Who's Telling Your Story?

When I was in college in the ‘80s, the worst thing a woman could do was start her professional life as a secretary. Once seen in that role, you were going nowhere.

I didn’t really believe this because I knew I was headed for a successful career. I knew who I was.

But at my long-term temp job, they knew I typed letters and filed documents.

Some of the execs I worked for got it – that I was a college student just there to make some funds. In fact, I was saving up for a move to LA, where I was planning to work for a PR firm.

One executive was puzzled by this. “Why LA and why a PR firm? You’re a secretary.” That was his story of me.

My story was different. I was a published writer with a portfolio of news and PR work, plus a degree from the top journalism school in the country. I just happened to be typing his letters for a few months.

I had no interest in staying at that company, but if I had, I should have told my story better. He filled the vacuum with his perceptions.

There’s a story out there about you. Is it your story? Or is it someone else’s story of you?

We all fear being the obnoxious bragger (except, of course, for the obnoxious braggers themselves). But telling your story – sharing what you’re proud of and your vision for the future – is not bragging.

Sharing your story is necessary to achieve your goals, such as:

  • Funding for your initiative
  • A special project or task force to raise your visibility
  • A larger role in the organization
  • A team that is on board and gets your vision

Sharing your story puts you in charge.

Otherwise, it’s as though everyone is reading the unauthorized biography of you. It might be good, but it could be spotty. It might be true, but also 10 years old. Then you were a mid-level professional. Now you’re in line for a top role.

Sharing your story helps those you don’t know well understand what you have to offer. Sharing your story helps colleagues, mentors, sponsors and allies tell the real story of you, to give your career, project or initiative a boost.

The world needs what you have to offer, but if you don’t tell us what that is, we’ll never know.