1 703 477 1570gideon@storywarrior.us

Don’t Let Your Backstory Hold You Back

Posted in: storytelling Started by

Don’t Let Your Backstory Hold You Back

Everyone has a backstory. Your backstory could be good, bad or ugly. Whatever your backstory is, don’t let it hold you back. Unfortunately, most of us don’t even know that we have self-limiting backstories.

Just because someone made a derogatory comment about your performance, does not mean that you cannot undo that verbal diatribe. “You cannot let someone ‘s opinion of you to become your reality.” This quote from Les Brown sums up the importance of looking past your backstory.

We cannot let a backstory or any incident that happened in the past to distort, destabilize or damage our present or future opportunities. Instead of using those shortcomings as self-limitations, challenge yourself to use those setbacks as stepping-stones to propel you to a greater future.

Personally, I have struggled with a number of stifling backstories that continue to cloud my judgment both professionally and personally. I once performed so badly in recital presentation; I never thought I would ever have anything to do with public speaking in my life.

Turns out, I was wrong. To a significant extent, I make a living as a trainer and speaker. That not withstanding, sometimes, I am still haunted by the ghost of that experience back in the 1980s. It often manifests itself through all kinds of inadequacies.

Back in those years, young boys and girls were coached for months on how to deliver a specially chosen biblical verse. I was selected to recite my verse artfully to the congregation on a Christmas day. After each recital, congregants typically rewarded the kids with Christmas presents.

The kids before me had a blast. Their hands were full of gifts: money, candies, pens, pencils, crayons, flowers, books and handkerchiefs. When it came to me, I stood up and walked confidently to the center of church and bowed. Warm applause.

After that beautiful applause, I mumbled my verse to myself, and then everything disintegrated. Everyone looked stunned and disappointed in my dismal recital. I looked to the left and right for offers to come in, but there were no offers. Till this day, I am thankful to two women that sympathized with me: my mother and my Godmother. Apparently, they did offer something just to save my face and their own faces.

I felt profoundly humiliated. That Christmas was not the happiest. Cold sweat ran down my spine for days!  I was resolved never to speak in public again. For years, I kept that my promise to myself, faithfully. I skipped sunday school and subsequently youth programs in the years that followed.

Even though that happened over three decades ago, sometimes the fear and cold sweat still runs down my spine. Occasionally, I still feel like other audiences will replay that scene from early 1980s.

Do you experience similar fears? If we aspire to do better in life, we must deliberately find ways to regularly remind ourselves that today’s wars are different from yesterday ‘s battles- and yes, we can do better.

In “Tell to Win,” Peter Guber says, “Own your backstory so it does n’t sabotage you when you tell your front story.” In essence, I believe he is saying, we must not let our backstory to undermine our front story.