The Notion: Acknowledge the Mentors on Your Journey to Success
Sooner or later, as a high-achieving professional, you’ll be invited to share your journey to success. The very thought may trigger a nervous response. After all, we’ve been socially conditioned not to “brag.”
Let’s simplify the process with a strategy. Every speech orbits a central theme. In the “about me” speech, it’s this:
Success is never a solo venture. Credit your influencers, role models, and mentors, though your personal triumph remains the focal point. Consider your life story as a three-act play:
Act I – your early years, Act II – career initiation, and Act III – the pinnacle of success.
To illustrate, let’s revisit my coaching experience with Alex, a prosperous executive and multimillionaire. At their annual gathering, 700 realtors were well aware of Alex’s financial success but ignorant of his humble upbringing as an illegitimate child. His speech commenced with, “I never knew my mother and met my father at 14. I was raised by my grandmother, and life was perfect.”
That set the scene for Alex’s Act I. Who was his first hero? His grandmother. He acknowledged her influence, her principles, her love, and her passing when he was 14. That’s when he relocated to live with his father and newfound siblings.
In Alex’s Act II, at 20, he was a milkman relishing his work-life balance. But the business owner recognized his potential and steered him toward entrepreneurship. The third act introduced his “adoptive grandfather,” another mentor who nudged him to supersede his self-perceived boundaries.
Alex’s speech wove through the lives of those whose guidance shaped his success. By featuring their actual words, Alex was a hero not because he was successful, but because he acknowledged those who made it possible.
Consider Joan, another client of mine from a tech firm, interviewing for a position within her company against an experienced candidate. She was successful but uncertain about discussing it. Her life story, too, was a three-act play.
Act I hero: her mother, who at 32, after losing her husband, was determined to provide for her family. She said to Joan, “This will never happen to you. Get an education so you can support a family if you’re alone.” She went back to school and inspired Joan to focus on her education.
Act II hero: a school counselor, recognizing her potential, helped Joan navigate her career path. In Act III, a supportive executive guided Joan towards strategic career planning, ensuring her success. Joan’s life was abundant with memorable stories and valuable advice, eventually securing her the job.
Inevitably, newly promoted executives were asked to narrate their career story. So, the narrative that secured Joan her job also became the presentation she delivered in her new role.
The essence of talking about yourself comfortably lies in crafting your narrative as a three-act play. The icing on the cake? Bestow the best lines to your characters. Replicate their advice in your speech. Alex did it with his grandmother’s, business consultant’s, and adopted grandfather’s advice. Joan followed suit with her mother’s, counselor’s, and executive’s guidance.
Imagine my thrill when a renowned celebrity athlete sought my expertise to design his speech for a Fortune 100 company. I suggested, “Design your speech like a screenplay. Open with ‘It was the most exhilarating moment of my life.’ What’s the story?” He disclosed it was winning a world-renowned race for the second time, after losing everything – a comeback narrative.
Don’t forget, if you need help to create the masterpiece of your masterpiece, Patricia Fripp can help.
Patricia was just awarded her second Cicero Speechwriting Award by the Professional Speechwriters Association.
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