This post is part of a series on limiting beliefs. Stay tuned for future posts!
In this post on limiting beliefs, I want to talk about a common one I hear from nonprofit professionals: the fear that their story doesn’t matter.
As nonprofit professionals, we have the power to make a real difference in the lives of those we serve and in our communities in general. Given the nature of this work, people can and will learn something from you because they’re listening to you and what you have to say.
Just on the basis of that alone: Your story matters!
Finding the value in your story
Building your confidence when telling your story
To successfully share your story, you need to understand and appreciate the value in it. You also need to stop talking yourself out of sharing it. The more confidence you have in your story and the more often you tell it, the more powerful it becomes.
Say it out loud: My story matters. My story is worth telling.
You may have to get up every morning and repeat that mantra when you get dressed for your job—a job that has a positive impact on the world—and that’s OK! Repeat it until you believe it.
Remember: Shrinking away from your story or giving off the vibe that you don’t believe that it matters will come across clear as day. When telling your story, keep your head up, keep your chest open, and speak up.
Share your struggles
On that note, in order to have confidence in your story, you need to confront what you’re anxious about when it comes to telling it. Maybe you’re anxious about sharing the struggles you’ve faced because you don’t want to appear to be a victim. Maybe you’re worried that those negative experiences, misfortunes, or mistreatments will come to define you.
But the fact is, those struggles are a part of your story. They had a role in shaping you into who you are today. You can’t fully embrace and have confidence in your story if you ignore these things, no matter how painful they are. This doesn’t mean you have to love them, but you do need to accept them.
Everything you’ve experienced has brought value to your life; you’ve learned something from the good and the bad. Those are the things that have equipped you to do your job and serve others. This is why your story is your greatest asset. You may take your knowledge and lessons for granted because they’re so ingrained in you and who you are, but they could influence others in a profound way.
Consider how your struggles have taught you life lessons that could benefit someone else if they hear them. Consider how your struggles have shaped your character and your compassion. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable—share them!
Focus on the right audience for your story
Maybe you’re worried about how your story will be received. Here’s something important to keep in mind: Your story isn’t for everybody so let go of that expectation. Focus instead on the fact that your story is for somebody and remember that that person needs to hear what you have to say.
More than that, your words and actions will land in places you never realize and ones you may never even know about. Your voice will create a ripple effect you never imagined.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at [email protected].