Tell Your Story, the Good and the Bad

This is a guest post by Geoff Talbot. He is a filmmaker, blogger, and dreamer. Geoff blogs at Seven Sentences. He is also active on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Using social networking to promote our ideas or to sell a product or a vision can be a dangerous thing. It is so easy to fall into the whale’s mouth and exaggerate, inflate, or cover over the broken image of who we really are. In our eagerness to impress and sell, we can easily stumble and fall.

A Distraught Businesswoman with Her Head in Her Hands - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DNY59, Image #15936915

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DNY59

While projecting a too-good-to-be-true image may produce short-terms gains, it results in long-term disappointment. Eventually we can’t hide the truth of who we are. There is too much information already out there. The truth is that most of these people are just like you and me.

There is only one thing for us to do: We must simply tell our story, both the good and the bad.

Yes, the truth will find us out, but it will also set us free.

There are huge advantages to telling your story, whether it be via a blog, a tweet, or Facebook. It can be the story of your company (a group of people), the story of the your product (what people created), or the story of your life. In the end, people want to hear stories about other people—just like them.

There are three reasons why:

  1. People long for connection. When you tell a human story, it resonates.
  2. People invest in other people, not in inanimate objects.
  3. People may not be able to smell that “something is too good to be true,” but when they put in their mouths and chew on it, they won’t like the taste. Human stories—especially those of failure—create loyalty.

We all have a natural tendency to show our best side and to hide our flaws. But it is those moments in life when we are caught off-guard—when we make a mistake or when we have to apologize—that really engage other people.

This is why we must not hide the bad parts of our story from those who have chosen to follow and support us. Friendship, after all, is about sharing.

For this reason, I would encourage you to:

  1. Tweet about your accidents and mistakes. You don’t have to over-do it, but show your humanity.
  2. Blog about your disappointments and failures. These include the things you learned, the things you wished you had known before you started a project, or that relationship that ended in failure. You can do this without dishonoring anyone.
  3. Ask for help. Reach out for ideas, solutions, and moral support. Engage your social media audience on a level playing field. When they know you are sincere, 99.9% of people will do anything to help.

In conclusion, consider these questions: What stories that you are afraid to tell? What are you holding onto with a clenched fist that prevents you from reaching out and receiving with an open hand?Like my acting teacher used to say, “The truth will set you free, but first it will really hack you off!”

Question: How could your stories of failure help someone else? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    Quote:
    There is only one thing for us to do: We must simply tell our story, both the good and the bad.

    We all need to do this more, in life and on our blogs.   

    You’ve inspired me to make a change on my blog from a teaching voice to a sharing voice–focusing more on my story and what I’ve been through in my life.  I think it will give more credence to what I am teaching.

    Thanks Geoff.

    • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

      Dave,

      You will find that telling more of your story is a win-win.  

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree.  Telling your story help people see you as a real person, with good and bad points just like the rest of us.  It creates trust. 

    • Geoff Talbot

      Thanks Dave… it is a constant challenge to avoid being aloof and stand alongside rather than in front… I am constantly humbled by my own inability to always remain in this posture.

      But it is how we are called to live and there is real life in it!

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      I like that quote! 

    • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

      Thanks Geoff and Dave.  Dave, I hadn’t thought about the teaching vs. sharing voice.  

      I was recently struggling with content to write about in my blog posts…feeling I’d run out of fresh things to teach.  There is loads to share…without getting into “tmi”, hopefully I can expose share some experiences that have affected how I think, in a way that will help others and  help me to better connect.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I recently read a book “Permission to speak freely” by Anne Jackson. She elegantly described about her story of failure and how she overcame from that in a poignant style. She recounted how she messed up things and how she recovered with the help of Christ in her life. The narration was honest and straightforward. It made me realize that sharing sets us free from the heavy burden inside our heart. I really enjoyed the book and that was illuminating.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I really enjoyed, Anne’s book, too. 

    • Anonymous

      As a young man I wandered the world feeling like I was the only dude that struggled with sexual purity… Oh the relief and (somewhat paradoxically) the freedom that came from sharing my struggle…

      Sharing failure breaks the illusion that we are “alone” are failures… thanks for sharing Uma. Will have to check out Anne’s book.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Goff! We need to understand imperfection is perfection in our life. Hope you will enjoy the book.

      • Joe Lalonde

         Geoff, so true. Often, especially in churches, we tend to put on masks and act like we don’t struggle. It is so much more encouraging when we are able to share our struggles and know we are not alone.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I’ve met people who seem to wear masks over their masks, so that if you uncover something, it’s still not really their real persona.  Sad, really…  

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        It’s a great one! 

  • http://www.reviewbelief.com shopping on the net

    The good is that I have got income from my internet business
    The bad is that it’s not too much,lol

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I am not seeking to toot my own horn here, but I have sought to be totally transparent in telling my story (the good, the bad and the very, very ugly)  on my blog, in the Bible study I wrote and in my speaking. There is already enough FAKE in the Christian world.  People want to see the real deal and know how those of us who call ourselves Christians really deal with life. Not all the pie in the sky, by and by, but how does having Jesus in my heart make a difference in how I handle the stuff of life.  Over and over I have women tell me that my honesty in my speaking and in the Bible study encouraged them.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. We need more of this. It resonates in a world desperate for the truth.

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        I learned the importance of telling my story when I attended CLASS (Christian Leaders and Speakers Seminars). I had been speaking professionally in the secular/medical world for many years and in that setting there was no reason to include personal stories. So, when the Lord called me to Christian speaking I continued in the same speaking style I had always used. When I attended CLASS and went through the critique process the small group leader’s only suggestion was that I include personal stories into my messages. I had purposely stayed away from doing so because I wanted the focus to be on Jesus, rather than Leah. CLASS taught me that telling stories of what JESUS had done in Leah’s life does not make it about Leah. That critique has revolutionized my speaking and engaged the audience in new ways.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          This is excellent counsel. Stories captivate an audience more than almost anything else you can do in a speech. The same is true with writing.

        • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

          I went through the same process with my small group teaching. But in blogging, speaking, and teaching – connection is so important. And hardly anything connects like a personal story.

        • http://www.paulawhidden.wordpress.com Paula

          Leah, I’ve heard about CLASS seminars, how long ago did you attend?  I’ve been wondering about seeking more direction from them.  It seems like there is a fine line we walk.  As a blogger, it can be self-indulgent to spend too much time on me.  Do you know what I mean? 

          • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

            Paula, I attended CLASS in the fall of 2008. I found it to be well worth the money that I spent to attend, and in fact, I may go back in the future.

            I agree there is a fine line, however, if the blog you write for is your own blog, then I think people expect to hear about you in some measure. On my oersonal blog, I try to do about 75% of the posts that contain spiritual teaching and 25% that are just fun posts that are more about me and my life. With that said, most of my spiritual teaching posts still contain at least a tidbit of application from my own life.  When I write for other blogs/websites, such as CBN.com and Internet Cafe Devotions, I still incorporate stories from my own life as I seek to apply the lessons about which I write.

            Blessings to you.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, authenticity in a world of falsehood stands out, and that’s what Christians need to do!  Thanks, Leah. 

      • Anonymous

        Hmmm… I live in Hollywood where the elevator sales pitch happens in cafe’s, cars, restaurants… everywhere.

        I say this because we needn’t think that Christians are alone in their struggle for authenticity. This desire to be more than we are is inherent in the human condition. What do you think Rob?

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          I don’t think Christians are alone in the need for authenticity. You’re
          right.

    • Anonymous

      When we are honest about our normalcy… I think we open up the possibility of Christ for others. The very thing that a “pious spirit” prohibits.

