By Valerie Oechslin
How do you discover your uniqueness? If you talk to any documentarian they’ll tell you that they look for stories that are interesting and compelling. EVERYONE has an interesting and compelling story! When I’m sitting with a person in a Starbucks or having dinner with new business acquaintance I’m always struck by how they respond to pointed (but not too personal) questions. Do you have kids? What brought you to this town? Do you have siblings? What do you do for a living? How did you get into that line of work? Where did you grow up? Anyway you get the picture. Without prying too much I start to hear the interesting details of their story. Usually a person is looking for someone to be interested in their story and they’re more than happy to open up.
What strikes me everytime is that each person is unique and the ins and outs of their life experience have formed who they are today. All of us have good qualities and one thing on which we can agree is that our experiences have formed our personal characteristics. So what, right? Well I think if we pull out the good from our stories then we can begin to find our purpose in life.
What do we have to offer the world? My story is different than yours so what I have to offer is different than what you have to offer. But we both have unique gifts that have been affected by our life experience. Let me suggest that you sit down and pretend you were doing a documentary on your life and a filmmaker was asking you questions about the things you’ve learned in life, things you value in life and actions you’ve taken in your occupation, relationships and other decisions. It’s okay to include a struggle because people like a good story when the main player overcomes a serious challenge in their life and declares victory over it! Overcoming anything is a VERY important part of your story so let it rip!
Finally, I would like to encourage you to use your story to find your purpose. Ask yourself, “What can I offer a group of people?” Maybe a professional organization, a non-profit mentoring or recovery program or a teaching opportunity. The point is that you have some wonderful things to offer the world and exploring your story is an effective way to discover them.
You are special, unique and valuable so don’t underestimate the positive and profound effect you can have on this world.
BE Better. BE Exceptional. BE Unique. And most importantly, Be YOU!
By Valerie Oechslin
In his book “12 Rules For Life” Jordan Petersen says, “Genuine conversation is exploration, articulation and strategizing.” He goes on to say that , and I’m paraphrasing, by listening to an individual you might actually learn about their problems and how they’re solving them which in turn, can help you address some of your own issues. Be active and present in the process. Pay attention to whom you’re talking and you may learn something! In Relational Intelligence Steve Saccone, “When it comes to being interested in people, the goal is not to be interested in every detail of their lives, but rather to discover what is interesting about them and draw it out.” A good question to ask yourself is, “What makes them unique?”
WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)- Conversation is the beginning of relationship. By introducing yourself you are starting a conversation with someone who may become a friend, mentor, partner or business acquaintance. Your life can be seriously enhanced and purposeful with great relationships so let’s get to work and make some friends!
1. So What’s Your Sign?
Attend a party or a networking event with the express purpose of collecting someone’s unique story. Throw away the elementary questions and don’t talk about yourself. Also stay away from yes and no questions. Ask open ended questions such as, “How did you get into this line of work?” and “Where are you from originally?” “What brought you to this town?” Be a good listener and engage with interest!
2. Embrace Small Talk
Whether it’s chatting with a coworker at lunchtime or striking up a short conversation with the person who serves you lunch make it a goal to ask a short but meaningful question. This effort can show you are a little more interested than someone that passes them by and simply waves or smiles. It may look like asking the waiter, “How are you doing today?” and a possible follow up would be, “Has it been a long day for you?” People love to know that someone cares. To the coworker you may ask “What are you doing this weekend?” which could lead to other questions that inquire about family, hobbies and such. Who knows you may find out about how they think and why they handle things the way they do at work. Who knows, the next time you run in to these folks they may just ask you about yourself!
• What did you learn about yourself when you focusing on asking about another person?
• Did any new relationships come out these encounters?
• Compare the experience of in person conversation to a text conversation.
Learning how to make conversation helps us to TRULY connect to other people and improve our social well being which in turn helps our mental and physical health. We need people and they need us! Let’s show we care! Be careful, you may actually learn something!