I recently finished reading one of those great beach books entitled, “The Weird Sisters (by Eleanor Brown). In the book, the middle sister finds herself at the home of her Anglican priest and wanting to make a confession. After she completes her tale, the priest/friend says, “So what is the pattern here?” And she replies, as we all would, with why other people and circumstances have created the environment which justifies her actions.
He stops her to remind her that this is “her story,” not other peoples’ stories. He goes on to say, “We all have stories we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves these stories because they allow us to excuse our actions, and allow us to pass off the responsibility for things we have done. There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, the past. We cannot change it, but we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change our future.” After a few minutes of silence, the priest looks at her and says, “You wouldn’t have asked to talk to me tonight if you hadn’t wanted to change your story. So, what’s it going to be?”
We know from working with many of you that you feel frustrated and constrained in your work and in your career. That frustration is real. But if we tell ourselves every day that it can’t get better, then it surely won’t.
I recently found myself in a work situation where I didn’t get the answer I wanted. After a few hours of frustration, and perhaps because I had just finished this book, I asked myself, “What if I saw this as a great answer? What if it was the perfect response? What would this answer allow me to do that I hadn’t previously considered?” By the morning, I realized that, in this case at least, I had, in fact, received the “better” answer.
Now, I am not saying it will always be that easy, but it is powerful to realize that we create our own story. We can’t change the facts, but we can change the way we view our story. Adrian, the Anglican priest is right. When we change our view, we can change our future.