Telling stories is a great way to connect with your audience, and for life coaches, business stories illustrate the struggles and successes we all share.
It doesn’t matter if you are on stage, teaching a class, writing an email to your list, recording a podcast or writing a blog post. Business storytelling could and should should play a big part of your content creation and marketing strategies. But how do you come up with those stories in the first place? Here are seven tips to help you keep the business story ideas flowing so you can find just the right one for just about any situation.
Share A Recent Encounter
Often the best story are happening to you and all around you. Think about a client who is successful in her achievements? Can you tell her story as an example to newbies? What is the best coaching conversation you ever had? Or which complement from a client meant the most to you? And why was that story most meaningful?
Recall A Conversation
Conversations offer great story ideas. Without going into too many details or sharing too much information about the person you were talking to, what was the underlying message of the conversation in your storytelling. Example: One parent, who called me, was frustrated her their three-year-old daughter was always singing, dancing, and seemed “overly” playful. The daughter was a total contrast to their eldest daughter, aged ten, who mom described as most like the parents. Parents and older daughter liked to read, study the stars, read science-type magazines. The younger child shared few, if any, interests with the parents and older sister. I shared with the parents how there are different temperaments, and because the older sister was an intellectual, didn’t mean that the second child would be of the same temperament. No, the younger child was the talkative, creative, dancing ballerina.. They got it, and I didn’t hear from them until ten years later. Now older daughter is thirteen and younger daughter is six. Mom called to share how the knowledge of temperaments changed their lives. They started offering the younger child outlets for her dancing body and creative brain, as they offered the older child classes and experiences in which her strengths could flower.
Dig Deep and Share A Childhood Memory
Childhood memories are another great source of story ideas. The memories that stick with us from way back when are often the ones that taught us a valuable lesson or had a significant impact on who we are today. Think back to what you remember from your childhood and how you can tie those memories into what you’re doing today.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Stories are going on all around us. Pay attention to the situations and conversations people have around you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many story ideas you’ll get just by paying attention your surroundings. Example: I went to the hospital when I felt sharp pains crackle cross my chest. Heart attack? Not sure! Go to bed or go to the emergency room? Go to the hospital. Over five hours, I was admitted, assigned a bed, tested, and the doctor finally arrived in the early morning to tell me the news.
“You have a pulmonary embolism.”
“And that is….?”
“You have a blood clot in your lungs.”
Carry A Little Notebook
We’ve established that there are conversations around us from which we draw a story theme. as you observe those stories, which are memorable that would be a good fit with the content or product. Stick a little notebook and pen in your purse, briefcase or jacket. Keep it with you and jot down short notes about ideas, thoughts, conversations and situations that have storytelling potential.
Listen To Your Family and Friends
Pay attention to your loved ones. They are sharing stories with you on a regular basis. Listen to your kids when they come home from school. Sit down for an after-school snack, and ask them about their day. You’ll have an almost never-ending supply of storytelling material. Listen with rapt attention to feel their emotions and exemplify those feelings in your story, as they are genuine and believable. Keep looking for new ideas and keep telling those stories to grow your business, connect with you readers and make the sale.
One sensitive issue parents contend with is their child’s temperament. Understanding children’s inborn traits is a key to better parenting and happier children, especially in the development years.
Before my daughter was born, I imagined her to be a specific type of a good-natured child. As she grew up, I realized my always viewing her as good-natured was a pre-conceived idea I had. Her childhood moods meandered through creative, sensitive, emotional, and even defiant in the early teen years. And she was good natured about most events in her life.
Understanding her temperament enabled me not to blame my self for her situations. Instead, I learned strategies to deal with difficult circumstances or conditions. One point of discipline I followed was to diffuse challenging situation so as not to escalate into major conflicts that might cause harm.
Temperament information helps you see how your child learns, responds, reacts, and behaves. Through the earlier years of development, you see reactions begin to form into a pattern of values, needs, and fears:
+++++ One child needs closeness, touch, and assurance from parents.Thus, he values following his parents, climbing in their laps and being cuddled or held.
His fear of not having the needs met, or when his needs are not met, he feels, hurt, lost, or angry.
