Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they say one word that speaks so deeply to you that you automatically zone out? That happened to me recently when I was talking (whining really) to a friend about some challenges in my life. The friend said something to the effect that we have to find a way to tell our story so that it speaks to others. That is when it hit me in the back of my head and started spreading like a cerebral forest fire. I immediately remembered back in 2000 when I started a manufacturing business out of the kitchen of my 900SF apartment. It started as a natural soap company and grew in three short years into a spa products manufacturing business in a 1000 SF facility. We were shipping product all over the world. We were featured in Redbook Magazine, Vegan Times, newspapers all over the world, QVC and even Fortune Magazine’s “500 Up and Coming Franchise Opportunities.” While our products were all natural, they were nothing unique for the market at the time. What I discovered that sold our products was our story of humble beginnings. Yes, there was that element again – my story. It occurred to me as I was talking with this friend that I’ve not really told my story very well. I was offering vanilla in a world screaming for Fudge Swirl with a cherry on top. I was assuming that my pedigree was enough to interest people in what I was doing. Nowhere was I telling my story that speaks to my passions and the “WHY” of what I was offering potential clients.
Using my friend’s analogy, my story is layered like an onion. With each layer comes a complexity that makes me who I am. I will begin my story in the 5th grade. I was never a stellar student in elementary school. I was labeled hyper-active and learning disabled – an Interesting diagnosis given that I am neither. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my parents to hold me back another year and my parents were basically told to prepare themselves that I would be lucky to finish high school and would likely end up working labor jobs to earn a living. My parents held me back (which they later regretted). I was now labeled the kid that wouldn’t amount to anything. I tell you this because, I earned my Eagle Scout award, graduated from High School with honors, attended a 4 year university and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. I later went back for a Masters in Organizational Leadership and in December 2013 will complete my work on a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with a GPA of 3.89. I have traveled the world lecturing. I am a published author and have a growing following on twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., and I adjunct at Middle Tennessee State University. So there is my pedigree, but what does that have to do with my passion and my “WHY”? My passion and my WHY has everything to do with the fact that I was not supposed to be here. If I had listened to someone else’s opinion of me, I shouldn’t have accomplished any of this. My passion… my WHY is my drive to help others do better than what is expected. In my 20+ years of business experience, I’ve learned that the way we “DO” business is flawed. We don’t have to run business the way we do. We don’t have to treat our employees the way we do. We don’t have to build organizational structures the way we do. We should not be using 19th century ideas to run a 21st century organization.
My story… I want people to move past what the world thinks they ought to be and move into what they are called to be. I want to help people move past the false stories that they tell themselves. My calling is to help people and the organizations they serve to achieve new levels of efficiency and empowerment. I help people stand in the future and imagine possibilities others have ignored. My story is about taking what others have given up on and creating the empowerment needed to move to an extraordinary existence. When we change the story we tell and the way we view our future – we have the power to create a fantastic future for ourselves and for everyone around us.
Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.