Last week I shared a powerful West African proverb, “The lion’s story will never be known if the hunter is the one to tell it.”
It reminded me of some Quiet Leaders (QLs) who say they don’t like talking about themselves and would rather their results speak for them. Typically, they have no qualms shining a light on others’ successes and strengths but when it comes to talking about their own, they are less comfortable. But like the lion, if a QL’s narrative is left to someone else, then the telling of their truth… their experiences, successes, strengths… may be distorted without the most important perspective… their own.
Your ability to express yourself with your authentic voice will help determine if and when you can achieve what you most want to do. Fortunately, getting comfortable doing this is a learnable skill.
What is your stumbling block? Do you see yourself in any of the following situations? If so, try the accompanying tried and true methods for building confidence.
Do you: feel you lack a clearly defined portfolio of your own successes?
Try this: PSI – Problem, Solution, Impact.
Summarize a problem or situation you faced. Briefly describe the solution or action you took. Then state the impact of your solution or action. To get clear and succinct, write your thoughts, then edit them down to their essence. Have more than one PSI story prepared so you can go where the conversation flows.
Do you: suspect your delivery isn’t as effective as it could be?
Try this: Talk about parts of your message with different audiences to test how it sounds and observe how it lands. Is it clear? Succinct? Confident? Refinement is an ongoing process when talking about accomplishments and possibilities, so don’t beat yourself up. The best storytellers continually look for ways to improve.
Do you: easily talk about others’ abilities but clam up when it comes to your own?
Try this: Switch places, mentally, with those you are talking with. If you were them, what would you want to know? Why is that important? What could help you achieve your goals? This shift into another’s mindset helps many QLs express themselves more freely.
Do you: lack an appreciation of your strengths and areas that need development?
Try this: Ask a trusted colleague, mentor, manager for one thing you do well and one thing you could improve upon when talking in meetings, etc. Work on the growth opportunity, then ask for feedback on how you’re doing. Tackling one at a time can lead to tremendous improvement over time. This raises your awareness of the strengths others see in you, too.
The fact is no one’s story has the same resonance and power of authenticity when told by an observer. No biography achieves the same intimacy as an autobiography. Roar if you want to. If roaring isn’t your style, then speak confidently, humbly, and effectively about who you are and what you do well.
Use your voice. Tell your story. Make the narrative your own. You can do it!