Then my wife came home from work one day and without tears or anger simply said, “Joel, I’m sorry but I just don’t love you anymore. I want a divorce.” Six months later, at eight o’clock on a summer evening, one of my foremen called from a job site where my company was constructing a $10 million firehouse. “I’ve got some bad news man, an hour ago the entire roof collapsed. Nobody was hurt, but it’s a total mess.”
It couldn’t get worse, could it? The insurance companies disagreed on a settlement and my case went to lengthy arbitration. Which caused the banks to recall their credit lines, which forced me to lay off all my employees and default on a large project. I was down to a few personal possessions and my faithful dog, Björn. But I had a secret treasure that made it possible to move on.
Four years after closing my business, I earned a degree in journalism and mass communication from a top private USA university. Two years later, I was invited to co-found and run one of Switzerland’s first B2C Internet companies, which we sold at the top of the dotcom market euphoria. Wow! I was a paper millionaire.
Can you guess what happened next? C-R-A-S-H. By 2002, the paper was worthless and I had my family to feed. Thankfully my secret treasure was still intact, empowering me to move on again.
My experiences are not unique. Careers and companies flourish and fall. Fortunes are won and lost. Life is a journey of ups and downs. A few powerful principles run through it all – my secret is one of them.
The treasure I have drawn on time and time again, in good times and bad, has no monetary value or physical properties. Truthfully, my treasure is not even a secret: it’s a well-known paradox: the more I give, the more I receive.
Put another way, even when adversity knocks you back a step or three, redouble your efforts to be useful to others; good things will come that more than compensate for loss or hardship – no matter what Providence lays in your path.
I can help you to craft your own unique purpose in a Story format. People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it (adapted from 2009 TED talk by Simon Sinek). There is no more powerful way to communicate why you do something than to use a Story, well told.
The true story you just read uses my S.T.O.R.Y. Framework to show how the all-important “About” text can be structured to show your reader who you are, why you do what you do and what your listener should do next. You can use the same for a Linked In profile, About.me, Facebook or other social media. Feel free to use and share my examples (credits always appreciated).
If you’d like to keep informed as I continue to develop how to apply storytelling for business or personal development, subscribe to my mailing list. Occasionally you’ll receive ideas, examples and special offers to help you tell better stories. Believe me, if you want to be heard, make people care and have an impact, tell them a good Story.