By: Kimberly Inskeep
I love a great story. When I was a child, it was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I was in high school, it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, it’s stories like The Shawshank Redemption or Unbroken. We love stories because they touch something deep within us unlike any other mechanism. They open new worlds we cannot access on our own but also put perspective on our life experiences, making them feel richer, more dynamic, and meaningful. I love thinking of life’s journey as a story—a story as unique as the individual living it. When we see our lives as stories, this lens clarifies our how we spend our days, challenging us to ponder whether we are living a big, significant story that will last after we’re gone, or a ho-hum and predictable existence.
I deeply desire to live a bigger story—and I bet you do too. These are the mindsets helping me do that day-by-day.
1. Believe in big possibilities.
When I was a kid, people around me may have thought I had delusions of grandeur. I always believed a pursuit could evolve into something of epic proportions; whether I was imagining that my community play could have the pomp and circumstance of Broadway, or that my Christmas bow-making hobby could be turned into a legitimate business at age 8, I often talked “as if” before it came to be, focusing on what could be. When I co-founded cabi, a little business by women and for women, I talked about becoming the largest social selling clothing company in the country and one of the best entrepreneurial opportunities for women—and it has. Whatever your chief pursuit is in this moment, think big and talk “as if.” Don’t curtail your story’s possibilities by thinking and talking small.
2. Believe in exploring the world.
I grew up in a small, safe bedroom community in middle America, but always believed I needed exposure to something different and maybe even risk danger. Whether you pick up and move like I did, or simply shake up the daily routine, exposing ourselves to things outside our natural circles and environments will paint the world with new colors, add layers, and bring new aha’s. Nothing keeps us in a small story like never trying anything new.
3. Believe in intentionally working through your “tough stuff.”
My life changed when I began going to counseling…but it sure wasn’t easy to make that first appointment. After all, “counseling was only for the really broken people.” Not too long after, I broke free of patterns and view points I had been previously fettered to. Bit by bit, over years, I have grown able to relinquish the things that could keep my story small and all about me, so I can get past myself and focus on other people. Don’t let your issues keep you self-focused, when the truly big story that awaits you is others-focused. Working through them might be the bravest and strongest thing you ever do.
4. Believe in the endless value of every person.
I’ve come to learn the foundational truth that every human life is precious and rare. That realization creates an openness to meet people and learn something we never could if I stayed in the same, safe circle of acquaintances. But it requires asking people questions and being mindful of how much we talk about ourselves versus how much we invite others to share their stories. When our goal is to find out what makes each person precious and rare, small talk can turn into life-giving conversation.
5. Believe in giving people chances.
(That’s plural for a reason.)We have a tendency to write people off the moment they hurt us, or don’t meet our expectation of who we think they should be, or have viewpoints much different than our own. Based in the idea of valuing people, when we choose to create a space of grace, we not only meet people exactly where they’re at, but we broaden our emotional and relational intelligence, making us an all-around deeper and wiser person. Yes, it can be immensely healthy to walk away from some people at a certain point, but we tend to do so too quickly, and thereby miss out on some phenomenal illumination that can make our world bigger.
6. Believe in books.
In this busy world, we don’t often find time to read. But we must! Even in the busiest times in my life, 5 minutes every night before falling to sleep has lead to eventually tackling many books over the years. Reading brings us so many benefits—it is more complex than passively watching TV or movies, as reading strengthens our brain’s connections and even makes new ones. All deep and significant thoughts take time and space to develop but our Twitter-feed world is losing its ability to stick with a book, and therefore stick with deep thinking. Books expose us not only to fresh topics and ideas, but also increase our imagination and empathy as we relate to characters through descriptive emotions. It’s plain to see how much you can elevate you own…through enveloping yourself in stories.
What mindsets have helped you live a bigger story?