Let me ask you, what’s your life story?
When I meet people for the first time, as soon as the introductions are out of the way, I ask them to share their stories — to tell me who they are and where they’re from, where they’ve been and where they’re going. I want to understand what matters to them. And I have a very specific reason why I’m asking you about your own story right now.
I wish I could sit with you and hear what you think about your story so far. What kind of story is it? We all have a bit of humor in our stories, as well as some drama. We all have our ups and downs, wins and losses. There’s a bit of comedy, tragedy, and history in all of us. But overall, each of our lives tells a larger story. What do you want yours to say? I believe that no matter what “plot” each of our stories may follow, deep down we all want one thing: We want our lives to matter. We want our stories to be of significance. Nobody wants to feel like the world wouldn’t miss him if he’d never lived. Are you with me?
A Story Can Show Us That We Matter
Have you ever seen the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life? It’s the story of George Bailey, a man who dreams of traveling the world and building things, but who instead stays home in Bedford Falls, because he repeatedly chooses to do what he believes to be right for others. A point occurs in the movie where George experiences a moment of crisis, and he comes to believe that everyone around him would be better off if he had never been born. What he’s really saying is that his life doesn’t matter.
The great twist in the story occurs when, with the help of an angel, George gets a chance to see what his town and others’ lives would look like if he had never existed. Without him, it’s a dark and negative place. George comes to recognize the positive impact he had made because, time after time, he took action to do what he knew was right and helped other people. As Clarence the angel tells him, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” George had touched many lives in small ways and made a difference.
Have you looked at your life from that angle? Have you thought about what you want your life story to be? Do you believe you can live a life of significance, that you can do things that really matter? Can you make your story great?
With all my heart, I believe the answer to these questions is yes. You have it within your power to make your life a great story, one of significance. Every person can. Regardless of nationality, opportunity, ethnicity, or capacity, each of us can live lives of significance. We can do things that matter and that can make the world a better place. I hope you believe that. If you don’t now, I hope you will by the time you’re finished reading this guide.
John C. Maxwell, an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books, has been named an inaugural SUCCESS Ambassador. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek; best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies.