We Have to Tell That Story!

This is another in the series of Mindful Moments which are written to guide us to think about what’s important for us to remember or keep-top-of-mind as we move through our week of personal activities and professional work.

This week’s Mindful Moment is: On Reflection

Why do so many of us turn from looking back or within, preferring instead to always move forward in a resolute manner? Is it dislike or discomfort with what might be uncovered? Is it disinterest, fear or deflection from thoughts or things we don’t want to delve into again? Or is it simply a matter of time and effort?

One fact that I know is that we tend to view past experiences, motivations and emotions from both positive and negative perspectives. Another truth, I think, is that reflecting on them is not something we race to do.

I’d like to not focus on the negative aspects of taking time to reflect. I instead ask you to step back and think about your personal and professional lives for what you unexpectedly and incalculably will unearth that will amaze you once again.

People, events, anecdotes, achievements and, yes, even stumbles or failures. How you lived through them. What you learned from them. Why they helped to shape your life. Reflection will uncover all of these things.

And it’s a good thing, too, because it’s your story that comes forth.

A story that is unique to you and, because it is yours, you may use it in any way you wish.

Wow! Think about this. You have a wealth of memories and experiences that can be interwoven in any way you want them to be, creating your story. It’s been ‘built’ by you and it stands at the ready, in service to you.

This is the starting point of your personal narrative and it’s yours to tell.

How do you want to tell it?

What do you want to do with it?

Have you really given enough thought to this?

This past weekend, I met Sambila, a woman from Burkina Faso. She asked what I did and as I explained my work with small business owners she mentioned her 19-year old daughter and the shea product business she has started. Sambila then shared that despite having good products, made from the shea trees of her native country, her daughter had few sales. Could I offer any advice?

After asking a few questions I realized that her daughter didn’t have one of the most important business building blocks — a personal narrative that would be the foundation of her brand. I asked Sambila to tell me why her daughter chose to make and sell shea products? She paused a moment and then Sambila spoke and her incredible story unfolded.

Sambila was 1 of 11 children and the only one in her family to go to on to higher education. She was proud of this and the fact that her only child was now in college and trying to start a business. Sambila further told me about her country’s cultural and, in some places, legal restrictions on who could collect shea nuts and from which farms or public lands. Generally, shea tree nuts were only to be harvested by those authorized or by those who owned the farm or people to which the farm owner granted permission. But, Sambila’s grandmother had been a respected elder and Sambila is a well-liked woman in her tribe so she was able to pick shea nuts from many farms or public lands. She was able to get a lot and many of very high quality.

When Sambila took her daughter to visit her family in Burkina Faso last summer, her daughter saw this and also how to use shea nuts in several different ways. She was so moved by what she witnessed and heard, that upon returning to Maryland she decided to start her own shea product business, selling lotions and soaps she made as well as products obtained from entrepreneurial women in Burkina Faso.

“We have to tell that story!” I exclaimed to Sambila. “This is a fantastic story that describes your daughter’s inherited resolve and the strong ancestral and cultural connection to her products, not to mention the rich heritage that inspires her.” I explained further that this is the type of personal narrative that can shape a business brand and evolve into marketing messages that emotionally supercharge the connections her daughter creates with her potential customers, ultimately motivating them to buy her shea products.

Sambila smiled broadly. She got it; she said, “I can’t wait to tell my daughter.”

It was fulfilling for me to know that I had helped a young entrepreneur. But what truly struck me was the reaffirmation of the strength and riches to be found in reflecting on the entirety of one’s full life experience to anchor one’s present life and work.

It’s commonly stated that marketing should be about your customers. I agree. But it has to be about you first, and that requires not just looking around today but stepping back and within, too.

This is my mindful moment for this week.

Would you like to share what you’ll be keeping top-of-mind this week? We’d love to know. It’s as easy as going to our new Facebook Page Monday’s Mindful Moment and writing a short post!

Tassey is a former IT executive who has worked for the federal government, the Nasdaq Stock Market and as a consultant to non-profit associations. Today she is owner of Level Up Solutions and works with entrepreneurs and small business owners ready to take a hard look at where they are today and plan for future business development based on strong value propositions and strategic solutions. She strives to position her clients to attain foundational and sustainable growth, operational management and revenue.

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