Siobhán Cahalan | What if…we let go of The Story?

“When you think of the trigger, do you feel that life, on some level, stopped there?”

Your story. Scan it for a moment. What elements show up as you scan your lifelong story? Intrigue? Adventure? Drama? Joy? Humor? Togetherness? Excitement? Challenge?

Struggle? Pain? Hiding? Mystery? Unknown?

What about the hiding, struggle, pain elements? Are they part of Your Story? Or are they part of The Story? The Story we carry around with us. The one stoically hidden behind the thick velvet curtains. Always ready to suck you in from the stage. Always ready to trip us up as soon as we venture to walk onto the stage. The one not wanting to be seen, yet permanently resides with us. The Story™ with us always. 

It is unspoken. Unexpressed. It may feel like a strand working its way through our life, permeating our whole life. It is like a strand of velcro attracting the hurts and regrets. Is that part of your story? Or is it The Story, the story we carry around?

What does it look like? When did it start? How old is it? How many years have we invested in it? Is it old enough to be a university graduate? Been with us for twenty years or more? Or a more recent addition? Five and a half years? 

Think back. What was the first trigger of The Story? 

When you think of the trigger, do you feel that life, on some level, stopped there? Time stopped. Life stopped. A still life gaining more value the older it gets. Becoming more vivid and rich and worthy. More established. With more authority. Visualize the trigger moment. How clear is that moment? What does it awaken? 

Naturally, we have done lots in our lives since that moment, but what has been the thing holding us back that we couldn’t put our finger on? Could it be that The Story has been the thing holding us back? The safety mechanism to keep us from danger and from doing the great things we long to do? Where have we been kicking and screaming? How have we been resisting?

Imagine it as a piece of string. Is the string leading back to that first trigger? And continuously pulling you back to that place?

Is The Story holding you back?

In an organizational context, what is the enterprises’ story? The organizational story which we publish on our websites? The perspective of the organization for public viewing. The organizational story which we design, write, edit, make true, publish. 

What about The Story of the organization? The painful parts – the losses, the shrinking pipeline, the struggle to meet financial targets, the impact of external events? How is the struggle and pain resulting from organizational development and growth processed? What are the internal coping mechanisms? What is lurking? What is unspoken? What is getting dusty in the cabinet, the thing that nobody wants to touch, or address, or talk about? The silence between the lines. 

What would a spring clean of organizational skeletons look like? What needs to be aired? How would it benefit the organization? Could lightening the baggage make way for a more agile and honest organization? One that could grow with lighter steps? 

What are four ways which may help us let go of The Story?

We could acknowledge it exists. We could realize that Our Story is separate from The Story. 

We could express it. We could look it in the face and let it go.

We could respect decisions made. We did the best we could based on who we were, who we are, the information we had and the information we didn’t.

We could recommit to responsibility. How has The Story being managing us? How can we regain control of who we are?

Wisdom Tool Number One: Acknowledge it Exists

Does this resonate with you? Is something popping up for you? A reflection on Your Story? A realization of The Story? And the separateness of the two. How we get to hold onto one of them and we can let go of the other. The Story is not Your Story. They are separate. 

“It being a separate entity allows us to do something about it.”

Realizing The Story exists is the first step. Realizing it is a separate entity is the second. It being a separate entity allows us to do something about it. We realize we have a choice. We realize we can let go of the sleepless nights. We can let go of the effects of clinging onto something, something invisible. Something which does more harm than good. Something which is not serving us in a positive way.

In an organization, what is the unspoken in the cabinet? What is covered in dust? What is under lock and key? Open the cabinet. Blow off the dust and look at what is there. Look it in the face.

Wisdom Tool Number Two: Express it

So it exists. Now what? Letting go may be easier said than done. What are some ways it can be expressed? How can it be acknowledged, expressed and let go?

“And get ready to say goodbye to it.”

Get clear on it. Imagine the details. Draw it. Write about it. Talk confidentially about it. Give it time. View the effects of having expressed it. Honor the process. And get ready to say goodbye to it.

In an organization, what is the culture of expression? How are people communicating? Or not communicating? Are things hidden under the carpet or openly discussed? Does the hierarchy in place form a ‘yes’ environment, with decisions made by one person or is there a culture of healthy openness and debate, decisions made based on a number of appropriate factors? 

How can The Story of the organization be expressed in the healthiest, most helpful way? How can it be broached? With whom? In what manner? Formal or informal? With a select few or a wider stakeholder group? What result is wanted?

Wisdom Tool Number Three: Respect Decisions Made

Expressing it may lead to a gratitude for how it has served you. It may lead to gratitude for the lightening you now feel upon its release. It may also allow us to view it rationally and know that we made the decisions we made. We did the things we did. We did the best in that moment, with who we were, who we are, with the information we had available to us and the information we didn’t. 

“It has formed us into who we are, how we act, how we manage our life, how we behave, how we react.”

Knowing that is the case, allows it to settle. A certain level of acceptance creeps in, maybe even honor. The Story is reduced in size; the monster recedes.

Accepting it may show that it has been dictating us. It has been living us. It has formed us into who we are, how we act, how we mange our life, how we behave, how we react. Instead of fitting ourselves into The Story, instead of allowing it to continue to create who we are, wouldn’t it be better if we took back the driving seat? 

In an organization, has there been a blame culture where the burden of The Story is placed? How can the expression of it shed light on how The Story evolved, and how it happened? In an objective and logical manner. Letting go of the blame, the goal to let it go and learn from it and make wiser decisions going forward?

Wisdom Tool Number Four: Recommit to Responsibility

How has living under The Story skewed who you are? How has it prevented you from being you? How has it distanced you from your values and how you really want to live your life? How has it, in some subconscious way, forced you to discard of responsibility? Where in our lives have we been less than we could be, for ourselves and others? With this newfound space, where can we now take more responsibility? 

“What habits has it forced upon us?” 

The Story is not us, and it is not OK to allow it have power over us and dictate everything we do and say. Instead of customizing ourselves to align with The Story, let us customize The Story to positively support us. What habits has it forced upon us? 

In an organization, where has growth and progress being stunted? Is there a pattern of oscillation? Going forward with a project and hitting a wall, not moving forward. Time and time again. What is behind the oscillation? Is it The Story? The unaddressed magnitude. The thing nobody dares address? The thing which is addressed and known but releasing it lies in the hands of one person? 

If we feel something is holding us back but we don’t know what it is, separate The Story from Your Story. Acknowledge The Story is not you and need not be in control of you. Express it in a healthy way. Accept you did the best you could in the situation, regain responsibility and move forward lighter.

“Good self-governance leads to good organizational governance.”

To further explore how you can access your innate wisdom, to better understand the elements making up your story and The Story and to make way for positive change in your life situation, leading to enhanced self-governance and organizational governance, schedule a coaching conversation with Siobhán. 

Drop a note to to set something up.

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