By Gregory Ferrett
Welcome to Monday
Last week I had a few cancerous skin spots removed – one of them on my face.
The doctor, when explaining the procedure, told me how much skin they needed to cut outside the cancer, how long the cut would be and the direction they would cut the skin to minimise the scar on my face.
While a scar on my face does not really concern me, it got me to thinking about scars and the stories behind each one.
Linda Hogan says it well “Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact there is healing”
As a child scars are our marks of experience. Children brag about their scars and share stories. My scars include a finger sewn back on when it was severed in a door, an appendix removed in a third world country, a wrist cut when I slipped with a knife harvesting grapes and numerous cancer spots.
Airbrush of life
As adults we go to a lot of effort to hide scars and imperfections. The internet is full of discussions like ‘How do I put a value on a scar for a lawsuit” (google this phrase for examples) with the focus being on ‘who is to blame’ and the ‘emotional or career damage’ a scar causes.
The Oscars is a time when movie stars arrive to display their ‘perfection’ on the red carpet. Grouch Marx, when commenting on one movie star, said “She got her good looks from her father … he was a plastic surgeon”. To me it’s obvious when someone has spent too much time having their blemishes removed and I wonder about what is really going on in tier life. My father in law used to say “She has had so many face lifts when she raises her eyebrows her toes curl!”
Scars Define Who You are
Everyone’s life is full of scars. When I am coaching people I look for the scars. The road bumps of life. They can be emotional, physical and sometime spiritual. Most people are reluctant to share and want to put up a veneer of perfection. It is not until we start having discussions about the scars and sharing what our lives are about when coaching starts.
In business and sales we want to hide the bad reference, we avoid talking about failures, in fear people may not want to do business with us. We try and paint the perfect picture of who we are and what our business is and can do. A bit like airbrushing our photograph or having plastic surgery.
Scars are your war stories, the experiences of life that make you interesting, that make your business interesting. I like to hear the stories of individuals and businesses and where they have struggled and won through. The contracts won and lost, the projects where their business was put at risk and won through.
Own your story
My father, a history teacher, says “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”. The real meaning behind this is letting the stories of your life take meaning. A story with just the facts is boring. A story about a life experience, the lessons learned and how you responded is so much more interesting. Embellish the story with humour and colour. It is not that you are covering things up – you are sharing your life’s story and learning in an interesting and meaningful way.
It is exactly the same in business.
My father in law was a fabric dyer. He tells the story of a client who insisted on using a particular chemical process with a natural fibre. He knew it would not work the way his client wanted, however, the client was insistent. He then shared a story with his client about how the same plan to turn the fabric into a deep shade of blue ended up looking like a ‘tie dyed mess’ and after a few laughs relented and allowed him to use a different chemical process.
He had used the scar and an embellished humorous story (probably not so humorous at the time) to engage with his client, build rapport and close a sale.
Scars and imperfections are a part of every life. It is what makes you who you are. What you make of them defines who you will be.
Today’s question and actions
What are the scars in you life? Your business? Your career?
1. How can you turn this experience into an engaging story?
2. What are the lessons you learned?
3. What are the positive messages you can attached to the story.
The experiences of life can cause scaring. It is the way you respond to those experiences that create you as an individual.
Have a great week!