Decades of experience growing a high-performing team in corporate America has to count for something. All of the ideas, proposals, product launches, failures, and rousing successes have not only added to your resume of accomplishments, they’ve multiplied your attractor factor.
You’re a rock star! Okay, let’s just say you’ve made your mark.
So, how many times do you need to hear someone tell you that you made a difference in their life? How often should you see someone inspired to take action, or saved from destruction, or moved to realize a sought-after truth before the lightbulb above your head turns on and you realize that there’s something valuable in the knowledge you have?
Rena Kilgannon understood her impact when she approached me several years ago to help put her thirty years of knowledge in the advertising industry into a book. She wanted to share her story of starting, growing, and selling a successful advertising firm and the lessons she learned along the way, She knew women at all points in their careers — whether corporate executives, mid-level employees, or budding entrepreneurs — could glean some knowledge and inspiration from her story. She valued the lessons she’d learned along the way and she wanted to impart those valuable intellectual gems into the minds of others on a similar pathway as she had traveled.
The result was her amazing book, What’s the Worst That Could Happen? How women entrepreneurs succeed: They ask, risk, and put it all on the line (Kilgannon Group, LLC, 2014).
You know stuff — lots of stuff — and when you share it with others, it impacts them (and you) in more ways than you’ll likely ever realize. But if you don’t value your own story — your ups, downs, lessons learned, and multi-million dollar ideas — you’ll keep it all to yourself.
“Who cares what I have to say?” might sound like a flippant reprieve to avoid what your gut is calling you to do.
“I haven’t done anything special” could be your martyr-like mantra disguised as a humble response to the calls for you to share your story.
But in the end, these are only avoidance tactics. Because if you’ve made it to the finish line of your career and you haven’t learned a single thing that could help someone else — not a solitary action that stands as a defining moment, decision, or action in your life — then maybe, just maybe you should keep the light on in your corner office for a few more years until you’ve built the reputation to retire with a gold medal of pride, rather than a mere blue ribbon of having done the job and finished the race.
Your story is your connection to others as you move on to the next phase of your life. It profiles your character, establishes your expertise, makes you relatable, and keeps you relevant. Your story is your legacy. Tell it well and theyʼll remember you. Keep it to yourself and you’ll become yet another among the forgotten ones.
What’s your choice?
Anita R. Henderson is president of The Write Image, LLC and creator of the Write Your Life Coaching Program. Her work with professionals and entrepreneurs has resulted in multiple award-winning books and has helped authors grow their media and online visibility, speaker platforms, industry credibility, and overall confidence in their ability to write a compelling, high-quality book and leverage it in their business or career.