Rewrite Your Story

Written by Cindy Leavitt

Person writing on a notebook by the windowsillWe all have a story to tell, whether in our personal or professional lives. How we tell our story is crucial to achieving our goals.

It is important to recognize that our emotions and our stories are linked. We have the ability to change our stories which means we can change our emotions about those stories as well. When we rewrite our stories in a positive way, we change our feelings and our behaviors for the better, creating a more productive roadmap toward our goals.

As part of our second leadership training last week, each participant was asked to identify two leadership opportunitiesAfter identifying their opportunities, we had each participant write their current story around one of their opportunities. I asked each participant to rank their story on the Fear to Freedom scale and write two adjectives that describe their feelings about their story. The most common descriptors of the current stories were frustrated, anxiousstuck, overwhelmedexhausted, ineffective and nervous. 

Then each participant rewrote their story describing the best possible outcome they could imagine around their leadership challenge using the following Written Positive Intention rules. 

  • It is written in past tense (as if it has already happened). 
  • It is written in all positive terms. 
  • It should be hand-written, not typed, if possible. 
  • It identifies the most exceptional outcome you can imagine. 
  • It focuses on how you and others feel about the outcome and the impact you can have if you achieve your positive outcome. 
  • It is always a draft. Modify it over time. Write several versions to identify when your intention is based of fear, which may mean it is self-focused or your ego is showing up. 

The change in each participant’s feelings concerning their leadership opportunity was remarkable. After discussing in small groups how rewriting their stories affected their emotions, I asked participants to share what they learned from the experience. Here are a few of the remarks:

  • “My fear and anxiety are the barrier and that I can control. 
  • “This is a tool that can help us frame our thoughts to achieve the results we want. 
  • “Just doing this exercise helped me feel more powerful over the challenge.” 
  • “It really helped me to clarify the specific barriers and hurdles that are making me feel stuckbut also made me see the large number of variables to think through to get to that positive story.” 

We all face leadership opportunities every day. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stuck, I would invite you to use the Written Positive Intention rules and rewrite your story.