      Awesome Leah… so good that you are brave in your transparency. True Leadership.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Agreed.  I’ve recently got to the point where I can tell some of my story.  It’s been a frustrating road for my wife and I, with some job transitions, that we’ve only recently been able to move past the hurt.  Sometimes it takes a while.  But I shared deeply with a new friend the other day, for the first time really, and it felt great to finally be able to let it all out.

  • Marshahubler

    Excellent suggestions. I think I’m finally catching on to this social networking thing. I’m helping writers with my writers’ tips blog and on my horse facts blog, I feature Super Keystone Stables fans and share horse facts about my own horses and all kinds of other equines. Kids love that. I also think consistency is the key. I post once a week on each blog. I have some friends who aren’t faithful even once a month. I can’t see how they’ll ever get a following.
    Marsha Hubler, author of the Keystone Stables books
    http://horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/todays-horse-facts-marshas-third-horse/

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

     This is huge. Particularly with blogging, it’s easy to sound like an expert but not actually DO what you’re teaching. When you give real life examples it connects with people and gives them hope. I think @loswhit over at Ragamuffin Soul does a great job at this. 

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

       Definitely!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Lindsey Nobles is great at this, too.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I follow Lindsey on my RSS feed.  She is totally transparent.  It’s really refreshing! 

    • Anonymous

      Great call David!

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    I believe there is a fine line between being transparent, open, and honest and telling too much. Yes, people connect with us when they realize that we are willing to admit mistakes, shortcomings, etc. However, I do not believe that people connect to people who are fishing for a compliment or a “pick me up” statement.

    We all know that life is challenging – whether we are willing to admit it or not. My favorite blogs talk about productivity, etc. but the writers are also good storytellers. That’s why we love movies. All of my favorite movies are about ordinary people going through a huge challenge and being changed in the process.

    So, yes, transparency and being honest is a good thing when writing. I’ve only been writing on my blog for about a month, but it has already been liberating and causes me to challenge my thoughts daily and question my motives. 

    • Karl Mealor

       “I believe there is a fine line between being transparent, open, and honest and telling too much. ” 

      I was thinking this as I read the article.  Sometimes, I hear speakers share stories that probably should have been kept private (especially when they involve other people).  Having said this, we are drawn to transparency.  

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        Thanks, Karl. I think you’re right: people are drawn to transparancy, but
        not to blabbermouths :)

        • Karl Mealor

          Lol.  There is a difference, isn’t there? 

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            Yes, yes there is :)

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          Transparency is very important. I actually have a post coming out about that next week as apart of my “Defining Character” series. 

          • Karl Mealor

            Looking forward to reading it! 

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        That there is! You don’t want to just blast the internet with negativity. Rather than that, you want to tie it in with something meaningful (ie. How God got you through it). 

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Sometimes, you have to know what not to share also.  I agree…

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I agree about the fine line, Jason. One of the keys in sharing is to let others know what we learned from our mistakes. If we are just negative and complaining it won’t get us very far. 

      • Karl Mealor

        I was trying to think of the criteria for where to draw the line.  Your point is well made.  Don’t share something just because you’re trying to be transparent; be willing to share mistakes that you learned from. 

        • Clinton

           “that you learned from.”
          Excellent point. Thanks

          • Karl Mealor

            I just wish I had figured out a way to word it without ending a sentence with a preposition.  Please don’t tell Mrs. Schwartz (my high school English teacher).    “…from that you learned”?

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            “that from which you learned?”

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

       I agree Jason. I was trying to find this woman a job and she kept telling her interviewers that she’d had brain surgery and all the details. Time and again the HRs would tell me, “If she tells that much about her brain surgery, what’s she going to tell about the inner workings of our company?” It wasn’t the fact of her surgery that troubled them, it was a question of confidentiality.

      The fact is, people don’t really care about hearing the details of your trials and troubles. What they want to hear is HOW you got through them so they can apply the same, or close to the same, strategy.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree with the fine line comment. Knowing the difference between too little and too much is an art.

      • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

        If you had to err to one side or the other.  Which Way would you lean?  Too little or too much? 

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Too much. Why? Because unless you are a psychopath, most of us are too guarded. We are hiding, unwilling to show our true selves.

    • Anonymous

      Great comment Jason and a fantastic discussion… since I wrote the article I thought I would reply with my own two cents…

      …Been willing to share everything is not the same as sharing everything…

      To me it is more about a heart posture and having an attitude of humility and transparency. Deciding not to hide, not to pretend, not to be unauthentic…

      It is certainly not about “having no filter… and letting everything hang loose,” I don’t see the dignity or conversely the “humility” in that.

      Transparency and openness to me aren’t rules… it’s a posture birthed out of a grace filled heart.

      Again great discussion! Thanks. Geoff

    • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

       I, too, agree with the fine line statement. You should “listen” to your audience, get a feeling for them to know how far to go and when to stop.

      But on the other hand what do you think about this:

      What if that “tell it all without regrets” personality is simply who you are, should you force yourself you quite because your brain tells you that it is enough when your feeling still pushes you further?

      Luckily, I’m not that type of person, I just wondered about what that would be like.

      Personally I believe that there is no such thing as a good or a bad speaker, story teller etc. It is all about finding a suitable audience.

      - Philipp

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Interesting thought.  I hadn’t considered that yet.  I suppose those “tell-it-all-ers” have an audience too.  Just not me :)

         “Personally I believe that there is no such thing as a good or a bad speaker, story teller etc. It is all about finding a suitable audience.” — Agreed!

  • http://www.cathrynhasek.com Cathryn

    Oh, thank you, thank you for this post!  I have been struggling with the idea of whether or not to “write what I know.”  That old addage that hit me in the face with I first started writing.  My blog is very self-focused, but that is the only way I know how to write!!  I share my experiences and pray my mistakes or good fortunes connect with someone else.  It is scary when you read writing blogs that say, “Don’t write about yourself.”  They are everywhere!!  I love your idea that everyone knows you anyway, so why not be more transparent!! 

    • Anonymous

      It’s always good to start with what you know Cathryn… Keep writing.

  • http://www.lifebeyondsport.com Stephanie Zonars

     So true, Michael! I recently spoke at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Convention and of all the things I shared, coaches seemed to remember a story in which I “told on myself.” 

    I explained how my business coach gave me feedback on the way I sometimes come across when I answer the phone (flat, unenthusiastic) and how important that awareness has been to my personal and professional growth. It drove home my point that tone is a bigger part of communicating than our words while also demonstrating that I need to grow and improve in areas just like they do. 

    Though we think that our audience won’t keep listening or reading unless we project that we “have it all together,” exactly the opposite is true. Telling the truth about ourselves—particularly our mistakes and blunders—builds trust, rapport, and as you mentioned, loyalty.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The posts in which I share a failure always result in the most traffic and engagement.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        We love to see others fall on their face.  For some reason, I can accept my own frailties better when I know that I’m not alone in them.  Unfortunate, sometimes, but encouraging at the same time. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much Stephanie… 

  • Carol Fletez

    I am concerned that the people we interact with on social media are or may not be our friends but our ‘friends’. People I know are using social media to find work; how many companies will welcome this kind of vulnerability you suggest? Can one ‘out’ one’s own ‘failure’ at Company A without expecting economic or social reprisal? Or even one’s own personal failures without them being taken out of context of a whole life? Sometimes success is as fragile as our vulnerabilities. The current news is outing the frailties of people in high places; should we do this to ourselves?

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

       Carol, something I found out in corporate America is that when I found someone who had failed, but survived with an excellent lesson learned, those were the ones that gave more to the “company” than someone who apparently didn’t make mistakes. The ones who were up front with me, I found I could trust more than those who carried a shield of perfection.

      Another thing I discovered was the company that demanded perfection with no mistakes had much more turnover, fewer loyal customers, and not a fun place to work. While fun isn’t a requirement, it certainly takes away huge stresses in the sales force and makes sales reps much more productive.

