What's your Story?

How often are you asked, “What do you do?”

The person asking the question could legitimately be interested in your profession, yet a better question about how you arrived at your current status is, “What is your story?”

A person’s story is much more telling of why they have a specific job, what brought them to their current position, and where they are going in the future.  When I hear a genuine story spoken with honesty and vulnerability, I am immediately drawn to the person and am much more interested in their profession compared to a common, “I do ____.”

My professional story is unique as I:

  • was part of an archaeological dig in Greece,
  • completely failed in law school as I made it a total of three semesters,
  • finished an MA in anthropology from the University of Houston doing research on education reform in the United States,
  • failed again when I briefly taught high school,
  • spent a few amazing years teaching anthropology at the University of Houston and Houston Community College while simultaneously working with a non-profit organization that builds and operates orphanages in Haiti,
  • failed by publishing a book from what I found out was a “book mill,” and
  • was driven by a desire to push myself to greater heights which led me to an MBA program at Bauer college of business.

These major milestones are monuments in my professional story that have brought me to where I am and are shaping my future.  Each becomes a talking point that can be expanded on for as long as someone is willing to listen.

Our stories makes us unique, interesting, and attract people to our professions.  I am much more inclined to purchase an item, subscribe to a service, or listen more intently to an individual with a great story.  I am enamored by stories, especially those of failure, learning, and accomplishments.  Great individual stories are littered with failure accompanied with glimpses of success. Those people have lived, they have battled in the arena:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

A central goal in my life is to continually add to my story through failure, learning from others, surrounding myself with great mentors, and occasionally succeeding.  If you are like me, the next time someone asks; “What do you do?”  Change the framework, and reply with your story as it will connect deeper and make them believe in your profession.