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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

photo of a window and a neon sign reading "what is your story?"
Photo Courtesy of Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

I was talking with a friend and colleague the other day, and he shared a personal experience with me that carried with it a profound message that we as leaders, and humans, need to keep in mind.


Picture of a person driving in a car, looking through the dashboard
Photo Courtesy of Dan Gold on Unsplash

The other day, while driving, my friend got stuck behind a very slow driver. He was running late for a meeting and began to grow increasingly frustrated at what he perceived as the other driver's carelessness and insensitivity. Trapped in this "parade," his anger started to boil.

But then, a simple and transformative thought struck him.


What if the slow driver was a parent with a sick and fussy child? Or perhaps it was someone unfamiliar with the area, nervous about making a wrong turn and being late for an important appointment? Maybe it was an elderly individual, driving at a pace they felt safest.

This shift in narrative helped my friend move past his anger, replacing it with empathy and understanding. He realized that holding onto his frustration wouldn't speed up traffic; it would only affect his state of mind and potentially ruin his day.


This experience highlights a crucial point for leaders: the stories we tell ourselves significantly impact our thoughts, emotions, and ultimately, our decisions and behaviors.

As leaders, we have a choice in how we make meaning within any situation we encounter. We can intentionally construct stories that foster peace, empathy, and clarity of thought, or we can cling to narratives that fuel anger, frustration, and negativity. I’m not talking about creating stories of over-hyped positivity or trying to deceive ourselves and others. I’m talking about stories that speak to "what else might be possible?", which actually clears a path to wisdom, discernment and constructive action with well-intended motive.

"What else might be possible?"


So take a moment and first recognize when you are telling yourself stories. And when you are, ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself about those challenging circumstances. Consider whether they are healthy and helpful, or if they are like drinking poison in the hope that someone else will get sick?

Quote that reads "recall that thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results. Everything begins with your thoughts." by T Harv Eker

By choosing to tell ourselves better stories about what’s possible and the difference we have the opportunity to make, we not only empower ourselves but also create a more positive environment for those around us.

Want support in writing or telling your own better story? Let’s talk! Together, we can unwind those harmful narratives and learn to develop new, truer narratives that empower and equip you to lead at your best...for impact rather than validation.

Mike Clouse, the Belie
Mike Clouse, The Belief Coach

Mike Clouse, The WeInspireWe Belief Coach, is a certified professional coach with double-digit years of experience in coaching, advising and mentoring others to step into full belief of themselves resulting in greater leadership and long-term potential.


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