“I wish I had a better story.” That thought haunted me from the moment I started my blog. I wish I had a more amazing story of overcoming obstacles, facing down my demons, and ultimately of a glorious redemption. What I really wanted was a story that was easy to tell.

Have You Found Your Story?

I thought when I first launched my blog nearly three years ago that the only way to attract readers was to show my authority. To demonstrate that I had all the answers. To prove myself worthy of respect.

Boy was I wrong!

The truth is that people were drawn to my stories of struggle. My true stories of how I messed up, dug myself into holes, and ultimately climbed out. In other words, they followed this story arc:

Here’s my story >> Here’s what I learned from it >> Here’s what you can learn from it >> Here are your next steps

Time after time, those posts were not only the most popular, but the most enjoyable to write (and sometimes the most painful).

Despite knowing this, I kept most of my story private. After all, my inner critic told me, my story was boring. Not worthy of a Hollywood script. Not exciting or inspiring.

The pain of keeping your story inside

For nearly three years, I’ve been struggling with that inner critic. He says my story is boring, but others tell me that is not the case. When I open up to those closest to me, they all say “wow.”

I moved 13 times by the age of 14. My dad left us for another woman when I was two. My single mom worked three jobs to keep us on the right side of the tracks (but I could see the tracks from my bedroom window). I hardly knew my mom growing up.

As a result, I’ve dealt with decades of feeling unsettled and angry. I’ve struggled to allow others to get close to me.

In business, I’ve built successful companies from the ground up…and then watched them crash and burn. I’ve been fired four times (out of five jobs), including two times by the same company and once by my own father. But I’ve also found success and redemption in my current business. In three years, we tripled our income.

And for three years, I kept much of my story inside of me. Doing so was incredibly painful. As Maya Angelou said:

There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you may have noticed that changing. I’m intentionally following that story arc that I mentioned above. I don’t want to die with my story still inside of me.

The power of your story

Stories have the power to inspire in a way that bullet point lists simply don’t. Stories give us common ground. Stories ignite passions inside of us that make life beautiful.

Stories teach.

Stories engage.

Stories last.

Long after the five steps or the seven ways, stories last in our minds and hearts. We repeat them to friends and share them over dinner. We make them our own and pass them down to our children.

I have a story to tell. You have a story to tell.

I know my story now. What’s yours?

Thanks + a FREE Book

I owe my deepest thanks to many people for helping me realize this. To my wife first and foremost and to both my mastermind groups for showing me my true passions and the story arc I shared earlier.

And to Jeff Goins, whose forthcoming book, The Art of Work, helped me realize the power of my story. He shares my story in the book over the course of many pages (I never knew it could stretch that long). As I read his telling of my story…something came alive on the inside of me.

I already have a “better” story. It’s my story and while it may not make a great Hollywood script, I’m willing to share it and hope with all my heart that it inspires and teaches you as well.

P.S. You can get Jeff’s book plus $250 in bonuses for FREE (just pay shipping).

Do you know the central theme of your story? If so, what is it?

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7 thoughts on “Have You Found Your Story?

  1. Tim Gradoville says:

    Great post and thanks for opening up your story for those that follow you. I believe people identify more with stories of struggle, pain, misfortune because we all experience those issues daily. In the age of putting your best foot (and picture) forward on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, people tend to feel like they can never measure up to the perfect lifestyles portrayed on these social media sites. So when someone writes about a real struggle or pain they are or had been going through, it’s a breath of fresh air. The old saying, “You learn more from your mistakes than from your successes” still holds true today and people will learn more from your struggles and how you dealt with them than they would if you tell people how successful you are and leave out the part about how hard it was to get there.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Well said Tim! I’m not one to suggest posting on FB all of your family problems or addictions etc. if you aren’t a public figure/blogger, but in my case I think it’s appropriate.

      1. Tim Gradoville says:

        I agree that may not be the right forum to post that stuff and I’m not saying you have to post all of the dirt in your life. But I think it’s important for people to understand how hard it may have been to achieve that seemingly perfect thing you posted about. For instance, you posted that your current business has tripled its income in the past 3 years. You could’ve left it at that but you have also talked about how your previous attempts at running a business failed and what you learned from those that were able to get you to a position of making better decisions. People are more interested in how you got to a certain place or achievement, not so much that you got there.

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂

  2. Jon Stolpe says:

    Stretching is definitely a major theme to my story.

  3. Aaron Armour says:

    Thanks Matt – I love using the power of story as well, but I have to admit I don’t often share pieces of my own story for many of the same reasons you share. Thanks for being bold and courageous to share your story with us.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Try it sometime Aaron. It’s very effective.

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