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Your Story Is Your Power

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“That story with all the highs and lows – what seems so ordinary – what seems like nothing to you – that’s your power.” – Michelle Obama

My husband was watching Michelle Obama’s documentary Becoming last night. I walked in the bedroom after my massage and he said, “I know you’re the one who gets weepy during movies, but I keep tearing up. This is so good!”

He rewound it to a part he wanted me to watch. Girls from a high school were chosen to have a discussion with Michelle. Many of them had asked “why me?”. One girl said she didn’t have high SAT scores and wasn’t in all the clubs like the other senior girls. She was happy to just get to school and go to one club after school before she went to work.

When Michelle asked her why she had to work, she shared how her dad was in an accident and it would make him happy to know she was helping. This senior was helping support her three little brothers because her family needed food on the table.

Michelle’s response: “And she wonders why she’s here. That story with all the highs and lows – what seems so ordinary – what seems like nothing to you – that’s your power.”

Your story is your power

Isn’t it interesting how we judge our own stories when others are captivated by them?

This morning I got up at 5:15am because something was rattling around in my brain asking for me to let it out. (Spoiler alert: it was this blog post.) So, I walked into the kitchen and started the water for coffee. My husband and I have had every coffee maker humans could have since we got together. French press, Keurig, Nespresso, Breville, and now pour-over coffee. We still own most of them but they’ve either been shipped back to the wrong place or are in storage.

This newest way of making coffee has become a meditation each morning. It’s not a bleary-eyed ‘plug in and start’ kind of deal. I have to be intentional. I grind the beans, fill the kettle with filtered water, then slowly pour the hot water over the coffee grounds so it drips into the glass carafe. Although I wish it was quick and easy, it’s a soothing way to start the day.

As I started pouring today, I downloaded TikTok. It’s official – I have shared my first one (username: melaniespringspeaker)! Sure, it took me 30 minutes to make the coffee and the video, but I did it. And even went back into the archives of my brain to come up with TLC’s Diggin’ On You for the tune. (Oh, those high school vibes.)

This little video reel is part of my everyday story. It’s a little glimpse into my morning routine. And it’s not going to change anyone’s life. If I really look at it, there’s honestly no real reason to share it. It just felt so peaceful to me to pour the water over the coffee.

AND YET – there’s always someone who reaches out later and reminds me that the little glimpses into my humanity are what make them feel connected to me. My morning hair. My coffee mug. My face sans makeup. Where I’m sitting. What I’m working on. The mundane. The everyday.

As I sit here drinking this everyday delicious coffee, I thank my stars that I can wake up and make my coffee and decide how my day will go. I decide because I work for myself. And have been for more than half my career now.

You see, 12 years ago my boss asked me what I would do if he couldn’t pay me anymore. “I’d work for myself” was my answer. He gave me 30 days and on April 1, 2009, I started this entrepreneurial adventure. The adventure that would become a branding agency, land me in Entrepreneur Magazine, and then on stages around the world.

That’s my everyday entrepreneurial story – a simple question and answer that changed the course of my life and my career. I’ve had to learn more about myself as a person, as a leader, as a boss, and as a woman because of this journey (oof, SO much learning & growing.) I could easily go back and start judging myself for all of it (and I have before), yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let me say that again a different way – MY STORY IS MY POWER!

If I didn’t share my ups and downs with you in my posts, on social media, and in my talks, you wouldn’t feel connected to me. If I only shared the highlight reel – the best parts – you would look at my life and think “wow, she’s got her shit together – why would I bother sharing my story with her?”

It’s in MY story that you might find yours.

My family moved 17 times before I was 11 (and no, we’re not military.) I went to 3 colleges in 4 years to get my degree by 21. I got married at 23 & divorced by 24, bought a house at 25 and lost it when the market crashed when I was 28, lost my job and started my business when I was 28, quit my branding agency when I was 36 to start a full-time speaking career while accidentally starting a speaker training program, then manifested meeting my husband just before 37 living in 4 different states in under 4 years of being together.

That’s the SUPER quick and dirty – but you get my point.

My story is not epic. There’s lots of interesting things that have happened along the way, but I’m a healthy human being with all my limbs who has had my fair share of ups and downs. That’s it. I’ve been through really rough patches and am still standing here to tell you about them. I consider that a win.

My story is my power. The everyday mundane parts of it are more powerful than any epic stuff that could have happened. Because that’s where we connect as humans.

Over the last 4 years, I’ve hosted a retreat called SPEAK With Confidence. It’s an event where humans get together and learn how to give a talk on a stage. It’s a safe space to share their stories without judgment. To get feedback and support as they become more confident with sharing themselves with others.

The biggest challenge I’ve seen my Rockstars (that’s what we call our speakers) face is their own self-judgment. The judgment of their stories or how they tell them. The judgment of their ticks – how they move their hands, what they say, how they fill pauses when they can’t think of what to say. The judgment of how they are not enough or their stories aren’t epic enough.

We worry that others will judge us, yet we’re the most judge-y of ourselves.

In May of 2021, I’m hosting our very last SPEAK With Confidence Retreat. (Yes, this is the official announcement – so if you’ve ever wanted to attend, this is your sign.)

Since starting this retreat, I’ve heard stories that range from the most epic to the most mundane. I’ve seen powerful people crumble when they talk about their pain. I’ve seen the quietest people become the loudest. I’ve watched people lie to themselves on stage – and then find their own deeper truth. I’ve witnessed healing and many, many tears. I’ve had people go home and blow up their whole lives. I’ve seen self-doubt and judgment leave because of the support of other humans. And I’ve seen some of the deepest bonds created between strangers.

My biggest takeaway from all of it? The everyday stories are the most powerful. They are what connect us.

My story is my power.
Your story is YOUR power.

Sure, we worry what others will think of us when we are sharing. Or what happens if we trip walking up on stage. Or what we’ll do if we forget what we practiced. Yet we can go back to remembering that our story is our power and someone needs to hear what we have to say.

YOU are the biggest reason you’re not sharing your story.
YOU are the most judgmental of yourself and your story.
YOU are the only thing holding you back from making an impact.

You don’t have to have an epic story to change the world. Your everyday story is your power.

Don’t wait for the question that could change everything. Choose to share your everyday.