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Your Story Can Save a Life

Patrick Nelson, October 28, 2019


Your Story Can Save a Life

I’ve spent the greater part of this year making grown men and women cry.

Let me explain.

Last year I embarked on a journey to help field supervisors who work in the oil and gas industry inspire greater safety practices from their teams.  My approach to safety was different than the typical “Remind people to wear their protective gear, hardhats, etc.”  Instead, I asked them to meet with their crews and share with them, in a story, why safety was important to them.

I then asked them to think of why, in fact, safety was important to them.

When we started this project, I assumed all stories would relate to workplace incidents.  Boy, was I wrong!  In these sessions, participants brought their whole life stories to bear and I learned about personal, difficult stories where safety wasn’t a priority and tragic accidents occurred.  These sessions were always emotional experiences that resulted in individuals feeling closer and more responsible for the care of each other and their greater teams.  (There may have been a few group hugs in there, too.)

I then challenged these supervisors to go out in the field and share with their crews what they shared in the classroom.

Recently I learned that these supervisors did just that and, more importantly, they had tremendous impact.  Our client just shared that the businesses’ Total Safety Incident Reporting reduced by 17% from the year prior. Yes, that’s right.  17%.  I couldn’t have been prouder of this group for having the courage to be vulnerable and leading their teams towards making safety a greater priority.

I know not everyone in the Lead Star community wears a hardhat to work.  But you do have a story to tell – at either work, in a volunteer group, or at home with your family.  By having the courage to share your story, you can inspire connection and motivate others to learn from your experiences.

Here are some ideas on how to craft your story:

  • Think of what matters to you. Is it respect? Tolerance? Inclusivity?  Diversity?  Think of what you care about and think of a story that relates to the message you want to share.
  • Be brief. Some of the most impactful stories I heard were around one minute. They were personal and to the point. The stories that take 8-10 minutes to tell often leave people checked out.
  • Write it down. There is huge value in being able to tell a compelling and succinct story. Even though it is your own story and you know it, I have found that those who just wing it tend to be talking in circles.
  • Practice. The only way to get better at something is to practice. The first time you share your story, you might bomb. But you will only get better the more you do it.

I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact our stories can have on those around us. Our past experiences have value and you never know the ripple effect they might have on someone else unless you share it.

I know my Lead Star team and I would love to connect with you to discuss how storytelling could help you drive results in an area of your business where you need support. Click here to send us a note and we’ll follow up right away.

Share: | Tags: Building a Leadership Habit, Confidence, Leadership Behaviors