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The Secret to Creating a Life of Incredible Stories

The Secret to Creating a Life of Incredible Stories

As a kid, I always found myself in trouble and looking for adventure.

I’ve listened to lectures about what not to do more times than I can count. Being extremely gullible, and a bit of a daredevil consistently landed me in front of teachers and parents discussing my future.

I can’t help it. I love spontaneity, being myself, and living on the edge. And I’m competitive and have an unyielding belief that one’s thoughts control the outcome of one’s life. So I never hesitate to take opportunities that others are afraid to engage.

The truth: I’ve always wanted the best stories to tell my friends and family. Consequently, I do. The funny part is that I don’t work hard to makes my life filled with great stories. Instead, I simply take the thousands of opportunities given me:

  • A beautiful girl everyone is scared to talk to at a party, but me.
  • Giving in when someone asks me to go with them on a last-second road trip to explore Yosemite National Park.
  • Or even the one time when my brother convinced me to swing on a branch hovering thirty feet over a canyon.
  • And the countless other stories…

Not all the stories have ended in a positive way, but each one is a learning experience. Also, I’ll talk about every story, even the ones that hurt, and that’s why I have so many to tell. What I realized: If you can’t speak about your stories that are painful, then you won’t take the risks to make your life filled with stories.

It didn’t take long to understand why I put myself in risky situations and uncomfortable settings—I believe in magic. Not wizards casting spells, but the magic of life’s truth that you can become almost anyone.

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For most of us, we believe this when were younger. It started when I was a little kid playing pretend war with my friends. We threw acorns that we pretended were grenades and used Lego and K’Nex to make hand-held weapons and armor. We caused so much of a ruckus that we had to duct tape everything we made. For us, our imagination was our reality, and no one could tell us different.

Going to sleep and waking up as a kid who believes they are their own hero is truly magical. Whether you want to believe your Superman or Tony Stark, it’s time we comprehend the impossible is possible. Hopefully, you don’t forget this feeling as you age. Even though some of this feeling is likely to disappear, but for those who live a life of incredible stories, the best part remains: believing you can be anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I think that to be true. Each obstacle and opportunity to live my intended story—I take. It’s not always easy, you’ll find your hero moving in unintended directions. But then you remember that even heroes have to overcome hurdles, and that’s a critical part of each story, too.

We should all trust ourselves that we can live our stories and not someone else’s. We don’t need to live through celebrities, T.V., or movies because we should be living a life of stories worth telling. Moreover, a life full of stories doesn’t take time for anything ordinary when we should be extraordinary.

If you’re wondering who your hero is, then think about your favorite books where you have the strongest connection to the protagonist. It’s possible that’s the story you should strive to create out of your life.

I fell in love with stories that have an adventurous protagonist who conquers evil. Correspondingly, I take many risks and live life on the edge. Reading a story about a small kid who grows up to become a warrior and defeat a dragon leads me to believe I can go up against anyone.

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It’s a fact that fiction novels help people beyond increasing their vocabulary and keeping the interest piqued. Reading fiction books can aid in developing a stronger emotional intelligence; as a result, this can give your success a nice jumpstart.

The best part: Great fiction stories are memorable.

Sad to say, but many college graduates can’t name ten things they learned in post-secondary education. However, they can tell you countless stories of risk and adventure. Stories are clearly one of the best channels to absorb information.

The hard part is that stories are not created by themselves. You have to take the initiative to make them happen. But the easy part is that you don’t have to look far because the opportunities are everywhere. Remember, creating stories is not so much about risk-taking as it is about creating a life worth living.

Let me ask you:

If you’re creating a story not worth being told, then why are you living?

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The next time you see one of the thousands of opportunities around you, don’t doubt yourself. You can become whomever you want. That’s how people become president, and Elon Musk becomes Tony Stark.

You have the ability to live a hero’s life where you never waste an opportunity.

So what we need to ask ourselves: Why did we stop believing?

We became convinced that we couldn’t live as a hero unless we went through systems ingrained in our culture like attending college and working specific jobs. Progressively we accepted that we are not heroes, we are not unique, and dreams only live in fiction books.

It’s time to stop listening to the people who tell us what we have to do. Instead, listen to the people who turned their dreams into reality so they can see their hero every day in the mirror. These are the ones who know the world’s best-kept secret: you can turn fiction into fact.

If I stopped my child-like curiosity and dreams from propelling me forward, I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as I am now. Sure there have been a couple of bumps in the road, but no one starts as a hero, they must conquer challenges to become a champion.

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Just like fiction heroes can overcome their fears, we can too.

I’ve never sat through a lecture and felt inspired. What has inspired me were fiction stories that told me I could be better than a student falling asleep in a college lecture. These same stories told me I could improve a small part of the world each day if I worked hard enough. Those are the ones I believe in because life is not worth living if that’s not true.

Keep in mind: If you don’t see yourself as having potential to change the world, then you won’t ever change it.

Ask yourself: What hero do you want to see in the mirror?

Remember, a hero always has an inner fire to drive them through the toughest times. And just maybe part of overcoming your hardest obstacles is understanding you are your own hero.

And because we can’t live someone else’s life, we must face ourselves.

The secret to living a life of incredible stories: find your fiction and turn it into reality.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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