The Stories We Tell Ourselves: 3 Powerful Words to Improve Your Inner Narrative

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

As entrepreneurs, the most important stories we tell are the ones we tell ourselves.

That’s because good stories give us hope, inspiring us to “slay the dragon” and grab hold of the “holy grail”—whatever those things might mean in our businesses.

Bad stories are told by our inner critic to stoke our insecurities with tragic tales of failure. Instead of inspiring us to do more, be more, and achieve more, they impair us. They tell us what we can’t do—and how and why we’ll fail if we try.

Bad stories become the excuses we tell ourselves so we’ll be okay with the status quo.

But, as entrepreneurs, we are freedom fighters. We push against the status quo and entrenched interests to create a new world of opportunity for our families, our teams, and our communities.

We see possibilities when others see problems. And we’re willing to scratch, claw, and fight till we bend the world to our will to make our vision become a reality.   

So, how can we change our inner narrative to ensure it aligns with getting the results we want?

When you start hearing stories in your head about why you can’t...use these three words: That’s precisely why [...I can].

Inner critic: You’re too young.

You: That’s precisely why...I’m a great fit to serve this customer because I bring a fresh perspective, with a lot of energy and new ideas to help solve their problem.

Inner critic: You’re too old.

You: That’s precisely why...I can bring great value to this client. I have decades of experience that give me insight into recognizing patterns that can help them identify solutions to their biggest challenges.

Inner critic: You don’t have any industry experience.

You: That’s precisely why...they should hire me because I don’t have the blind spots that typically come with being overly familiar with an industry. I can bring a fresh set of eyes to identifying and solving their problems. Moreover, I can share the best practices I’ve learned from working in other industries that could give this client a competitive advantage in their business.

Inner critic: Your company is too small.

You: That’s precisely why...we’re the best fit because our clients receive the full attention from senior-level talent. Our clients aren’t merely a customer number; they are partners who we know personally and love to serve.

Inner critic: Your product offerings are too limited.

You: That’s precisely why...we’re the best fit because we’re focused on being the best in the world in the few things that will bring the most value to our clients.

Inner critic: Your company is too new.

You: That’s precisely why...customers should give us a try. We won’t take their business for granted. We’re doing something special here, pushing against the status quo to make our clients’ jobs easier and less stressful.

Inner critic: You’ve never done this before.

You: That’s precisely why...we should give it a try. If it works, we’ll open up a whole new world of opportunity. If it fails, great! We will have learned something that will make us smarter for the next experiment or opportunity.

Inner critic: You don’t have enough cash.

You: That’s precisely why...we can succeed. Limited resources will force us to be more disciplined in our approach and generate new ideas we never thought possible that could hold the key to our success.

Inner critic: You don’t have enough time.

You: That’s precisely why...we can succeed because we will be forced to refine our processes to become more efficient and effective.

Inner critic: You failed the last time you tried this.

You: That’s precisely why...we’re moving forward again. We didn’t merely fail; we gained feedback on what works and what doesn’t. And we’ve refined our approach to avoid those mistakes this time around. And if we fail again this time around, so be it! We will become much smarter and more effective the next time.

Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, an Orlando, Fla.-based consulting company that helps entrepreneurs increase sales through storytelling.

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