      • Carol Fletez

         I do agree with being up front as you put it but I question whether putting this on the Internet is the best place to share it. And I agree with you about the company that wants perfection is going to have much more turnover. One of the great fun companies to work with is Southwest Airlines!

        And I am sure there are many others. I admit to personal honesty because among other things I am so willing to recognize how much I do not know! But it has taken a while for companies to
        recognize the basic need for that even! But I will find out!

        I am working with people suffering job loss and trying to get re-employed.

        There is probably something any one of those unemployed did that could have affected the chain of events that led to their job loss but until someone is willing to admit their own participation in that, which is what I hear from the original post, confessing may not help.

        And many unemployed, who view that loss as personal failure,  are in ‘fight’ mode then even ‘flight’ mode long before personal introspection. Many signed legal agreements that bar them from even mentioning anything negative that happened where they worked. So that leaves the personal confessional and the ears of a good friend. Not the internet…

        Thanks for your comment and reply nevertheless!

        • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

           Carol, I do understand. So often when people are fired, or let go, the “fight” mode kicks in. It is devastating and demeaning.

          You are correct about “sharing” on a blog about company matters and stupid things done in the past. I saw many people lose positions for dogging their boss or company on their blog. That is a serious lack of judgment which company leadership should take very seriously. By no means are all decisions made by leadership perfect or correct for the company’s benefit which includes termination decisions.

          I have been bullied by “bosses” in several of my jobs and fired in two of them because of manufactured, false evidence. I didn’t even know I was being bullied, so I didn’t know how to handle the situation. No matter that I proved the accusations false, the decision was already made so out the door I went. Crushing experiences. I know better now! I’m writing a book about it called “When Christians Hurt Christians”… and, yes, Christians can be bullies, too.

          Corporate America is a vicious place to be, so I agree that sharing too much of certain kinds of information will lead to heartache, trouble, and possible job loss.

          • Lynne

            “Another thing I discovered was the company that demanded perfection with
            no mistakes had much more turnover, fewer loyal customers, and not a
            fun place to work.”

            Exactly my experience as an employee of a corporate bully, who, as a bonus, was unethical. It was a miserable, toxic work environment with high turnover. I fired him.

            I have never blogged about this experience and never mentioned the company or its owner by name on Facebook. It seemed the wiser course to let sleeping dogs lie.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Absolutely, this is the wiser course. The Bible doesn’t call us to confess one another’s sins, but to confess our sins to one another (see James 5:16).

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            And, identifying the other individual can come close to slander or libel, if not handled correctly.  Sometimes it best to take the high road and retain integrity. 

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Again, I think the main guideline should be to confess our own sins not the sins of others. I commented above on how I handle it when both are involved.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Seth Godin talks about this in his new book, Poke the Box. He argues the same point. (You’re in good company!)

      • Anonymous

        Thanks again for discussion this… Our lives are always open to the opinions and judgments of others.

        I think in some ways… the “interview” has extended out of the office and onto the internet…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think we can be transparent and vulnerable without outing or implicating anyone else. We have to use discretion. Even when I am writing about a failure in the past, I always change the names or the circumstances a bit, so as not to embarrass others. Most publishers require this in non-fiction books in order to avoid legal liability.

  • Elaine W. Miller

    You are so right! When I wrote my book, “Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives” I literally typed with my eyes closed and my mind repeating “No one is going to read this!” I knew I had to be honest about my own marriage if I was ever going to help someone else’s marriage. To have an attitude “Well my marriage is wonderful, why isn’t yours?” would not be true or resonate with a reader. Pleased to say, my book has helped many marriages. Thanks for your honesty, Michael Hyatt. Your blog is an encouagement to me. Have a wonderful sabbatical.

    Elaine W. Miller
    Author/Speaker
    http://www.SplashesofSerenity.com  

  • http://Busyness.com Dr. Brad Semp

    Hey Geoff – you are right on!  Far too often we try to separate business from emotion (I’ve made this mistake so many times in the past).  Stories are what connect us with our prospects and clients and are the key to generating an emotional bond that cultivates trust and opens up wallets.   

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

       That is so very true, Brad, because it is what helps us to find commonalities which puts us on the same side of the table so to speak.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Brad… great point. I love the emotional tie in.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Excellent advice, Geoff! I’ve found that my most vulnerable, somewhat embarrassingly so, blog posts have allowed people to identify me much more than my thorough well-thought and put-together ones. It is when I share my struggles that many are encouraged and will rally around me and my stories. And if I’m honest, those are the types of leaders I want to follow, so why should I be surprised?

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes! This is one of the reasons why I follow MichaelHyatt.com, because he’s
      a leader that’s transparent.

      • Karl Mealor

        Ditto! 

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Thanks, Robert. I have to work at it!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        And you aren’t the only one! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Interestingly, I discovered the same thing with parenting. Being honest with my children, especially when I had failed and asked their forgiveness, kept me connected to them.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        I think the same is true with discipleship, as well, which is a form of parenting.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        So true!!! 

    • Anonymous

      Great stuff Jeff with a J.  Is it still difficult to be vulnerable and tell those embarrassing stories?

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        It’s a daily discipline, but it is easier, I think, the more you do it.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Agreed.  There is a place for confidence, but too much can drive people away very quickly.  Transparency and that “real-ness” factor create far more loyalty.

  • Matt

    Michael, thanks for this post. It is absolutely valuable to our souls health.  Ann Jackson, author of PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY calls it “The Gift of Going Second”. In other words we tell our story first, this give others the confidence to share their stories second. We created a doorway of truth for others. This is why we must be real about our humanity. Others need us to be honest just as much as we need to be honest with ourselves.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love this whole notion of “the gift of going second.” Anne does a great job living this as well.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Matt… we need to be leaders in transparency… Geoff

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Some people have created entire businesses from their story. Mountain climber, Aron Ralston from the recent movie 127 Hours comes to mind. Although I haven’t seen it, seems like a lot of people connect with it. Another one that comes to mind is the homeless guy with the voice, Ted Williams. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWG6zNf4xY0 — I think we all have a story we can tell to enrich others’ lives. Sometimes we need to reach deep down and grab the courage to share. I believe we can find the courage in the knowledge that we are, in fact, helping others. Thanks for sharing the post. Good stuff.

    • Anonymous

      Several times in my life Mark… I have “ventured” my way into a position where I really had “no” material possession…

      But I had my brave, shaky, strong, fearful story and it really spoke to others.

      Thanks for reading and commenting friend.

      Geoff

      • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

        No problem Geoff. You tell your story well. I checked out your blog and like what you have over there. It’s content rich with a great story. Also, hopped over to twitter and clicked the follow link. Hope to run into you soon. 

        Blessings,
        Mark
        Twitter: @WMarkThompson
        Facebook.com/WMarkThompson

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferLynKing Jennifer King

    Geoff,

    This is an excellent challenge and a great twist to the usual professional advice given in the Web world. When I think about it, all the stories that Michael has shared here on his blog, the ones where he struggled with something in particular and yet triumphed over that struggle, those are the blogs that make a huge impact on me. And those are the stories that I remember.

    The challenge I feel is because I do come from a place that begs to be shared with others (as we all do). However, how do you recommend being vulnerable, sharing giant chasms of pain, without causing others involved pain? Obviously, withholding names is important. But when the stories come down, singular people are at the other end of struggle. In my mind, acknowledging those hurts and disappointments in public at the very least borders the line of honor and dishonor. The past is a big well I draw from in writing fiction and my novels. But in airing it in the non-fiction realm of a blog or public speaking is a different story.

    But, I agree. Sharing our experiences does help others, as well as helping ourselves … though, thus far, I’ve always erred on keeping my struggles in the private arena. Thank you for the food for thought.

