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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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