+++++ Another youngster values being by herself–independence.
She plays with her dolls and likes doing so by herself.
Her need to learn through trial an error means that she pushes parents away sometimes with the familiar, “I can do it.”
+++++ Children, who readily and quickly shift, show adaptive temperaments. They learn more by doing and practicing.
+++++ Children, who have slower-to-warm temperaments, learn by watching and rehearsing internally.
+++++ Children’s challenging temperaments cause us to regroup:
- Ask what is the child going through?
- Is this a temperament trait or learned behavior that needs to change?
- Are the child’s needs being met?
- Are fears causing issues?
- Has the child’s value been diminished in any way?
This child views the world through optimistic eyes, adapts quickly and maintains positivity well. He is a natural learner, eats and sleeps regularly (has no trouble sleeping), is pleasant and cheerful, and displays a low-intensity mood.
Because this child feels deeply in certain situations, he has few significant emotional outbursts. This type comprises about 40% of all people.
The Feisty/Difficult/Spirited group of children comprises about 10% of the population. This grouping is the opposite of the flexible children. Feisty children are slow to adapt to the routines: napping, eating, homework, quiet time. Moreover, bowel movements are not regular. The spirited child has preferences for parents to discover and manage. On the hand, the child shows his mastery for specific tasks.
The feisty child has tantrums, is fussy, and can be unpleasant in disagreements. With high energy, this child explores with intensity and can get into mischief, On the other hand, he or she is bursting with energy and explores the surrounding and people intensely.
The third general temperament type is aptly called Slow-To-Warm, and 15% of the population belongs to this category. Slow to warm types are shy or highly-sensitive persons (which they sometimes are. They watch their world and usually observe on the outside of things before joining. Their internal clock is disrupted easily and shows up in irregular sleeping, feeding and other personal habits. This child seems to be always enjoying things or doing them at his own sweet pace.
The rest of the 35% of the population are combinations of several temperaments. They exhibit traits of all three temperament types and cannot be categorized into a single trait pattern. The feature they share is that they have characteristics of all three temperaments.
In all these temperament types, you will also find yours. Understanding children and their temperaments include understanding your own. Doing so will open your eyes to the many areas where you can connect to that of your children, or whether you are compatible with each other or not.
Do you know that the tool–creative visualization– allows for manifestation? Using viewing, as it is intended, changes your circumstances and sometimes your entire life. Concentrating and focusing on a particular outcome can, indeed, make it happen because I have experienced it several times in my life.
When I was a divorced mom with a beautiful young daughter, I read the novel Hawaii during the summer months that school was out. The author James Michener, wrote with such fluency that the story mesmerized me. I day-dreamed about Hawaii and what life there might be for a Special Education teacher.
I imagined it often enough that I unwittingly created a marriage to a native Hawaiian teacher. I was not careful what I asked for, and the union dissolved after seven years.
Visualization works. When paired with positive emotional states, it works better.
Goodman was a successful insurance salesman, who was well-versed in creative visualization. He visualized his entire insurance business.
In the 1980’s, a plane crash rendered Morris paralyzed and unable to use any part of his body other than his brain. He breathed on his own with the help of a ventilator.
Doctors were not hopeful. His family made plans to support his limitations as best they could. Meantime, Morris communicated with the staff and his own family by blinking his eyes. What he told them surprised everybody – that he planned on walking out of the hospital on his own.
Morris used creative visualization to see and feel himself breathing and walking without help. He visualized leaving the hospital, and even the very route he would take home.
At one point, he convinced the medical staff that he wanted to attempt breathing on his own. He claimed he had an urge to breathe on his own and he wanted to try. They removed the ventilator tube, and he did breathe on his own.
From that point on, he walked out of the hospital–something that the hospital staff believed they would not see. Morris continued with his successful insurance business, and also became a motivational speaker, proving that it only takes the brain and creative visualization to change your entire world.
When coaches or consultants are working with parents or a family, take time with parents to establish a good fit between the parent’s temperament and the child’s temperament.
What Is Creating a Good Fit?
