The Power of Your Origin Story

You might have read this headline and thought about Batman, Superman or Spiderman. In fact, every single superhero that we know of is introduced to us via their origin story and for good reason. Before we see them save the world / save the girl / save the universe we need to know why they are doing it and what feelings and emotions they are going through as they do it.

We need to know that Captain America was a weedy kid before we can route for him. We validate Robin Hood as a hero and not a thief in part because he was stripped of his title. We can contextualise the A-Team because we’re told they were framed for a crime they didn’t commit.

Going further, we are often denied (or delayed) in our discovery for the origin story for the Villain for the same reason … scriptwriters don’t want us to emphasise with the villain until we are firmly rooting for the hero. Almost every film plot depends on us picking a side early on … from Blackhawk Down to Love Actually.

But here’s the secret … the golden key if you will: Your Origin Story is just as important and you need to learn to tell it well to ensure other people are on board with your goals and mission … whether you’re in a company, running your own show or self-employed, being able to convey your origin story is a key skill that will multiply your success.

Take a leaf from Hollywood and lean into who you are, specifically the moments in which your destiny was shaped. Be prepared to be vulnerable and share with honesty and a lack of expectation to the extent were hearing the story fills you with emotion, no matter how many times you have gone through it. Allow yourself to add details and flourish and express the emotion that you felt at the time.

Far too often people forget that how they communicate is as important as what they communicate and it’s too their detriment. Recent research has shown that people that engage their social brain are up to twice as effective in their roles as those that don’t (if you haven’t read Think Social by Mathew Lieberman, I highly recommend it).

If you don’t think your origin story is interesting, chances are it’s the way you’re telling it and you’re not leaning into it yourself. Imagine if scriptwriters just wrote what happened instead of telling a story … most films would be wrapped up in 20 minutes or less, but we simply wouldn’t remember them. The facts are the same either way, but the art of the story allows people in … just listen to friends outside a cinema as they debate what happened, almost entirely forgetting for a moment that they are in a fantasy world created by actors, scriptwriters and directors!

One last thought … once you have developed the superpower of storytelling, use it wisely as it can sway almost anyone to do anything.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

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