Assessments defined: The language we use to interpret the world. Sometimes we call assessments stories. We create stories to help us make sense of the world. When we are unaware of the story – when we take it as TRUTH – we are characters in the story. When we are mindful of the story we take over the power as the AUTHOR of the story.
The stories we create become our “world view” or the lenses with which we see the world. These lenses may magnify, they may filter, they may draw attention to certain attributes at the expense of others. When we become aware of these stories for what they really are – when we are able to see the lenses – we can begin to see around them. New possibilities and new poresults emerge. By noticing these we move from holding a worldview to creating new worlds. Now THAT is powerful.
Where do these stories come from?
Many of the stories we create have been with us for a while. We may have generated a story to help us manage a stressful situation. We may have established them as children. We may have inherited them from our parents, or our culture. The act of reliving the story over time creates and strengthens the neural pathways that allow us to continue to “let the story be true.” We resort to this story time and again, adding “proof” and “justification.”
It is human nature to create these stories. It has helped us to survive. Whatever the reason we created the story in the first place, they may not be continuing to serve us in the present time. Or, we may be paying a price. By becoming aware of the story, we reclaim the POWER TO CHOOSE how we would like to continue to serve the need, without experiencing the limiting cost.
So, are stories bad? No! They’re neither good nor bad. We’ve been creating them to serve a purpose for many years. We will continue to do so. We invite you to widen your awareness so that you can be mindful and choiceful… so that you can move from the position of character to author.
Step 1: Become aware:
When you notice yourself acting from or speaking something that might be a story, ask — is this a universal truth or an interpretation? If it can not be universally proven true or false, it is likely a story. Consider when you created your story. Verbalize your discovery:
Example: An early mentor in business told me “never apologize – it shows weakness” and I created a story that to be successful in business, I must show that I am strong and in control at all times and never make any mistakes.
Step 2: Identify how this story served you:
When we create stories, we created them because of some underlying need. Sometimes the story persists even after the need has been satisfied and no longer exists. Other times, the need still exists and if we don’t solve the need in some other way, we will feel compelled to go back to the old story that has served us.
Example: As a young professional, having a mentor in my life was very important to me. Do I still need a mentor? (Yes) Are these the leadership traits I admire and want as my mentor or would I like to request a new mentor?
Step 3: Identify how this story has limited you:
Many of the stories we live with as though they are unchangeable truths have resulted in collateral damage. Understanding the impact can be a motivating factor in changing the story.
Example: As I continued to lead through my story of strength, I’ve found myself feeling ashamed of mistakes and afraid to be transparent in them. My fear of has resulted in an inauthentic leadership style that lacks confidence and has limited my performance. Further, because I don’t trust my authenticity, I also do not trust the authenticity of leadership around me.
Step 4: Reclaim the power to choose a different story.
Example: This is not a truth. This is a story I came to believe based on my experience. I choose to no longer believe this story. By freeing myself of the story, I can find my authentic leadership style AND be more appreciative and trusting of leaders that I admire and find a new mentor.
The very first and most important key to assessments is all about realizing that they are there. They are neither good nor bad, but we can stumble when we think that they are TRUTH rather than stories. The goal is not to live without them, but simply to know that they are there. One of the greatest stories we live in is the story of being in love. This is a story that serves us so very well. We feel a great love for our children and our spouses and it feels like TRUTH but it is really just a set of lenses with which we make sense of those relationships. I’m not taking mine off. So why is it important to know that those lenses are there even if we don’t want to remove them? Because knowing that it’s not an unchangeable fact makes us responsible and accountable for protecting the story – for continuing to work to ground and make that story true every day of our lives. It makes us responsible for our actions and motivates us to continue to feed that story, not as a character waiting for love to happen at us, but as the AUTHOR, powerful to create love on every page.