The term “goodness of fit, or used here as the good fit, refers to parents meeting the needs of a child by parenting according to the temperament of each child. The goodness of fit between a child’s temperament and your parenting temperament style is essential for healthy social and emotional development for both you and your child. Also, you want to meet your personal needs as a parent in daily living from sleeping well at night to scheduling date nights.
How To Create A Good Fit?
The Nine Traits Inventory is helpful in determining reaction patterns in children and typically is used from infancy through the first to fifth grade. For example, two-year-old Lucy was very shy. Each month when Mom’s book group came for an evening, Lucy’s mom thought she was helping by pushing Lucy forward or holding Lucy while mom’s friends hugged her hello. Lucy, however, appeared frightened and pulled back.
Being with and observing your child, you start to note how he or she responds to people, environments, stress, food, etc. You’ll be observant of how you react. Are you reactive? Or are you proactive?
Your goal is to become an active parent by recognizing feelings and watching behaviors. The more you observe your child’s traits, the more prepared you’re a master at managing and supporting temperaments. You are watching your child adapt, and then you adjust to varied environments and situations as you go along. Lucy’s mom took the hint when a book club member mentioned that because Lucy seemed overly shy, why not let her hang out at the book club meeting for several weeks without pushing her into anyone or anything. Instead, the friend suggested that Lucy explores and find her level of comfort in her way. These moms would watch how she did it and learned what comforted Lucy. That advice was excellent for Lucy’s mom to allow temperament expressions to evolve into a good fit for the situation.
What Does Adapting the Environment Mean?
Here are examples of how different parents handled changing the environment to meet the needs of a child.
Marilynn got upset when something new was happening the next day or an activity would be different. Her mom started talking about the exciting new event one week before it would happen. She’d mention in normal conversation each night, and the night before the event was the most critical. Marilynn asked, “Is it tomorrow?” Mom responded wth yes, which made Marilynn cry more. Marilynn would speak of being scared and not liking new things she didn’t know about. Mom adapted the environment by talking about the event with her daughter. She left an additional hour for Marilynn to get ready for bed, cry, read a book, and talk some more before turning off the light. On the following mornings, Marilynn did all right and held herself together. Somehow, her living through the fear before the event seemed to make her happier to be there.
Do you see how common sense the adaptations can be?
What questions do you have about a good fit between parents and children?
Parents should also thoroughly examine themselves to see if they are getting all of their needs met. All too often parents neglect their own needs for the sake of their children.
BY KRISTY DIXON
While this seems like an honorable sacrifice, parents may not be doing the best parenting they could be doing if they are feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially unhealthy. The whole-parent parenting coach should inquire about the parent’s needs and which ones if any are being met and which ones are not. I can identify with this personally. When my daughter was born I was so exhausted and overwhelmed not only from round the clock feedings, but also from visitors. I literally forgot to eat. When I took her to the pediatrician for her 2 week check up she had not gained much weight. Immediately after taking her off the scale the pediatrician told me to stand on the scale. This did not make any sense to me at the time, but looking back now I see why it was important and how gaining information about the mother gave him information about the child. He said that I was loosing too much weight too fast and that my milk was probably too low in fat for her to gain enough weight. He ordered me to eat spinach dip, a rib eye steak, and a glass of red wine. He also told me to pump milk for a bottle for my husband to feed her at least once in the night to give me a little extra sleep and to allow him some bonding time. She started gaining weight so fast after I did that. As a parent who forgot to eat because I was too busy taking care of everyone else and trying to be the perfect hostess, I cried a lot those first few weeks. I have learned a great lesson from this experience and plan to do things differently with the next baby. I also plan to share this experience of what-not- to- do with my future, overextended clients.
Many parents try to do everything on their own. They try to control it all and be in control of everyone. However, parenting never used to be and was never intended to be a one or two person job. Pam Leo tells us that the key to Connection Parenting, not Controlling Parenting, is support. Children’s needs are best met by parents who’s needs are met. Parents need to learn that it is ok to date their spouse and to relinquish control of their kids to friends and family members once in while in order help each other become a parent and spouse.
See also Coaching Whole-Parent and Whole Child 1