In Rolf Jensen's The Dream Society, he predicts: "The highest-paid person in the first half of [this] century will be the 'storyteller' [...] valued for his or her ability to produce 'dreams' for public consumption."
How can you grow rich in any field? By mastering your story. No one else has your story. It's your snowflake, your unique contribution.
Former NFL standout, acclaimed Broadway playwright and performer, and international presence/story coach Bo Eason reveals how in this interview.
Q. Why is our personal story our most powerful asset?
Because of all the people who have been on this earth before us and of all those who will follow, not one will have your same blueprint. No one can do you. There's no competition out there. You are a one-time phenomenon.
If you don't have the courage to share your blueprint, it will be lost forever. No one can repeat that story; no one knows that story; it will never be told. Therefore, all those who come after us will never learn from what you saw, what you learned.
If you want to be successful in anything, you need to master the narrative of your life. All of your leadership and moneymaking ability rests in that narrative, because that is how people will connect to you.
Only You Can Do You.
Q. So how can we start mastering the narrative of our life?
First you have to stop devaluing your story. We tend to think, "Who cares what I've done?" We think it's not dramatic or interesting enough, because we're living our lives day-to-day, minute-to-minute. Take me, for instance: I'm fifty-three. If you take all fifty-three years, it does seem kind of boring. But if you take the most dramatic parts of those fifty-three years and squish them against time and you apply pressure, now that is a really dramatic story.
So you need to start with those dramatic highlights. To find what that is for you, think of your greatest moment in life. Then, get rid of that. That's not what we're after.
Now go back to the lowest moment in your life, when you looked around and there were no answers-the story you feel shame or embarrassment about, the story you do not want to tell.
That's where you begin, the lowest moment, the moment that helped define who you are. In that moment you either said, "Hey, I am going to fight; I am going to stay in here." Or you quit. And those are the only two choices. And that's what we are all looking for: those turning points in your life that define you.
If you think of any great story, that's where it begins. Say we were creating a story about climbing Mt. Everest, where do you think we would begin that story? Not at the top, we'd start at the bottom, turning to each other and saying, "There is no way; we can't do it."
It's the struggle, the climb that we all want to watch.
Begin in the Struggle.
Q. Why do people connect through the climb, the struggle?
Because it's universal. All of us have several of those defining moments, whether it was when you were cut from little league, or when you didn't get asked to prom, or when you got dumped by the love of your life. It is always about that rejection and the feelings and response that go with it. You say to yourself, "I am never doing that again; I am never going to ask a girl out again" or "You know what, I'm going to keep asking." Those are the moments that we all face; we've all felt those feelings.
And that is what we human beings are all attracted to: somebody who is willing to fight. We are not interested at all in people who stop the fight. We are not interested in people who give up; we kind of just dismiss them. We want to hear about the struggle and how it is overcome.
Once you start telling that story, people connect to you; they trust you and believe that they have some kinship with you, which they do, because you share a universal theme that transcends lifetimes.
Vulnerability Creates Trust.
Q. Why is it so difficult for many of us to authentically tell that story?
Storytelling is much simpler than we make it. It is an innate human ability, so we are really good at it. But we've just been in this Information Age for two generations, so we are simply out of shape as far as storytelling muscles go.
The Information Age has us all talking about ourselves in resume bullet points. And that's not effective at all. I could say to you, "Hey, I'm great, you know-I was an NFL standout and then I wrote this great play." But you are going to think, "Oh, who gives a crap?"
But if I reveal that story as, "When I was nine years old, I had this dream. I wanted to be the best safety in the whole world." Now, all of a sudden, we are connected; now you understand how I think, you understand who I am, and you understand who you are through the story. We have a connection; you are going to help me co-create that story. You're on my side.
So we need to take the filters off and go back to our roots as storytellers.
Q. So how do the rest of us remove those filters and flex those storytelling muscles?
The story you're telling has to be personal. It has to mean something to you. You have to get your molecules embedded into the words. And to do that you have to start at your lowest moment, like we talked about before.
See, many of us have everything we need, and we want more than we need. The one thing we're lacking in is connection. And we desire it so desperately that we are even pretending to connect. But that doesn't work. Take social media: I call it 'pretend connecting' because you are kind of connecting, but you don't have any vulnerability, because you don't have anything at risk.
It is not like the scenario we talked about earlier-where the boy goes and asks the girl out on a date-now that's connection, that's vulnerability, that's putting your heart out there and risking it be broken. That gives us immediate intimacy and immediate trust.
That's true of writing, that's true of acting, that's true of speaking, that's true of dance. The people we fall in love with are the ones whose heart is hanging out there. And we are helping them-we co-create the performance and feel a part of it. It happens so infrequently that we fall in love with that person. We think, "Oh my God, this is different," because it is so rare.
Get Personal & Co-Create.
Q. Is this the Age of the Storyteller, as Rolf Jensen predicted?
Today's leaders, the ones who will have their voice out there and make a difference, are the people who are closest to their own nature and are willing to accept it. Those who surrender to their nature, their raw animal instincts, and are willing to tell that story will inherit the earth.
I think the people who are furthest from their nature, that won't even visit those neighborhoods of their nature, that discount that those places even exist, I think they are in real trouble. Because you can't beat nature; you just can't go up against it for long and defeat it.
And if you think of our true nature, we are communal based. We are looking for other human beings to form a community, because that's how we survive-by banding together.
Stories do that. When we start to get in touch with our story, we return to our noblest nature as human beings.
Embrace Your True Nature.
See other interviews from this series with top business and life leaders:
Julia Cameron - How to Ignite Your Creativity
Dean Karnazes - How to Run Over Fear & Take Action
Roger Love - How to Avoid Communication Suicide
About Bo: Bo Eason is a former NFL standout, acclaimed Broadway playwright and performer, and international presence/story coach. He has trained with some of the world's most brilliant performance and movement coaches, logging in over 20,000 hours on stage crafting and presenting his personal story. Bo is now dedicated to helping others tap the power of their personal story and become effective, persuasive communicators.