    -Jennifer King

    • http://www.northernskyart.wordpress.com Beth West

      “However, how do you recommend being vulnerable, sharing giant chasms of pain, without causing others involved pain? ”

      I would like to see this addressed too.  I wonder if Michael is talking about sharing our struggles to a certain level.  It is encouraging to know how others have struggled and failed, then struggled and succeeded.  Yet I can imagine many kind of stories that would damage lives if they were published. 

      I’m greatly in agreement with Michael’s premise that human connection is something that people crave and being real can inspire loyalty.  I’ll look forward to finding out what he would say about using discretion in what or how we share.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        I think, when you share stories about how you made mistakes, and learned
        from them, or when you failed, and corrected, those are the stories that
        people like. They don’t like the posts that are just complaining… “My
        life is so hard,” etc.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Thanks, Beth. Great question. (By the way, I didn’t write this article; it is a guest post from Geoff Talbot.)

        Do you remember the story in Genesis where Noah’s sons covered his nakedness? I think this is a good guideline. I think we have to be careful to cover others sins while being willing to reveal our own. The Bible exhorts us to confess our sins to one another, but this doesn’t give us the license to confess others’ sins.

        Whenever I am telling a story that involves someone else’s sin, I either (a) get their permission first or (b) change the names and circumstances slightly to protect them. I never make the other person’s sin the point, but rather my response to it.

        I hope that helps.

        • http://www.northernskyart.wordpress.com Beth West

           Nope – I hadn’t realized Geoff wrote the article.  Sorry!  You suggested some good guidelines though.  I’m amazed at how the last few days of posts here are drawing people out.  I get the feeling people are carrying around a lot of issues that they need an opportunity to share.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I think you are right, Beth. People are carry around a lot of pain and need the opportunity to share.

          • Lynne

            I agree, Michael, and I believe blogging is such a popular thing because our society has let community fall by the wayside. Blogging and social media have taken the place of face-to-face interaction–as Andy Stanley puts it, doing life together. Real relationships are becoming more difficult; at least that’s my perspective.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am slowly trying to catalog all my failure stories in Evernote, so that I can draw on them when I speak and write. I certainly have plenty of them!

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        A failure journal! :)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Great idea!  Takes a lot of courage to have those so available! 

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for your wonderful and honest comments to the article I wrote…

      For me… you need to forget the medium (the internet) for just one moment and look at the principle behind sharing. Clearly being slanderous in the context of community (any community) is not good, and it’s important to be forgiving (for your own sake and others) and not to try and exact any revenge/justice…

      …for the pen is mightier than the sword and the key stroke is now mightier than then all…

      Just don’t try and hide your pain or your story. Find safe places to share it and find honorable ways of sharing it.

      Openness is not a rule…. it’s a posture

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        “Openness is not a rule…. it’s a posture.” I like that.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

     Mistakes and failures are the learning tools of life. When we can share our struggles and relate what we learned from them, it makes us real. If we sit in the mess, blame others, and want people to feel sorry for us, we might get some sympathy but it doesn’t move us forward.

    As John Maxwell says…”Failure is an inside job.  So is success.  If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first.  You can’t let the failure outside you get inside you.” 

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      People learn from their own mistakes, but they can also learn from others’
      mistakes.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I just wish I could learn more from others’ than I do my own… 

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Amen… it’s hard to have to go through your own experiences, but those can
          be the MOST educational.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a good word, John. Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      nothing fails like success… Dallas Willard

  • http://www.storywrought.wordpress.com Lizzie

    This is a great reminder.  People are the most endearing when they’re transparent, displaying flaws that make them beautifully human.  I work in publishing but am trying to write on my own and blog about the process.  Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to show that side of me that doubts and gives up and gets frustrated.  But I would rather read about that kind of stuff more than anything else.  Thanks for this advice!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It really does take courage, I think, more than anything else.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Lizzie for your kind comments…

      Transparency is beautiful and strangely enough it makes a person more mysterious. Hence the best actors are the most open… and conversely also the most mysterious

  • Julieb2903

    I maybe 50 years old but I have learned more about life in the last 5 years than I ever would have dreamed. I just finished my own story, no holds barred, no secrets, just an open book. I enjoyed it for all the tears and memories it brought back…. I believe others stories can help us move forward. I also believe you cannot move forward until you are willing to leave the past behind.  Now with my own website, I am enjoying writing, and I enjoyed telling my own story. I am not sure who will want to read about a 50 year old woman from the UK and how her life is turning out but that doesnt stop me pressing forward and I would urge anyone else to do the same.

    • Anonymous

      Keep telling your story Julie… Thanks for sharing

  • http://twitter.com/jonstolpe Jon Stolpe

    I’ve received many comments on-line and in person about how my blog helped someone.  It’s interesting, because I usually consider my blog to be something that helps me to process what’s going on in my life.  I haven’t seriously considered the positive impact that it could have on others even when sharing the not so great parts.  Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing Jon… your processing connects with the way others process and thus they don’t feel so alone…

      Geoff

  • Destiney

    I posted a very transparent blog yesterday about my short comings as a parent. Several of my friends identified with me and were both encouraging as well as shared my own frustrations. It’s nice to know you’re not the only one out there on the big sea of life, even if people are finding it hard to admit lately that we are in fact not alone. :) (www.howtheothersidelive.blogspot.com to read my story) Thanks

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can totally relate to this. I feel like I have had more failures at parenting than in any other area. I have since learned that most parents feel this way. When I tell these stories publicly, you can audibly hear a sigh of relief. People are encouraged when they know they are not alone.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        My parenting and marriage skills are the ones I seem to have to work on the most.  It’s frustrating that the areas I want to excell the greatest are the ones where I am weak. 

  • http://twitter.com/cheetosrapper Dan Greegor

    Great post. Question: Is there ever a time when a story should remain silent? Is there such a thing as being “too open”?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think there is. I think that whenever the telling of a story would do damage to a relationship or embarrass someone else, discretion should cause us to remain silent. There are numerous stories I would like to tell, but not while those involved are still living.

      Proverbs 10:12 comes to mind: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Tact is appropriate mostly all the time. 

    • Anonymous

      Is it possible to be inappropriate? Absolutely. Great question Dan

  • http://www.profkrg.com Kenna

     As a journalism professor, I find that telling my students stories about when I’ve not done the right thing helps humanize me and helps them learn. It makes it seem less like I’m just preaching at them and more like I’m speaking from experience. For example, I one time neglected to look up a source’s name in the archive when she was arrested, only to discover the next day that she was a major public person. The intern recognized her name, looked it up in the archive and stole “my” story. He ended up with a well-deserved front-page byline. I looked like a fool, but I learned a huge lesson.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Friend

      the foolish moments in life… always turn out to be giant steps… Thanks for sharing Kenna

      Geoff

  • http://twitter.com/RickYuzzi Rick Yuzzi

    As a marketer, I can relate.  So often a company will think of social media as just another way to hawk their products.  But, it’s more than that. It’s called “social” for a reason.  It’s about connecting in a real way with your customers and prospects. Yes, it’s beneficial for sales, but that’s because it builds brand awareness and loyalty.  Used properly, social media can make people feel more connected with your company. Used improperly it can annoy or alienate your prospects.  Social media can help provide damage control in the wake of bad publicity, or as some have discovered, it can make matters worse if ignored or used clumsily.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Anonymous

      I agree Rick… it is so important to have friends in the groundswell… a solid dependable, authentic presence. You can’t control the discussion… but you can influence it.

  • TerriPorta

    Hi Michael,

    I’m new to your blog and am finding it a blessing! I am just starting this journey and am stumbling, bumbling, messing it up and banging into people all the time. (figuratively of course..lol) Would love any additional leadership nuggets. Just trying to keep the bruising to a minimal and keep my sense of humor about it all. Thanks for a great post today!

