Your Story Helps You Lead With Your Value & Set Yourself Apart

Jul 19, 2016 | All Blogs, Storytelling

“My pride won’t let me ask.”

Elizabeth repeated this statement every time someone encouraged her to ask to be on the building project. Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

If they couldn’t see what she had to offer, she wasn’t going to ask them to let her join. From Elizabeth’s perspective, her qualifications were clear because she took part in a large group meeting a few weeks ago and shared her well thought out, clearly articulated ideas for the project.

My exchange with Elizabeth took place at a dinner party where I explained to her and Ben, a fellow architect, that I work with executive women to help them build a career strategy that brings autonomous, interesting, and lucrative work.

After listening to Elizabeth’s refusal to ask for inclusion in the project, Ben turned to me and said, “Ah, this is why you do this work.”

Ben wouldn’t have hesitated to ask to be on the team. In fact, he did ask to be involved in the same project and he didn’t see it as an issue of pride. Ben explained to Elizabeth that the head of the team had a dozen responsibilities at her feet and may not realize that Elizabeth was interested in the project.

Elizabeth’s solution was to ask Ben if he would approach the committee on her behalf. While he was happy to do it, this was a missed opportunity for Elizabeth. Regardless of how earnest his recommendation might have been, she would have missed an opportunity to convey her passion and ideas directly to the source.

The ask was Elizabeth’s opportunity to build a relationship that could pay dividends in the long run. If Ben had asked on her behalf, he would have gotten the credit as a relationship builder.

Having managed a large number of people in the past, I can truly admit that, regardless of how well meaning, I was never able to remember the accomplishments of everyone on my team when it came to annual evaluations. In order for them to get the best evaluation, they needed to share their strengths, skills, and accomplishments over the past year. It was truly a team effort.

I share these examples because even when we think we are demonstrating our worth, nothing compares to directly communicating our value and what we want. Nothing—not your bright ideas that you share with your colleague, not the hard work you do by yourself, and not indirect self-promotion.

How and when you articulate your value takes practice and a bit of strategy. If you prepare in advance, when the time comes, you will be ready to promote your work and ideas. Otherwise, you let pride, fear, or lack of preparation block you from exciting projects and fulfilling work.

One way to practice articulating your value is by sharing a personal story. Your story engages the listener and gives you an opportunity to share the qualities that set you apart.

I’ve created The Story Builder Toolkit to help you get started in building a distinctive, unique story to highlight what makes you the obvious choice.

Click here to download The Story Builder Toolkit. And if you have questions about the process or how to drill down to what matters most in your one-of-a-kind narrative, contact me to set up a one-on-one coaching call.

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