One day, sitting in my high school classroom, the teacher walked over and handed me a note that changed my life.
I had no idea the way in which this one life event would lead to what feels like a totally unexpected life mission. Yet, I can also feel how this work and this message is what I've been moving toward my entire life, from long before that heartbreaking day in my high school classroom.
You have a story that feeds your mission. If your sweet human brain is like so many people I work with, it tells you sometimes (maybe often) that your story isn't important enough, it's not powerful enough… maybe that you're not “over it” enough to make a difference through sharing your story.
My brain tells me this, too, sometimes.
The only difference now is I don't listen to it most of the time. I don't let it mean much in my world what my brain is trying to tell me.
Because I'm on a mission to serve with this message and my own story. You are too.
In this week's video, I answer the question I hear so often: How do I know if my story is important enough to share in my speaking?
May it serve you and your powerful message and thought leadership well, my friend ❤️
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hey there, I'm Michelle Barry Franco. I'm sure you've heard that you're supposed to share your own personal stories in your speaking and thought leadership so that you can make the biggest difference with your message, so you can really get people's attention and make that strong, powerful human connection, and yet, if you're like so many people I hear from, you might also wonder, “How do I know if my story is powerful enough? Is the story that I have to tell the kind of story that motivates people to action that really makes a difference?”
When I was 16 years old, I was sitting in my classroom in high school, and someone walked in and handed a note to the teacher. The teacher read it, walked over and handed that note to me. The note said, “Meet your siblings in the office,” so I went to the office, and the office staff said to me, I think it was a woman sitting at the front desk, said, “Your parents are waiting for you at home. There's a family emergency.” We walked in the door. I saw my parents. I could see that something was really wrong. We all sat lined up on the couch.
My other two sisters were already there, and they said, “Davey died.” Davey was my 22-year-old brother at that time. I couldn't comprehend the words. It was impossible for me to imagine this, but it was true. My brother had died of an alcohol overdose. In the days and weeks that came after this, I was just grappling with like, “What do I do with all this?” I had all these feelings, and I wanted to do something with them. I just had no idea what. Somehow, I learned about mothers against drunk drivers. There was a little chapter meeting at my school.
I showed up one day, and it turns out what they did as part of their work was go around to classrooms and show these gory car crash scenes, convincing high schoolers to not drink and drive. I joined, and I started doing these presentations. It was a way for me to make a difference in the world, in other people's lives around something that mattered, although I only know that looking back. At that time, it was just I wanted to do something, and this felt like it was at least related.
I got into college, and HIV and Aids was just everywhere. It was really scary, and so I ended up joining the peer education program. Really largely, I think because of what I noticed about my ability to make a difference in high school, though all of this was just … I wasn't thinking about it, and I certainly wasn't thinking, “I can't wait to be a public speaker and especially a speaking coach.” I just knew that sharing my own stories and this message that mattered in front of a room full of people was a really powerful way to make a difference.
Now by some kind of strange trajectory of life that I still can't explain, I get to coach people who do this all the time. It was never my intention. I only know that story looking back, but here's what I do know and that I understand about the people who sit in my audiences and who I work with and then is that they know they're called to share their own stories and their own message, their lessons learned to make a difference in the world. We don't always know why. I don't know why that's the way mine turned out. I've never thought, “I can't wait to get on stage and be in the spotlight,” though I've done it hundreds and hundreds of times at this point.
If you're asking yourself that question, “Is my story important enough? How do I know if it's important enough?” Ask yourself this, “Are there people in the world who are sitting where you were sitting at one point?” In my case, there are people who are sitting in this knowing that they're supposed to do something with all these feelings and these experiences, these life experiences, but they just didn't know what to do with it. They don't know what to do with it. Actually at this stage in their life, they know they're supposed to share this message to make a difference with it. They just don't know how.
It's exactly where I was. What is that story for your ideal clients? My client, Tracy, is a great example. She was just really, really devastated by what was happening in our world, the division between people, and so she one day was just fed up of having a broken heart and not knowing what to do about it. So she decided to get out there and start sharing a message around listening and hearing and connecting with one another. My client, Ron, had a wonderful experience with his kids, where he actually created these rites of passage experiences for his teenagers.
They were so profoundly impactful in their lives and in their development that he decided to build a whole organization around it and share this message far and wide. He and his wife now go out and share this message everywhere that they can. They've built all these resources, convincing other people to create this kind of experience for their own teens who are going through that rite of passage period. It came from this place of experience of our own, so when you ask yourself, “Does my story matter enough?” The question is, “Are there people out there right now who are wanting what you were wanting, who are and aren't sure what to do with it?”
Can your story help them see a path to the other side or at least to action around the thing that they so desperately want or the pain that they're really struggling with? If so, that story is meant for them. It is meant to be out there. There's your answer to the question, “Is my story powerful enough?” I'm sure that it is. I'd love to hear your story. Put it here in the comments. Tell me all about it. I'd love to hear about it. I'm so glad you're here. I will see you next week. Take care.