I was asked this question during DSIL Innovation Leadership Course I attended last week. Question marks popped up in my head when I heard the question. I couldn’t see how stories and growth are connected.
I struggled to find a story to tell, a story which needed to be told for me to grow. I kept searching and searching for a story. No stories came up in my head even though having experienced life thus far, I must have had so many stories to tell. Time was running out, I had to come up with a story to tell. I finally settled with one.
I thought finding a story was the difficult part, telling it was much more difficult. It was more difficult not only because telling my personal story to my cohorts whom I had only known for a couple days was outside my comfort zone, but it also meant I had to face and accept my own truths – truths that I had been avoiding for a long time.
Luckily, my cohorts – those who I can proudly call family – held the sacred space for me to tell my story. Not only did they listened to me with full empathy, their stories enabled me to learn things about myself. More importantly, their stories gave me the courage to tell mine. As I listened to some of my cohorts’ stories, I realized that the story I first picked was only half of my truth. In order for me to grow, I needed to tell another story to make my truth whole. At that moment, I knew exactly which other story I needed to tell for me to make my truth whole and it would be a much more difficult story for me to tell compared to the first one I had picked. However, I knew deeply inside my heart that it needed to be told for me to boldly grow.
It was my turn to tell my story - the "whole" story. My heart started to beat faster and faster as anxiety kicked in. It was time for me to face the truth that I had been avoiding. Within the sacred space held by love, empathy and shared vulnerabilities, I found courage to honestly share my story. After telling my story, I felt the warmth of empathy coupled with lots of hugs from everyone around me. I felt light. I have come to accept my own truth wholeheartedly. It was at that moment that I realized the power of stories. By telling the story I was living, I liberated myself from my inner critics which were holding me back. By telling the story, I have became empowered to grow boldly as a leader.
Storytelling has enabled me to grow. And I will keep growing as there are many stories, both about myself and others, to be told. As a leader, I will strive to hold this sacred space for others to tell their stories so that we can grow together as a community.
Thank you DSIL team for making the course possible and my cohorts for holding the space for me to tell my stories.
This is only the beginning of my leadership journey, many more stories to come.
“Through others, you will find yourself”