The Importance of Telling Your Own Story in the Workplace
Before starting along my new career path at Ashfield Meetings & Events earlier this year, I had always been a storyteller. I was a singer-songwriter, travelling the country and continent laying out stories with my lyrics. Before that, I was a teacher who told tales to his students about the great literary works and minds of our history. And before that? I was an Editor-in-Chief in charge of churning out the week’s most whimsical arts stories for the internet to natter about.
Arriving at Ashfield, then, felt like an ending of sorts: the chapters of my life that dealt with storytelling were through, and I was turning over a new leaf into events management. Here, I would help prepare the pages for other people’s stories – the healthcare professionals needed a stage for their storytelling, and I would proudly provide.
With every ending, though, comes a beginning. A beginning of a new, unexpected story. And though we can quite easily write ourselves into a supporting role within this story, it’s what I learnt in my first three months at Ashfield that made me realise something utterly invaluable: we are all the main character in these stories, and accepting and owning that notion can bring about great success.
We all judge a book by its cover
First impressions are everything whether we want to believe it or not, and in spite of even the most heroic of efforts, we all prejudge from time to time. We’ll wrinkle our noses at wonky vegetables, avoid shady-looking streets and cross the road to bypass a dubiously dressed youth – never mind the content of their character or what could be going on underneath. It is our gut reaction that rules our head.
The workplace is much the same: those initial interactions we share and reputations we rear can be the difference between someone giving our story the time of day and someone slapping us back on the shelf unread and underappreciated. Thankfully for me, I was surrounded by so many supportive and caring colleagues that being the truest version of myself was little challenge at all.
As a result of this, the people around me soon knew of my previous job roles and understood my strengths as a storyteller. My love for creativity came to the surface and shone. Before the ink had dried on my employment contract, I found myself invited to help run the company’s annual conference: The Lab.
Be the superhero, not the secret identity
The Lab 2018 was all about storytelling and not being afraid to be the best version of yourself. As part of the day’s proceedings, I helped to lead a session about storytelling. The moral of the session was similar to that of the entire day: to not be afraid to tell your own personal story and utilise your own unique skillset – your superpowers – in the workplace. The sessions were well-received, and it was this positivity that suddenly helped remind me of my own superhero identity and drove me to no longer hide behind my disguise.
Because let’s face it: Peter Parker’s pretty cool, but Spiderman is the real don.
Upon returning to work the following week, I knew that I could deny my true self no longer. Despite only being two months in to my time at Ashfield, I decided to make a leap of faith from Project Executive to Proposal Coordinator – a role where my storytelling talents could be employed for the benefit of the company as a whole.
I handed in my application, suited up for my interview and then waited for my Spidey Sense to start tingling…
The moral of the story
In a couple of months’ time, I will be making the move down the corridor to join the Sales Support Team as Ashfield’s new Proposal Coordinator – but what I really want to focus on here is the moral of this story.
What I’ve learnt from speaking to so many of Ashfield’s long-term employees is that my story isn’t a one-off – it’s the latest in a fantastic series of stories. Stories of people paving their own path to happiness and success. And best of all? These stories are ones reserved for anyone who’s willing to speak up, stand out and be noticed.
We are all capable of being the main character in the stories we choose to tell.
We all have skills, our own personal superpowers, but it’s what we do with those skills that steers our story’s narrative. It can be unnerving putting ourselves forward for new things, but unless we showcase ourselves to our colleagues we can never fulfil our truest potential – and that is the saddest way a story can end.
Next time you head into the office, don’t forget to dust off your cape and strut your stuff. You’ve got a success story waiting to be told, and there’s no better voice to tell that story than your own.