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Nelson Mandala said courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

The words took me back to a time when one of my late teachers once said that we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment and cheerfulness, and triumph with humility.

If you are a human being, then most likely you have faced tribulations in your life. The only difference is that those adversities would have occurred at a different time, a different place, with different people.

You can allow them to define you or not.

You have the choice to stay stuck or not.

You have the power to label it as a triumph or a failure.

Regardless what took place, it happened. It’s up to us to decide the meaning we give these events.

Have you ever taken the time to stop, breathe and reflect on your life to see how far you have come?

How often have you looked back at your triumphs and were able to really understand why you had to go through what you went through but at the time you couldn’t see your way out of the situation?

Life is a story

A personal story is your experience, your memories and your feelings. You will most often share it individually, as you engage with someone whose interest and support you hope to cultivate.

In detecting the emotional charge in your life story, your biography, you can begin to see how the fragments of your history have worked in ways that have affected your past, your present, your health and your success.

Often, your repeating stories keep you stuck in the past. However, by putting your story on paper and reading it from an external perspective, you can identify key patterns, causes, effects and valuable insight.

Then you can grow.

We all have a story to tell

In a workshop that I facilitated some time ago, I asked all the participants, ‘if your story were up on a billboard, what would the title of your story be?

Let’s do this together.

Write that down and title it the ‘headline’.

Now, write a list of all the main characters that were part of your triumphs. What teachers, mentors, coaches, bosses, boy/girlfriends, enemies, friends and family that really stand out for you in each period of your life?

Next, list your major events. Pull out the best stories from your timeline. What is the tone of your story? What did you learn from each event? For example, if you had a happy or challenging childhood, falling in and out of love, being made redundant, fought battles in relationships and so on.

Then for each one, if you were to tap into your emotions and the story that you have carried all of these years, what is revealing right in front of your eyes? Write down all that comes to mind – emotions, feelings, thoughts, ideas and what opportunities you see with your eyes today.

Capture the spirit of the times

As you are reflecting on your previous surroundings, ask yourself symbolically:

  • How was your story shaped?
  • What was your influence?
  • What were some obvious signs that were not prevalent then but today are very clear?

Now to wrap it all up, write one paragraph – the first draft of your story. Make it brief.

Explain your connection, what happened, the impact of the event and person referenced in your story. Include the result and why this mattered then, now and in the future.

If you go back to your heading, is it aligned with your one-paragraph draft or do you now have to change your title?

Just like a pendulum, swing back into your past and bring it forward into your present to rewrite your story and influence your future.

What have you overcome?

Shape your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph by answering these questions:

  • What adversity have you overcome?
  • What obstacles or challenges have you conquered?
  • What are your triumphs?
  • What great victories or achievements have you accomplished?

Sometimes, looking back to see what you have achieved builds strength and power. Just don’t hang on to it.

Name your victories and wins. How did you celebrate them?

We often don’t give ourselves permission or the time to celebrate our small wins. What kind of messages are you sending your brain when you don’t rejoice?

‘Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.’

It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story so far.

It’s how you fill up the rest of the pages that counts.