How satisfying is your story?

June 22nd, 2012

One of the first things clients want to share with me is their “situational analysis.” And often that means complaints, or dissatisfaction with the way something is going currently with their work or within their company. I listen intently. I ask questions. I get at limiting beliefs. And then I ask the pivotal question: How are they wanting things to be. That’s where the shift of focused thought – of their energy – begins the process to create a better and more satisfying story. In other words, if you want change, start telling a different story.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter sums up the same idea with the first line of her blog post last week on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network: “If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.” Kanter, a tenured professor in business at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change, says leaders can motivate change by creating a new narrative that shows how success will be achieved and draws on the elements already in place to get there.

She gives some great examples of narrative re-writes that illustrate what she calls “kaleidoscope thinking,” her metaphor for shaking up and re-arranging current patterns of thought to create newer, more fulfilling, more successful possibilities. In her words, “the metaphor suggests that reality is not necessarily fixed.”

This short piece boldly and, I think brilliantly, states that limiting narratives of individuals and organizations can and should be rewritten.

Possibilities are limited only by story we’re telling. So if you don’t like your present story, allow yourself to focus on the positive results you want, and let the rewrite that leads to inspired action begin.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos


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2 Responses to “How satisfying is your story?”

  1. mark mulhern says:

    This is interesting, and I think that if this rewrite is honestly connected to what you want, it would help to change one’s focus. I keep reading and noticing that what we focus on seems to expand or at least take up more space in consciousness. When I focus on what isn’t working or what isn’t in place, it tends to become a sort of climate of frustration. I suspect doing I rewrite may feel like a total fiction, at least at first…

  2. Julie Tarney says:

    Thanks for your great comment, Mark. I may sound like a broken record here, but you do get want you think about, whether it’s something you want or not. Concentrating on what isn’t working or isn’t yet in place restricts your energy from creating (expanding) what it is you do want. Feeling frustrated is simply evidence that you’re not focused on your improved, more satisfying story. A shift in the way one thinks takes practice. Being aware of your thoughts and what suggestions you give yourself throughout the day give you a point from which to pivot your focus. Your inner consciousness really does do all the work. I’m sure you can think of many reasons that support an easy transition from fiction to non-fiction. Have some fun with it!