    Terri

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Terri. Welcome!

  • Lynne

    I love hearing/reading other people’s stories. I love knowing how others have been challenged, how they work through those challenges, and things they’ve learned. The stories that create the most discomfort for the writer and the reader often speak the loudest. I love the courage and honesty I read in those stories, but often find it difficult to muster that courage to write my own stories.

    Brilliant–thank you for this post, Michael. It just might inject a bit of the courage I need.

    • Anonymous

       Be encouraged Lynne… your stories matter.

      Thanks for sharing
      Geoff

      • Lynne

        Thank you for the encouragement, Geoff. I dusted off my 2 blogs and have a few things in mind for them. :) 

  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    Thanks Geoff.

    It’s true that we must be truthful when telling our stories, both the good and the bad. But we must also be careful not to fall into self-boasting or self-pity. Balancing is a majot key.

    • Anonymous

      How do you personally find that balance Joe? 

      • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

        I believe we could bring a balance by acknowledging God’s gracious hand on our lives. That keeps us from self-boasting and self-pity.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Geoff–you remind me of two moments of failure, one mine and the other not. The not my failure–Scotty  McCreery, now a top two contender on “American Idol,” probably won a lot of people over way, way back when he stood up and said that he was wrong for not speaking up to defend a young singer that others in his group gave the boot. He confessed with tears he should have shown more character.

    Mine–I work with high school athletes, some who are struggling in class. For those guys who are, I’ve told them about my big zero on a major test in seminary. I failed and failed in a big way. I’m thankful for the mercy of a professor and his willingness to give me a second chance, one I didn’t fritter away.–Tom

    • Anonymous

      Really great examples of how failure endears us and gives hope to others! Thanks for sharing…

      One question I have is this though… Why do we always wait so long to share our failures; rather than sharing them in the moment?

      It seems easier to share them when it was “Yesterday” and not “Today?”

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

         We’re infected with the Adam virus–we like to hide. Grace, time, and wisdom seem to be the antidote.

  • http://janudlock.com/ Jan Udlock

    Today on my blog, I just re-posted “I Hate Christmas Letters” and was trying to decide if I was being thoughtful or considerate??etc. etc.

    But I wanted to share that to me the motivation behind Christmas letters seems arrogant. So thank you for today’s post. 

  • Kcmoog

    Sharing stories of failure help people to know that they are not alone.  All people have to face obstacles and adversities in life.  The harder the struggle, the sweeter the success.

    • Anonymous

      thank you

  • Pat12806

    A smart man learns from his mistakes , a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.
    Great to hear and see mistakes and also the faith to overcome ALL things with GOD!

  • http://www.blogwithcareracter.com Rashad Morris

    I agree with many of the posts below. I work in Youth Ministry and often share the good and the bad because it provides hope and freedom to those listening. It also “humanizes” me as people looking on can be encouraged that they can do it too. Sometimes it is very discouraging to hear only the good things as it gives the misrepresentation that we are perfect and have no issues OR that we never have “issues with our issues”. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, and that makes our audience members feel isolated and shamed. On the other hand, when we share our own failures, people feel they are not alone and take courage.

    • Anonymous

      So true Rashad… hearing only success stories makes most people feel inadequate

  • Johanna Anderson

    I am a lyricist, and I find that the lyrics I write that don’t shy away from the pathos of the human condition (yours, mine and ours) in a broken, sinful world are the lyrics that really resonate with people.  When I tap into my own struggles, I am pretty safe in assuming that these struggles are universal,  not unique to me.  People are so scared that they are alone in dealing with the bad, sad and scary aspects of life.  I love to write lyrics that help folks see that the trials they are suffering are not strange.   It’s all part of the human experience.  We’re all in this together, so we need to help each other along any way we can.   

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Johanna… Failure/success? It is so difficult to determine which is which don’t you think?

      I like to think of my self more as a lump of clay on some kind of journey… sometimes things are added, sometimes things are removed.

      There is a lot of grace and patience in the shaping… and sometimes it’s a painful melodic process

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    No one is perfect. Therefore, it is important to tell others about your mistakes. 

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Like yesterday…My brother left the lawn mower sticking 3in out from the garage. So when I went to back out, it scraped the whole entire side of my white car. I was furious! The car that had been given to me by my grandparents we supposed to stay in great condition. Now, it has a huge black streak down the side of it! I think it will come out though… 

  • Kmelissasmallwood

    Especially because our story brings God glory- I am a firm believer in being transparent about my life {past and present} so that others can be encouraged that we truly serve a Romans 8:28 God.

  • bethanyplanton

     To share the good and the bad of the organization or even personally is definitely not our naturally tendency, but I do love the points brought up in this post. Now I am pondering and thinking how I personally and how the organization I work for can share their whole story. 

    • Anonymous

       Perhaps the “actual story” is how you tell your story?

  • http://twitter.com/the315project The 3:15 Project

    Sharing our brokenness in an authentic, humble way is enormously powerful.  It opens the door for God to bless us and work through us.  I believe so strongly in this that I’ve followed a call to invite men and women in the marketplace to share the hope they have in Christ, on video and post it on their LinkedIn Profile where it can reach people in a unique and powerful context.
    The ministry is in its infancies and could use all the prayers, support, and influence possible.

    http://www.the315project.com

    Thanks for this great blog entry, it’s no coincidence this should entry was posted today and I was made aware of it by a friend! (thanks RadicalMentoring!)

    Todd Miechiels
    The3:15Project

  • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com Deanna

    Hey, I was just going to send in my submission for a guest post on the SAME topic. Great post and nice to know I’m on the right track!   ;)

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    It’s surprising how well this works. I blogged once about my failures and my disappointment with myself. I got more positive feedback from that post than any other I’ve done.

  • Tom

    Thanks Geoff. I too have found that sharing my story has given me purpose instead of shame, power instead of weekness. There is healing and freedom in sharing the whole story.

    • Anonymous

      Awesome Tom!

  • http://bluecollarradionetwork.com James Dibben

     Little did I know the power this advice had for me when I started my business podcast almost a year ago. In my first episode I shared the very ugly truth of my own personal business experiences over the last 7 years. In episode 5 I shared my financial crash and burn story and where I was in the clean up phase of the mess.

    In episode 17 I announced the closure of my subcontracting company, 100% sure that listeners would hit the doors forever.

    I’ll be recording episode 49 this Monday evening, and just finished polling my audience. The overwhelming response is that they want more personal story in my show. They want to hear the story of James and where he is and what he is doing to put the pieces back together. It’s a real life story and your audience wants to connect with you in a real way.
    Do it, you’ll be glad you did!

    • Anonymous

      that’s incredible James

      • http://bluecollarradionetwork.com James Dibben

        Thanks Geoff!

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/blog Chris Neiger

    Great post, I definitely agree. There needs to be honesty in a community and blogs can be great areas of community. I recently wrote a post on my blog entitled “Why I Like Messing Up” to show that I wanted to have an honest conversation with my readers and so that I (and hopefully them) can learn from my mistakes. There are too many leaders out there who are afraid to not keep up the perfection persona, thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Good point Chris… I just realized that on a subconscious level that is probably why fail.blog is so popular.

      On the other hand sometimes other peoples failures make us feel better about ourselves (at least where not them) and I am not sure I like that idea?

      What do you think?

      • http://www.christopherneiger.com/blog Chris Neiger

        I definitely don’t like the comparison approach of “at least I’m not them.” I think we need to have a response that’s more, “Thank God I have someone to relate to.” 

        I admit that it’s easier to fall into the previous category, especially when the person sharing the downfall is removed from our daily lives. The further removed from them (i.e. the less we know about the situation or the person) the easier it is for us to judge. 

