoga next to other people so I don’t do classes
- I hate moving, despite having moved more than 40 times
It takes a LOT for me to want to push my edge. But when I finally do push it, I go all the way. No holds barred.
Knowing what I don’t like or what scares me or even what makes me uncomfortable is typically where I find my edge. It helps me understand myself better – and gives me the room to go bigger. And then I’m always amazed at what my new edge looks like.
The same edge goes for our stories.
During every interview, podcast, and conversation I have about story, I’m inevitably asked,
“What’s one thing someone can do to get over the fear of sharing their story?”
My answer: Share one story – one tiny little story – with one person.
When you share one story, you open yourself up to sharing another story. That first story can be a simple, non-vulnerable story. And it can be told to a total stranger sitting next to you (ok, 6′ away from you) at a coffee shop. Here are some ideas of things to share:
- your favorite coffee order
- why you enjoy that coffee shop
- your most recent trip
- the contents of the book you’re reading
- a project you’re working on
- the last conversation you had
- the last decision you made
- why you bought your car
- why you started your business
And then ask them to share in return: “What about you/yours?” – and listen intently to their answer without trying to come up with another story. (It’s amazing how much we can learn about our own stories from truly listening to others.)
The biggest reason it’s hard for people to share their own stories is the same reason it’s hard for people to come up with two truths and a lie. We think we have to come up with epic stuff in order for people to get something from our stories – when in reality, the everyday stuff is the most compelling AND engaging.
With two truths and a lie, if I told three everyday things about me, it would be hard to guess. Try it.
– I think toilet paper should be pulled from the top.
– I don’t like garlic.
– I can’t wear flip flops.
Answer: I love garlic, so that’s the lie.
That’s tougher than if I told you two epic things from the list above with another epic thing as a lie.
Now think about your story – your everyday story.
When you share an everyday story that relates to someone else’s story, you connect yourself to them. They feel like they know you better – because they don’t need to be impressed by your story to learn about you. And your story will make them think of their own story to share in return.
Everyday stories are most important because every one of us has everyday stories. It’s not a competition about who has the most epic stories. Your everyday story will inevitably open the door for their story to come out.
It took me a long time to share everyday stories AND epic stories. It took one step at a time for me to get to the point that I could write a bulleted list of things I am afraid of or uninterested in. The epic stuff I’ve done is easy – almost forgettable. The everyday stories – the relatable ones – are the ones we remember the most.
Start with one simple story that allows you to take the leap into sharing.
Then share another.
Get more and more comfortable sharing your stories until you find your new edge.
Then keep going.
It takes time to get super vulnerable with our stories. And there’s no limit to how deep and vulnerable you can go, although there are boundaries (but that’s for another time.)
Take ONE step. Out of fear, out of the airplane, into the water, or off the platform of a flying trapeze.
Take ONE step. With one everyday story. One little teeny tiny story that connects you to another human being.