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.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.