        I think that sharing with each other though, in a way that is beneficial to both the person sharing the information and to the person listening, can build people up in their confidence. Confidence for the person sharing because they no loner have something to hide, and confidence for the person listening because they now understand that they are just like everyone else in their faults.

        • Anonymous

          Very cool my friend… that makes a lot of sense

  • John Hawken

     Telling the true story of your life gives unimaginable encouragement, comfort, support, learning, and strength to someone who is going through challenging experiences themselves. As a couple who have been through a “transition” experience these last 3 years, we have gained enormous support & encouragement from hearing the stories of people who have, or are going through stuff themselves.

    Please dont underestimate the transformational power contained in your “hard times” that can bless others immensely! 

    TELL your stories, be REAL, and you just might save someone else’s life, as well as yours. This is a time when we need to be open and honest about life, sharing the hard times as well as the good, supporting one another through life with love rather than judgement when their lives dont fit our model of how things should look.

     

    • Anonymous

      awesome John… your comment was inspiring to me

      • John Hawken

        thanks for the feedback Geoff – I’m grateful that our “transition” has given God the room to stretch our understanding of how He moves differently with different people, and the grace to be able to learn something of value from everyone’s story – no matter how far out of the box their life might seem in the “tradaitional” framework of life with God

  • http://twitter.com/kimthebruce Kim Bruce

    I love this!   This is my passion….to help others break their own chains of shame and fear by sharing my own hurts and failures!  LOVE that you posted this!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Kim.. that means a lot

  • http://TransmitHope.com Cynthia Leighton

     Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve certainly had more than my share of failures, including devastating ones — and drawn far closer to God, in clinging to God to survive.

    blessings,
    Cynthia

  • http://www.carolhenders.blogspot.com Henders Carol

    You’re so right, Geoff! A year ago I began to tell my story…a story I had kept secret from everyone, including my family for 22 years. I lived with guilt, shame and feelings of inferiority for far too long. When you humbly share your failures, fears and short comings God moves you into a place of complete forgiveness and freedom. I’ve been freed from bondage to secrets, freed from guilt and healed from feelings of no self-worth. Life is incredible when we have the courage to share our brokenness! Now I strive to reach out honestly to other people in person and through my blog. Thanks for sharing! 

    • Anonymous

      good for you Carol… amazingly personal story that you… it is like a treasure

  • Pingback: Not much to look at… « Dave's Journal

  • http://twitter.com/BarbaraThayer1 Barbara Thayer

     Telling the truth about our failures, our hurts and our fears not only humanizes us to others but it opens the door to being able to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted by God.  Too often, in Christian circles, we tend to put on a good face and cover up any problems.  This paints a false picture of total serenity and control while underneath we are in pain like others.  The Body of Christ needs to open up and especially when it comes to writing and speaking.  Jesus came for the sick…not the healthy.  Therefore, it helps if we do the same by starting with ourselves.  Sharing our difficulties makes it easier for others to do the same.  This is when real healing can come.  Thanks for sharing this Michael.

  • Jmhardy97

    Be open. Be authentic. Let people know you failed and then got back up again, only this time better than before.

    • Anonymous

      More of a journey don’t you think?

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Great advice in the increasingly transparent and learning-driven digital world. 
    The boomer generation still talk about failure, e.g., ’80% of organizational change fails’. Says who? They look at failure as a problem becasue they first set out with assumptions that failure is not an option. Be careful about what you measure. It’s better to test and learn, notice what what worked, what didn’t, and go do something different right away, plus share your learning.   

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    That’s right - failures and succeses are part of everyone’s lives. If we are not failing we probably are not doing anything. Social media gives us the opportunity to be US. All of us have the RESISTANCE that is always pulling us back and the same time we have the WILLINGNESS to push forward. Sharing our stories is the best way to influence others. 

    • Anonymous

      stories really stay with us… great call

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      And the best way to encourage them, too.

  • Anonymous

     All of us are attracted to an appropriate authenticity and vulnerability. No matter how much I know this to be true, it is still a challenge to live in vulnerable authenticity. I am realizing that I have been hiding for too long and that the price has included lost years of productivity and influence. As I try to step out from the hiding, I see things differently and am learning to share them with others. Your observation lines up with my own – people want to connect with me when they get ALL of me – the good and the not so good. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing to Jim… I think our natural broken tendency is to hide? Personally I think being open and honest will always have its fears… What do you think? Geoff

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I’ve been recent;y discovering this very thing.  I’ve started a seroes of posts I call the Foundations of Youth Ministry.  This includes several things that I wasn’t taught in college, and have had to learn the hard way.  Some of these posts will include my attempts that failed to do what I wanted to accomplish.

    So, I agree.  Transparency can be very revealing ;) and it can be very rewarding. 

  • http://www.gamer4eva.com David Mccue

     great gaming website check it out at http://www.gamer4eva.com/

  • Elizabeth Bohan

     When we are honest and vulnerable enough to tell our stories, including the failures, we let others know that we are willing to lay it all out, to connect with them.  Then we connect with them this way, it gives us an opportunity to share not only the failure and the pain of it, but it gives us the chance to talk about the Living Hope.  There are so many hopes in this world, health, financial stability, family togetherness, a fulfilling career or position, but there is only one hope that is true, and never fails.  Even admidst our failures, our weakest moments, dumbest mistakes and downright sinful choices, only one hope can lift us up and lead us out.  this is what will resonate with others…this is who will resonate with others to lift them up and lead them out, Jesus, the Living Hope and Only way to address failure.

    • Anonymous

      Great comments Elizabeth… Just to stir the pot a little… Do you think only Christians… should be transparent?

  • http://ashleyscwalls.wordpress.com Ashleyscwalls

    This is extrememly true. Thanks for sharing 

  • http://change.me Oleg Sinitsin

    Michael, this is a good, thought-provoking post. I am completely onboard with being authentic in portraying a true picture of yourself. This is different, however, from using discretion in how much too share with others. Simply put, some things are just meant to be private.

    You are spot on in saying “You don’t have to over-do it. ” I recently heard Andy Stanley use the word “vomit” with respect to people unloading their dirty laundry stories on other people without consideration of whether its beneficial or appropriate for their listeners. I tend to agree with that.

    Some things are between me and my family. Some things are for sharing with trusted friends. Some things are public for the rest of the world to know. Some things, perhaps, are between me and God.
     

    • Anonymous

      Hi Oleg,

      My name is Geoff Talbot… I am actually the writer of this post. I guest blogged on Michael’s site for him…

      I agree with you… great comment. Mostly for me it is about having a posture of openness… About not trying to hide, or needing to hide… which is totally different from discretion.

      What do you think?

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        Geoff, I agree. Great post, by the way. I think, for most people, they’re
        more reserved than they could/should be. You can be open with people in
        your blogging, and in your conversations, without being a person who
        “vomits” their entire life to someone or in a post.

        • http://change.me Oleg Sinitsin

           I totally agree with all the above. Although to me, openness as a trait is a little nebulous. Instead, I can relate more clearly to:
          (A) Authenticity – “…Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” – John 1:47; and
          (B) Integrity – “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’…” – Matt 5:37

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            Good thoughts.

          • Anonymous

            Firstly you just quoted my favorite scripture Oleg… Nathanael… How I long for that to be said of me!

            Remaining in the posture of authenticity is only possible when we are “loved” I don’t think it would make sense otherwise???

  • http://www.carlestercrumpler.com/ Carlester T. Crumpler

     My story of failure lets others know that they are not alone and provides inspiration that they can rebound from their failure too. Just the simple fact that you are willing to be open and transparent about your shortcomings is inspiration enough. In fact, I even make light of the fact that I write about ‘failure’ in my blog bio at http://www.carlestercrumpler.com.

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

       Thanks Carlester… that is so good… There is so much grace I am not sure why we are so concerned about failure all the time?

