My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind, and a smart man changes his mind. And that’s what I’ve done, and I’m not ashamed of it. (Elwin Wilson, Former Klansman)
Elwin Wilson attacked John Lewis 50 years ago at a bus station in South Carolina. Lewis was black, Elwin was a member of the KKK. Interestingly enough, John Lewis went on to become a U.S. Congressman. Wilson, however, ended up publicly apologizing in 2009 saying that he was wrong and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. Lewis died this year. Click here to read his story.
Reading about Wilson a few months ago got me to thinking about the stories we tell others and ourselves. For a number of reasons, we all live under dominant stories that affect how we live. Here’s an example, a young lady is embarrassed about a particular experience from her past. The result is that she never tells that story. The bi-product of this is that the world never hears lessons learned and she’s left hiding a special part of who she is. But what if there was another way?
Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher & catholic priest, was once asked, ‘What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?’ He gave a careful answer: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.’
Think about that. That statements begs us all to ask of ourselves what story we are telling about what we believe and who we are? The fruit of your life, your leadership & your business is coming from the root of the story you’re telling. Why does this matter? It matters because the world needs people who are true to who they are and what they believe.
I always used to tell my wife that I refused to lie or slant the truth about who I was when interviewing for a job because if I did, the organization would be hiring a version of me that didn’t exist. What story have you been telling about yourself? Is it entirely accurate? When was there a time when you were honest about who you were and what you wanted to do? How might you apply what you did back then to your current goal?
Here’s a little window in on my life. Recently I met Megan Sukys, a Story Consultant. She runs an organization called The Drunken Telegraph. They specialize in discovering great stories and making them accessible for others to hear. I’m going to meet with her soon to get her perspective on how I can better tell the story of who I am and what I do. I’ll keep you posted on what I discover.
For now though, think about Elwin Wilson. He changed his story. Do you need to change the story you are telling? Was there a time when you were honest about it? What happened? How could you apply what you did back then to your current goal? Let me know what happens.
This is day three of an exercise I’m engaging in called, 40 days of action, how to generate momentum on your most important goals. If you’d like to read the original blog, click here. If you’d like to participate in 40 days of action, click here to email me.