Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What's Your Story?

Donald Miller has been speaking, and is writing a book, on living your life as a story. M. Night Shyamalan, in his Lady in the Water, illustrates how the elements of story interact in both conventional and surprising ways. Stranger Than Fiction inspires us that change is still possible in our own life's story (especially if it has become meaningless or monotonous).

Back at the turn of the century, when I was doing graduate study in interpersonal communication, I came across a delightful little book by Toben & Joanne Heim, What's Your Story: An Interactive Guide to Building Authentic Relationships. The applications for this book are endless, and I have used it in team building, small group facilitation and for writing exercises.

In an attempt to make this blog more interactive, I thought it would be fun to start posting questions from the book and inviting visitors to comment with their own answers. Of course, if you are inspired by the question, you could post a longer response on your own blog. If you choose to do that, please comment here with a link to your response (to keep the conversation active). I will add a "stories" label to the categories drop-down box (which sorely needs to be updated), so that all of the questions can be accessed in one place over time. Of course, if no one responds, I will eventually discontinue this feature. So, play along - it will be fun, I promise!

From the book:
Our lives are compilations of our stories. The stories of where we came from, where we are, where we are going, what we think, and what we believe all work together to make us who we are. At our core, we are walking anthologies made up of the stories of our experiences. By telling our stories, we open the book of our lives to share with others. And by listening to other people's stories, we learn why they are the way they are.

Telling your story can be scary. It's not easy to let people see you for who you really are. But it's worth it. You learn more about who you are. You learn more about others. And through it all you begin to play a part in the stories of others as you grow and influence each other's thoughts, ideas and lives.

So now, the first question:
Does your job reveal who you are to others? Why, or why not?


RLC said...

Oooh fun! I love to hear a good story.

Margaret Feinberg said...

Yes---because my job is about being honest with myself and others. Which isn't an easy task.

Kimberly said...

*I am not writing another post until I receive at least 5 stories (other than my own)*

"Is your job still going well?" I get this question a lot, and I have learned to be ok with smiling when I answer, "Yes. It's wonderful."

It was only 3 or so years ago that I left the corporate world to return to a non-profit where I had worked several times before. I had a passion for that work, a passion for helping people, for seeing families made whole and lives restored. I still have this passion, but during my tenure there my soul was crushed. Many of you have heard the stories of manipulation and anxiety and helplessnes - and that didn't even involve the clients!

When I stepped back and looked at how I had shifted with ease into an administrative position from my original direct-client-contact position (though I still loved working with clients), I began to recognize that this is a place where the Lord continues to use my skills. Perhaps I am designed that way for a reason. Perhaps I should give it a try.

Leaving the non-profit and returning to the corporate world, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for leaving the clients, with so many intertwined needs. I felt guilty for leaving the organization, which was slowly tearing itself apart. I felt guilty for selling-out.

It took several months to be ok with not feeling stressed about work. I began to realize the compliments I was receiving were genuine, that not everyone puts their heart into what may seem to be a tedious job.

I enjoy taking care of details. I enjoy doing things that make other people's jobs easier. I enjoy taking on new projects and figuring out how to make them work. I was designed for this job... and that is a good thing.

People ask me exactly what an Executive Assistant does, and I respond with "whatever needs to be done". I make coffee. Sometimes I pick up breakfast. I serve as a Systems Administrator for a loan tracking program. I plan lunch meetings, and evening receptions and corporate retreats. I keep up with our real estate, file insurance claims, pick up kids from school, take the car to the dealership and interact with civic dignitaries. I manage our ballpark suite and sometimes I even get to shop. There are mundane tasks and out-of-the-blue requests, and it is never dull (except when it is, and then I enjoy those moments too).

My job may not represent my creative side, though I have had plenty of opportunities to put it to use (and people are always surprised), but it does represent my practical side. And I can't help but believe that it will help when I finally get to the Bed-and-Breakfast.

My mother always said I got my dad's booksmarts and her common sense, and I like to think that I am a balanced person - equal measures of practicality and whimsy. Do I miss being able to say that I help heal lives for a living? Sure. But right now, perhaps its my own life that needs a little healing. And the opportunity to use those skills will present itself again, but this time I will be able to respond as a more healthy individual.

jimmie glover said...

wow, what a question. this is hard for me. casue i lke my job. i enjoying helping those who can not help themselfs but has no longer become fullfilling. it was where i need to be when i got it. but it was a transition job. something that would alow me to slow down and heal a little. well i have healed a lot. and now that as has been sadi of me, comfortable in my own skin. it is time to move on. in so many ways my job is a reflection of how i feel in my life. comfortable in just being mondane. seeing the good things there but knowing that there is so much better out there for me. god has used me in my job and in life but there are bigger mountians to climb. bigger jobs to tackel. that is hard casue i like comfortable. i like being rested but it is time to move on. know the lookng and waiting. not my time but his. just like in my life. i love the kids i take care of. everyone sayus wow what a special person you are. the thing is , it is easy for me to take care of people. i love taking others burdens. but it is not chanllenging. i am not growing. just like in my life. i love my family i love where i live but i am not growing. i am not being challeneged anymore so time for me to move on.

Angela said...

how fun!
...does your job reveal who you are to others?
I work in a rehabilitation home for kids with behavioural problems (ah, they've been kicked out of all the other foster homes so they get sent to us to fix 'em up pretty). i was working the overnight a couple of weeks ago, mopping the floor, and a kid came up from his bedroom and asked me, "what's with all the cleaning and why are you working so hard?"
i told him that a long time ago i read brother lawrence's "the practice of the presence of god" and so i try to make everything that i do some sort of conversation with god.
some nights all i do is cut corners and curse while i mop and wash and fold 120 loads of laundry, clean up poop and scape snot off the tub. some nights i get it right and have a good chat with god. i think all those nights speak to the journey i'm on as someone seeking god in all things, whether anyone else recognizes that is possibly inconsequential, though living that truth is easier said than done.

Ines said...

*fine* don't write another post until you get 5! :-) well, I wrote a story, but I don't know if it has to do with my job...I mean, it could tie up....i'm supposed to pray for people, and sometimes that could include rice. :-)It's here:

amber said...

Thought provoking question no doubt, one I've given thought to before.

I'm a librarian (an information scientist, if you will), which I think portrays me as boring, uptight, anti-social, and frumpy. A ten year old I was hanging out with recently scrunched up her face and said, Oooh, I don't like those jobs, when I told her what I did. It hurt a little. Since what got me here was a sincere desire to help people and spread the joy of literacy. Right now I'm working in the academic arena and solving puzzles all day long and while it is fulfilling in a lot of ways ( I too like dealing in details) it doesn't really reflect me as a total person. I sometimes think I'd like to be in a more creative field, though maybe I haven't been diligent enough about looking into my current options.

I read a really good book called The Renaissance Soul that has helped me to put my multifarious passions in perspective and made me feel that even if my job isn't a completely accurate representation of me it's okay. Sometimes jobs are merely a matter of generating a necessary income. I feel lucky to like what I do.

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...


Yes, my job reveals things about me...wife, mom, Girl Scout leader, homemaker, writer...

And because I write for a living, well, I tell my story a lot as part of it. I think books are always more fun to read when you feel like you're sitting down for a conversation with the author.

Joanne Heim