      Why?

      One of my good friends a very well known theologian once said to me…”What have you got to be proud about… you’re dead already?

      Shook me to my bones that did.

  • Anonymous

    Love it. As a Christian, I believe John puts it well in Revelation. We overcome by the 1) blood of the lamb and 2) the power of our testimony/story. Sadly, most only live the reality of the first while disregarding how powerful their stories are. Glad you reminded everyone.  

  • Anonymous

     I think Michael himself provides a great example of writing about your mistakes on this blog. It’s important to be transparent with your readers, just as you would next to the person in the coffee shop. I haven’t always believed this, until God finally said, “It’s time to be real.” I do this frequently on my blog. I just let my “junk” out and it’s amazing the replies I get. People definitely want real. It feels great to be real. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I agree with you. People want to follow people who are real.

  • Anonymous

    I believe there are times in our lives when sharing is too painful because we haven’t healed. But when healing takes place, and we begin to step out and share, we experience excitement and  dance a victory dance. A layer of the onion gets peeled back with each step forward. Healing is never for us alone; it is meant to be shared to bring healing to someone else.

    Thank you for this great post Michael!

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      But isn’t sharing an integral part of the healing process…? 

      • Anonymous

        Hi Geoff,

        I agree that it is, but what I have often seen is that people live in deep shame or fear and won’t step out because of those dynamics. The stigma of “what will others think” or “I don’t want anyone knowing my personal stuff” looms over them. I totally understand that sharing brings freedom; I’ve personally experienced that  myself in recent months. It is like a firework exploding into color. It’s amazing what takes place in the process, and what doors open to help others who may have gone through or are dealing with the same issue.

        • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

          Really good points friend… thanks for your honesty in this. There is definitely strength in the unity of friendship and community where burdens (as well a joys) can be shared…

          We need to be a safe place for others… and one way of doing this is by taking the risk ourselves. Little by little… one step at a time as the relationships build.

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  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    i love this post. in my 42 years of life, i’ve found that more people are encouraged when they see that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t the only one who has struggled, that they aren’t the only one who feels like they do. i’ve always shared my failures and my struggles freely with others and somehow-through the grace of God-they are helped by my stories. i believe our struggles make us stronger…but sharing them with others helps them to become stronger too. 

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      Thanks Colleen… I wrote this post… I belong to a community of faith in Hollywood and our catch phrase is that “We get together because we can’t make it alone.” Good huh?

      Why do we have this urge to try and make it alone? Where does that come from?

      • Anonymous

        The urge to “go it alone”  Geoff may come as a result of always hearing “we need to be strong” and that in itself equates for many to “I have to be strong alone.” It’s exhausting to go it alone. As Aaron held up the arms of Moses in the bible when he was weary, we too need the support, friendship and strength of others in our lives to help share our  journey. It’s not a co-dependent relationship, but one lifts and encourages the other to greater heights.

        • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

          So true Cindy… this individualistic life thing is perpetuated by so many things we do… sadly it has infiltrated the church in the West too… it is more prevalent than we might expect…

          We were never meant to be able to survive or thrive on our own…

  • Jennifer

    Thanks, I needed that!      I read this the morning after I published an essay on Salon.com called “I was a teen-aged prom reject.”   It’s about not being invited to the prom, 30 years ago.  Since I got pummeled by the trolls, I’ve been wondering if I shared too much.  Your post gave me some much needed courage.

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      Thanks Jennifer, It is easy to share our story and our journey… when we get rid of judgment and shame. I think the SHARING is a vital part of  the process… G

  • http://www.waytenmom.blogspot.com Paula Kiger

    First of all, I love thoe quote by Geoff’s acting teacher!! Quite true. Secondly, I agree with the premise of this guest post. I have been constantly amazed at how one tiny thread in a tweet of FB comment leads me to interact more deeply with the individual and gain a valued connection (even if the chances of my ever meeting that individual are remote). I am in the midst personally of discovering that when you are honest and candid about issues in the workplace, that it can undermine your credibility. Rightly or wrongly. I wouldn’t take back anything I have written or vlogged about, and none of it is anything I would not have said in person, but the ripple effects have been surprising, disappointing, and personally challenging. Here’s one of the work related posts: http://waytenmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/1000-marbles-year-late.html

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Paula, I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks.

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  • James Loveland

    Our testimony has to be honest first of all. No purpose is served by the desire to embellish or add to my story. It’s the common mistakes, and behaviors that others will relate too. I lived many years in sin, which included a life long battle with addiction. The reader can most likely surmise the kind of person I probably was, before I met Jesus Christ. If I make myself sound like a conquering hero, what use is that. I share my victories, and I also share my failures. I am a ordinary man, who was redeemed by our Savior. Jesus is Lord

  • http://everydaysnapshots.com Dave Anthold

    I agree that no one wants to show the failure side of our lives.  At work, we are encouraged to never let them see you suffer (in fact that probably goes for most anywhere); however, this approach means getting vulnerable and when you are hurt or fail that is difficult.  Conveying my stories of failure would allow someone to see that I am human, that I don’t have it all together.  I appreciate when someone tells me their mistakes or their moments of failure because it helps me grow.  Stories are meant to evoke emotion and we can learn from others, because they might show us where we need to work on ourselves.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Thanks for the encouragement, Dave.

  • Rachael

    my dad whom was born in 1947 his father whom I know by the name of Toby Miller.  He was with at that time my dad’s mum Nola Louis Graham’s grandmother is Rachael Rose Hayley (also related to broadheads, and Peels, Prime minister of England and first to start first police fleet in Australia) whom had a twin at birth but apparently died at birth (Spencer was his name).  Graham James Louis was born 6 August 1947 in Surry Hills NSW. when he was 12 he was involved in a major car accident. he was paid a substanstial amount for this, he brought his grandmother a home in Alexandria. Dad left to go over seas for business, his grandmother was in the care of her daughter Olive. I know my great mother gave my mum jewellry as a gift to welcome mum into the family, my mum was only 19 years when she met Rachael Rose Hayley My great grand mother.  Olive got jealous and told mum she had no right to the jewellry and mum not knowing any better or wanting any trouble handed over the jewellry without knowledge to dad or Ms Rachael Rose. Dad was 6 months old when Toby Miller left to fight the war – From memory the Kokoda Trail WWII.  When my dad Graham was 16 years old, he got the pleasure of meeting his dad.  Years had gone by and later Graham had learnt that Toby was in a Home facility in Sydney. that is the last I know of Toby Miller.  My dad’s Uncle also served in the war and earnt himself a VC.  Unfortunately My parents were over seas when they were informed of Rachael Rose’s death at the time of her death she was in sydney My mum and dad were in manila I was very young at the time – I had the pleasure to meet her though without many memories of her.  All but a telegram when it was too late by the time my parents were notified.  I am privelidge to share her name today.  My father’s great great great grandfather was Sir Robert Peel(prime minister of England then) and first man to fleet first police force in Australia.  I am proud to have these beautiful and memorable people to remember.  I am still seeking the family history some more.  Thank You for Reading.

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  • http://www.MyFamilyvsMarineCorp.com John F. Gonzalez

    My name is John F. Gonzalez and I have a very incredible and heart moving story dealing with struggles and victories  while in the Marine Corp and ultimately taking on the Marine Corp legally for the love of my family.I have a Website  http://www.MyFamilyvsMarineCorp.com  there I have a video and my story.I am presently looking for an Executive Movie Producer that may pick up my story and produce it! There is a very generous finders fee for whom ever may help me find the Producer that will produce my story.Contact me,thank you. John F. Gonzalez. 

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  • Ruth

    The truth promotes reality.Reality can suck but I heard a quote a few years that has stuck with me.”Tell the truth and you won’t have to remember anything.”It would be nice to go through life not acting like an improv actor scared who will catch me off guard and cause humiliation,shock,and a load of shame I already carry anyway.Thank-you for this article.

