Someone asking you to talk about yourself can be intimidating, but storytelling can help you out. Realize that what people are really asking for when they ask you to talk about yourself are the patterns of who you are. Finding those patterns comes down to a simple phrase: what’s true for you is what you do.
You can use the pieces of the Red Thread to look at your experiences and identify patterns. What are the Goals you’ve tried to achieve or help others achieve? What kinds of Problems are you drawn to solve? And what Truths guide how you see the world and how you live your life?
The Change, in this case, is what you do about the answers to those first three questions. The Actions are the skill sets you’ve developed to achieve Goals and solve Problems. Organizing your experiences this way will help you understand the Whys, which makes it easier to talk about yourself with confidence.
- Focus on the TRUTH: The Difference Between “Understandable” and “Inevitable” – EP055
- Story vs. Narrative – EP063
- Why a Truth Lies at the Heart of Your Idea – EP078
– -When someone asks you, “So, tell me about yourself,” how does that make you feel? Because for a lot of us, that creates a moment of utter panic. Because how do we tell the story of ourselves? How do we use storytelling to answer that question, “Who am I,” either to ourselves, or to someone else? Well that’s exactly the question we’re answering today on Find the Red Thread. I’m your host, Tamsen Webster or tamsenwebster.com, and don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Personally, I’m tempted when someone says, “So, tell me about yourself,” to start at the beginning. To give them a recounting of every little thing that has happened over the passage of time. The problem, of course, is it’s pretty boring for yourself, and for other people. What people are really asking for when they want to hear the story of you, is they want to see the patterns of who you are. And that means we need to figure out what patterns show up over those passages of time.
Okay, Tamsen, how do we do that? Well, we can do that if we remember one simple phrase: what is true for you is what you do. It’s another way of saying that how you see drives what you do. But what’s true for you, what you believe to be true, what you value, the truths that you assume about the world, they guide everything you do. Which means if we’re trying to structure this story, this answer of who am I, then we just need to find the patterns of those truths.
We need to find the things that we do over and over again, and match them to the events in our life that have made them happen.
“That sounds all well and good,” you say, “but how do I actually do that?” Well, that’s where the pieces of The Red Thread, as we’ve talked about them before, come in. And remember those pieces are the Goal, the Problem of Perspective, the Truth, the Change, and the Action. So how does that map to telling a story of who you are?
The first is, let’s look at the Goals. Those are the things that, throughout your life, you have either tried to achieve for yourself, or you’ve tried to help other people achieve. So you could say, for instance, that “I really like helping people find their true self.” Or that “I like helping people find the power within themselves.” That might be how I answer the question. So it’s really looking for, what goals do you help you, or other people, achieve?
The Problem of Perspective in this case isn’t so much a problem, but it’s really the kinds of problems that you’re drawn to solve. Again, either for your own sake, or for other people. What are the things that people come to you, over and over again, asking you to help solve? Or the kinds of things that when you see them, either in personal or professional life, you can’t resist going in and trying to help figure it out.
Now for me, I often describe that as trying to close the gap between potential and reality. Or, trying to close the gap between energy and power. Understanding those problems that you’re drawn to solve is the second key step in understanding how to tell the story of you.
The third piece, of course, is those Truths. So identifying for people what are some of those core beliefs, values, mantras, truths, and axioms that guide how you see the world? That guide how you live your life?
For me, a couple of those are, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so that’s why I’m really focused on fairness. Making sure that everything I do is something that I would do for other people, and vice versa. Another one is that a stitch in time saves nine. That I’m trying to find the fastest, most efficient way to solve a problem for people.
You see that as soon as you start to describe those truths, the tendency is then to explain, what does that lead you to do? And that’s the “who am I” story version of the Change. It’s the what you do, over and over again. Those kind of high-level skill sets that you’ve developed.
Then the equivalent of the Actions are the specific things that you’ve done over time. So for me, the high-level Change could be something like, “so I put systems and processes in place to help people close that gap between potential and reality.” And the equivalent of the Actions are the details of them. That’s meant that over time, my skill set has largely fallen into communications, persuasion, marketing, messaging strategy, branding, presenting. Because I’ve found that (back to my Truth) that’s one of the fastest, most effective ways for people to really understand what both the reality, and the potential is.
So once you understand those pieces… What are the things that you help people achieve the Goals? What are the problems that you’re drawn to solve (the Problems)? And what are those values, beliefs, sayings, mantras that you live your life by (the Truths)? How does that lead to the high-level set of things that you do? And, what are the skillsets that you’ve developed as a result? Those are the Changes and the Actions.
When it comes to telling the story of who you are, then you just start to match up individual stories to some of those things. So, if I’m telling the story of myself, oftentimes what I’ll start with is a Red Thread of myself. I will often say something along the lines of, “I help people use processes to close the gap between potential and reality.” Or, if I’m talking to a business, I could say, “I use a system or a process for figuring out that invisible connection between branding and behavior.”
I can go back and say, “and it all started way back in seventh grade, when I decided to do an experiment testing whether or not people would think differently about a piece of chocolate. Whether or not they thought it was a premium brand, or a regular brand. They did, by the way. Even when it was not a premium brand, if they thought it was, they thought it was better. So this,” I could say, “is where my love of branding and brand strategies start,” and then I start to give other illustrations all the way along.
So, will this give you the comprehensive way to tell your particular story? No, that’s where I hope you will work with me, and think through, and watch some of the other videos, or listen to the other podcasts that I’ve done. But it will give you a place to start.
So when you’ve got that question, or you need to answer that question, ‘Well, tell me the story of you,’ now you have a framework to start building that story. Find the Red Thread. Find the Goals, the Problems, the Truths, the Changes, and the Actions. Match those to events in your life that helped you reach, or helped you develop, each of those pieces. And then, you’ve got the story of you.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Find the Red Thread. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. And if you’re looking to see how ready you are to put your Red Thread out into the world, go to tamsenwebster.com/redthreadtest. Or if you want to work with me one on one to develop your story of you, reach out to me at tamsenwebster.com/contact. Until then, and the next time, may the Red Thread be with you.