When I was three years old, a stranger saved me from a house fire that took the lives of both of my parents. I clearly remember the evening about twenty years later when, after sharing this event with a group of friends, one said to me, “Wow, you must have something really important to accomplish here on earth for your life to have been saved like that!” No pressure or anything, I thought.
I kept thinking about that statement, and just as quickly, I would dismiss it. After all, I wasn’t important or accomplished. I was still finishing my university degree after 7 years of part-time studies; I was working full-time in retail to pay my bills; I didn’t have any major accomplishments and I really had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
And that’s not even considering that when I thought about all the people who did important things, they seemed to be everything I wasn’t – brilliant, accomplished, stand-outs in their fields: Olympic medallists, Academy Award winners (or Grammy, Emmy or Tony award winners), activists who started world-wide movements, celebrities, and more.
My story just didn’t seem all that important or earth-shattering, so what impact could I make? In fact, I often felt more like my story made me a victim, someone to feel sorry for. And the last thing I wanted was anyone’s pity.
And then one day I heard a woman share her story of being brutally attacked one night as she was walking home after having dinner with friends. I remember remarking to a good friend that there was no way I could have dealt with everything she did and how inspired I was by her. And my friend replied saying that she said the same thing about me and my story.
That was the first time I realized that maybe something in my story could help or inspire someone else. And that if even one person could be helped by hearing my story, that I had to share it.
And I’m not the only one, we all have a story – or many – that can make a difference for at least one other person. In fact, sharing our stories can have three major points of impact:
- Inspire Others: Sharing our stories of overcoming adversity can give others hope that they too can get through difficulty; our journey can provide a roadmap for them to keep moving forward, even in the darkest of times.
- Create Connection: When we are honest and vulnerable, we allow others to connect with our emotions and we provide an opportunity for them to feel validated and less alone in their own struggles.
- Attract Like-Minded People: Our stories can connect us more deeply in relationships and business. They can even help us find new and more fulfilling hobbies and careers.
We don’t have to win awards and accolades to inspire others and create impact. We only have to be willing to share our lives and our stories.