In personal branding, we know that behind every strong personal brand is an equally powerful narrative. Our guest blogger this month, Stacia Keogh, founder of StoryPrez, is a master storyteller. Stacia teaches clients how to use the power of their voice with the tools of metaphor to create a vivid picture in the minds and hearts of their audience. Here she talks about how to use something called “Threshold Moments” in life to create a rich and powerful brand story. And as we just wrapped up our Brand Transformation Campaign earlier this month, where we interviewed 15 inspirational women about their personal brand stories of transformation, we couldn’t have asked for a more fitting guest blogger!
THRESHOLD MOMENTS are those turning points in your life when you faced a difficult decision, life event or a surprising pivot which changed your life forever.
Your standing at the cross roads – literally – trying to decide which way to go. To the left the path of needles to the right the path of pins… that was Little Red Riding Hood’s choice. Or those the watershed moments when you agonize over your options as in the 1990 Indigo Girls song of the same name:
Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
‘Til your agony’s your heaviest load
When I was 18 I packed up my little 1979 Gremlin car headed out to Colorado with my them boyfriend who’s brother lived in Evergreen. And so I was off to seek my fortune! And climb mountains and get the hell out of boring Ohio, flat and dull. Big sky but no air. I was going where the air was rarefied and mountains snow-capped. After 3 days and nights of monotonous driving it started to get interesting and then really cool and amazing, and then we topped this ridge and framed in an overpass, like a picture, was the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I’d really done it! I was really here and on my journey and I got there in my own little car. I’ve moved to several places and crossed oceans and time zones and always my mantra ‘Bloom Where Your Are Planted’ has been my truth, sometimes out of necessity rather than fertile soil.
I’m at another threshold now. After over 10 years as a lone parent, my two are teenagers are striking out on their own and I’m so ready to move on but yet… all the years of catering for children and running around trying to make ends meet and now coaxing a business into life has left me wondering what now what next. Although uncomfortable I’m reminded of other choices I’ve made and how I’ve pulled though other tough situations, and I know that this is where the story gets interesting. I’m about to reclaim my life again. What to preserve, what to compost, what is growing green again. The landscape is different but the move feels somehow familiar; it’s time to cut loose and dive in.
It’s always with dogged determination, and the best results that have come from going with my gut and feeling my way through, making it up as I go along and definitely always going for it! In the story of the Firebird the young man in the story picks up the Firebird’s feather even though he’s been warned not to and of course it leads him to the king and what was good luck turn to bad. When faced with the impossible situation the young man cries into the neck of his trusty horse and the horse says “…why cry now, the trouble lies before you…” finally after many many trials and tribulations the young man is condemned to die. The horse says “…cry now as this is truly the end. But you still have options. You can be dragged kicking and screaming towards the inevitable or you can walk with pride and when you see your death run straight for it and jump in.”
Think of the turning points in your own life; a major event or a separation moving from one place or state to another. Pivots! Where Life turns on a completely around. Shedding and Shifting moments. What did you do? Drag your feet? Consult with trusted friend? Choose the easy quick way or the interesting longer ‘scenic’ route? These are the Threshold moments where how we handle them reveals who we are and we learn where our gumption lies. We will always come through wiser.
The word Threshold is an agricultural word where on the threshing floor where the harvest was separated grain from husk, there was a ‘hold’ or a raised piece of wood which contained the grain. These thresholds can be found at doorways today to stop draughts. So a threshold is used to separate what is useful from what is not. Of course, there are thresholds in life like birth, puberty, marriage, death…even to this day new brides are carried over the threshold to mark the change from single to married state. Or ‘she stood on the threshold of a new discovery’. So threshold is used to delineate one placed or state to another.
Think of the turning points in your own life. What were the emotions you experienced? Build a visceral picture of what your world was like before the change. Then the inciting incident that tip everything over the edge, the surprise that woke you up or disrupted everything. Maybe there was a gradual transition or a lucky break. Sometimes what seemed like good luck turns out to be not all it was cracked up to be.
When you have things like “time or place” changes or a BIG event, how can you bring these to life as examples of your leadership ability? Your grit and resourcefulness? Or even how when all was lost you were able to survive or turn it around; rising from the ashes to get where you are today.
Emotions work at a slower pace than thoughts so telling these tales with impact takes a bit of skill and practice. What kind of Thresholds are Beginnings or Endings? They may require you to pick up speed or slow down and let things sink in.
What do you think would be the effect on the listener of skipping over internal thresholds or using these places as opportunities for emphasis or rising tone to indicate excitement or urgency or fear.
3 Basic Threshold Stories You Can Tell
- Turning Points: These are the life events the births, deaths, marriages, moving into new phases in your life
- U-Turns & Pivots: When you turn around and either double back to reclaim or go in a totally new direction surprising even yourself!
- Shedding & Shifting & Separations: Who are you? Who were you? Who do you want to become?
These stories will contain the raw material for three basic stories:
ORIGIN STORY: How the idea for your business came to be. Did it evolve over time or hit you like a bolt from the blue? Maybe it came about to solve a problem you had.
PURPOSE STORY: Why you do it! It’s more than just to pay the mortgage or for my family or ‘to help people’. What is the passion that drives you.
CHARACTER STORY: Who are you? A personal story reflects your grit, creativity, sense of adventure & humour.
Storytelling is your power.
A good personal story is inspirational, builds relationships, creates dialogue and invites vision and establishes your unique-ness!
To find out more about Stacia and her fabulous work with storytelling, check out www.storyprez.co.uk!