By Nathan Young - Storytelling Consultant
2018 was my first full year working for myself teaching storytelling. I have no regrets but it was definitely a much wilder ride than I expected.
The picture from the Instagram post below is from a couple weeks ago when I was invited to be part of a panel discussion about how scientists can better communicate the value of their work through storytelling. This was at a conference for the American Society of Molecular Biologists. These opportunities are special to me because science has always been one of my first loves, even if I realized pretty early on that being an actual scientist as a career wasn’t for me.
The panel was a lot of fun! Everything I said seemed to resonate, I made some new connections, people approached me to talk more afterwards, and I felt a renewed sense of pride and excitement about helping people understand and communicate better with storytelling.
The craziest part about that morning though was that I had gone to that conference IMMEDIATELY after attending an orientation to be a DoorDash driver. I had been dealing with so much anxiety about the feast-or-famine aspect of my first year as an entrepreneur that I was looking for something—ANYTHING!—to create some financial consistency in my life.
It was quite the juxtaposition. At 10am I was being herded into a little conference room by a surly manager, watching a training video, and realizing I was the only one who had actually followed all of the pre-orientation instructions (download an app and bring your drivers license). Then at 11am I was on stage in the main conference hall of the San Diego Convention Center, seeing a bunch of super intelligent scientists leaning forward, taking notes, nodding along, and some even having a big wide-eyed look of revelation on their faces in response to what I was saying.
I spent the next hour walking amongst the booths in the conference, with a bright red “Presenter” lanyard hanging from my neck, and repeating to myself, “Nathan. You gotta trust yourself. You gotta believe in yourself. You gotta have faith in yourself. You’ve got something valuable to share that people need to hear.” It was a weird little kick in the ass that showed up exactly when I needed it too.
I know from conversations with other people that it’s so easy for all of us to discount the things we know and the value we bring to the world. We assume that everybody knows it already, or even knows something MORE valuable than what we know. But that’s all just a story we tell ourselves that isn’t necessarily true. What is true is coming to understand your own unique story and how sharing that can bring so much value to the world. This is why I do the work I’m doing, but it’s also something I still need to remind myself every day.
Going forward, the biggest external challenge I face with my business is just figuring out how to best package all this knowledge in a way that’s scalable for me and helpful for my clients. I’ve made a lot of progress on this over the last year, but I’m also realizing that this is going to be an ongoing process. Running a business means continually trying new things, keeping what works, ditching what doesn’t, and repeat! Right?
This leads into the biggest internal challenge I deal with, which is simply having faith in myself, believing in what I know, and maintaining resilience through all the ups and downs. This is the hardest part and it manifests in so many ways. I constantly second guess myself, then second guess each branch of the second guess, then second guess again each branch of the first branch of second guesses. It can drive you mildly nuts!
Through it all, I know the answer is to believe and have faith in myself. As cliche as it sounds, it really is the answer. I know I’ll be successful at this. I don’t necessarily know WHEN, but I know it will happen.
Every day is new revelations and I have to have faith that each day will bring more thoughts, ideas, and revelations that will bring me closer to my goal. And if somewhere in the middle of it I realize I need to shift gears and do something different, I’ll know when that time has come and I’ll do what I have to do then. In the meantime, I do what needs to be done now.
It’s just as simple as that.
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