  • Espressooonatural

    I LIKE TO TELL MY STORY TO SHARE REFUNDS FOR RECYCLE GIVE KIDS POCKET MONEY

  • Scott Foster

    Why do we not tell the trust story?

  • Scott Foster

    I meant to say, Why do you not tell the true story? I know why I don’t.

  • GregSimcock

    Story-telling is an old profession. Although many people can tell a story, there are those who can project great imagery that goes far deeper in a persons mind than just the story told. When the listener leaves with the story in one’s mind the information received is often soon forgotten, but some part of the story remains in one’s mind. The accumulation of segments of  information enables people to gain a wealth of knowledge. Knowledge, based on what people learn, is what makes up a persons intelligence. Intelligence is really just the accumulation of information. If the information absorbed into one’s mind is false then the knowledge a person knows is incorrectly thought of from the moment it is first acquired. However, when the information fed into one’s mind is not factual the person who gains intelligence based on erroneous information is ill informed and so any subsequent passing- on of that incorrect information only further deceives other people into believing what is not true or correct. 

    One example of that is of the origins of the Harry Potter story and its real creator. People have been led to believe that the stories of Harry Potter were created by a woman named Joanne K. Rowling, when, in fact, the story of Harry Potter was the original creation of Gregory Ronald Simcock. That happens to be my real name. My writers name is J. K. Rawling, for; Joe King Rawling.  You will notice it is similar to the name of J. K. Rowling. Of course I didn’t publish the stories of Harry Potter, but if I had done so you would not have thought anything of my real name, as my writers name would have been seen on the books I would have published of my stories about an orphan boy’s adventures, as he, and all his friends, gained an education in a wonderful world of mystery, danger, and excitement. I had hoped that the readers and viewers of my stories would have gained a lot of information from my stories. My intended books were to be very graphic, with wonderful pictures, and the films with wonderful visuals to see and enjoy, but my art and written work, forming my  inventions and stories, got stolen and history does not recognize me for the things I created. False-hooded authors have taken my stories and published them as their own, but I am the original creator of the stories I created. Stories published that I recognize are write-ups of my stories are just subsequent works created without my authority.  Because I didn’t get to publish my stories, the whole world of people do not know me for the things I created. What I have found is that the people, otherwise known as; “The Public”, don’t realize it is things I created for them that got stolen by one or more people, then they were marketed by other authors!  It is not possible to be on a delayed train, but Jo Rowling has said she was on one when the idea of Harry Potter fell into her head, fully formed, and she went home and wrote  the story; “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone”. When I was a boy, I was actively into the field of electronics. I was designing weird things then and continued to do so during my adult years. I was very interested in light and energy and later created a high brightness diode. My drawings of my high power lighting systems were used to form the clash that was seen to be fought by Harry Potter and Voldemort. My nine years as a cinema projectionist allowed me to learn about high-brightness lighting systems and I had simply drawn them with my ideas and concepts on paper until my ideas were finished concept designs. My years of creativity has been canvassed, as You have been led to believe Rowling created the Harry Potter story, when I actually created the story of Harry Potter, and I did so for you and your children. My loss is so great that I cannot reveal what it all is. You therefore don’t know me for what I created. I could tell the sad story of how my pet chooks died, and without my many families of character drawings I was left alone and in tears, in my home, feeling cold and in a state of despair, without the things I had focused my energy on for many years while I was creating things that was intended to delight many people, but my sad story is not what you want to read. You go on believing Jo Rowling created the Harry Potter stories and live the lie you know. I cannot take back the clock, but I can reset the time to what is right. The Harry Potter stories are over now, so it is time to reveal the truth to the real origin of the stories. I began to create the story in 1978 and I continued to form the stories structure, based on my knowledge and Army training methods I learned while as a soldier in the Australian Army, and for about seven years after I had left the Army. The result was well created as the Harry Potter stories.  I never marketed my stories. My stories work really did get stolen and imagination is needed to perceive what happened to my artwork after that time.  Subsequent to the theft of my stories drafts Jo Rowling has become known for the creation of stories which I first created! You have been told the truth here, but do not expect to hear that same information by Jo Rowling! If the word “Plagiarism” is not on your word list then do look it up and learn what it means, because for the result of plagiarism is very soul destroying to a creator. If you wish to find out how the Harry Potter story really began then artifacts.yolasite.com has the answer you desire. I am Gregory Ronald Simcock, as author J. K. Rawling.
    30-May-2012

    Did you know the name Hermione was derived from the name “Hermann”, which was written on the side panels of the creators van? That is right. After I had drawn the girl character I needed to rename her with a suitable name I liked. I had always liked being called Hermann when I was in or occasionally when I got out of my van. As I closed the sliding door I saw HER-MANN’-S. I owned the girl character, the van, and I thought; Her-Me-I-Own Her-Me-Van, hence I coined the name Hermione from my assets! There is a picture of my old van with the name HERMANN’S REFRIGERATION on its side panels on the mentioned site. 

    As much as I don’t like to say the word “Plagiarist” I find no other word fits the true meaning of that word, so I have to say I believe Jo Rowling is a plagiarist.  

  • Marvin Dale Eldridge

    America, why you too should hate it,  Your goverment hides the truth!  They know how to stop cancer, and have kept it from you for over 45 years.  They know how to cure cancer (any, including Aids), and have know how for over 35 years.  Both, stopping, and curing Cancer, the cost less then a dime a day! 
    Want more Examples  ASK ME!

  • Her admiring daughter

    I would like someone  very dear to me to admit her mistakes.  Even though I have forgiven she continues to surprise even me.

  • Vanessa McCauley

    My story..the good..the bad and the ugly. This is a captivating and astounding “true story” of one young flight attendant’s (me) courageous fight to protect her U.S. Constitutional right of religious freedom in the work place. She and her religious liberties were put on trial in Dallas Federal court and displayed on the world’s center stage throughout the media. In the end, Southwest Airlines and their “puppets” had temporarily succeeded to sweep them both under the carpet.

    Dr. Tony Wilbeck writes: They used over-powering collusion, corruption, greed, perjury, intimidation, threats, coercion, obstruction of justice and betrayal as their tactics. They were weaved together by the threads of a sinister and twisted plot, which was perpetrated by Southwest Airline’s C.E.O., a Federal Judge, a Senator, and others. The intended purpose of the conspiracy was to propagate unconstitutional corporate policies and silence the righteous employees by suppression and unlawful eradication of their constitutional freedoms. Many lives of the just were shattered and some were even lost, as the evil ones had prospered. I have personally heard the damning and corroborating testimony from the lips of Ms. Mary McDonald, who is one of this story’s WHISTLE BLOWING JURY MEMBERS featured in this real-life thriller.Passengers’ “fasten your seat belts and secure your oxygen masks!” You are in for one turbulent flight of David vs. Goliath that you will never forget! Our Creator is He who wears THE ROBE OF SUPREME JUSTICE!”. I am inspired from reading this blog today. I have a story to be told. My manuscript is complete.

    “I support the leading of Vanessa Alexandra McCauley that is from the Lord for her to write this book. The American court system has failed justice in this case. The truth must be told, evil must be exposed and ALL of those responsible for this travesty will be held accountable for their respective roles in “throwing” the case as well as their part in conspiring in the subsequent cover-up.”
    The Rev. Gloria Gillaspie
    Burleson, Texas

    I am encouraged with the words from Dr. Wilbeck who has read my manuscript. The Rev. Gloria Gillaspie is correct when she states ” all those responsible for this travesty need to be held accountable. A hit was put on my life to silence me. I have moved over 26 times. I am inspired from reading this blog today. I have a story to be told. My manuscript is complete.