What Is Your Backstory?

What Is Your Backstory?

There were eight of us sitting around the table. The vast majority were seasoned speakers who are used to telling stories and teaching in front of crowds. Mark Levy (the guy who helped Simon Sinek find “Start With Why”) was sitting at the table. He is an expert in positioning as evidenced by Sinek’s tremendous success.

I had never heard of the term “backstory” the way the others were talking. Phil, who was sitting at the table shared his backstory. It was about his families hotel that they opened many years ago. He worked there growing up but didn’t want to take over as an adult when his parents were ready to sell. You see, Phil learned many lessons from his experience. Lessons that help others build ridiculously successful and profitable businesses. Something his parents were unable to do. He learned from his backstory and carried it forward in his life, in his career and his business in a way that would make a far-reaching impact. The story was riveting.

One by one we went around the table and shared our story. It was a powerful experience that deeply connected all of us.

When it was my turn, I started to share my go-to story. You know, the one about becoming an entrepreneur by selling things at the flea market so I could buy those jeans I wanted in order to fit in. Then something stopped me…

A voice in my head said, “That’s not the real reason.”

I shifted gears and decided to tell a story I’ve never told before.

The real story of #entrepreneurship I never told Click To Tweet

The summer between grade five and six, I was a very sick little girl.

One morning when I went to the bathroom, it was all blood. I was hemorrhaging from my bowel. The doctor reassured my mom that I would be okay, I wouldn’t bleed like my grandfather who had diverticulitis. My mom went off to work and as the day went on, things got worse.My Story - What is Your Backstory?

I spent most of the day at the doctor’s office waiting for my mom. They called her at work and let her know that I would need to be taken to the hospital in the city which was two hours away. My mom wasn’t allowed to leave work.

My mom raised me as a single parent. Her greatest fear was losing me and thus, having an income that could support us was almost as important to her as I was. No money meant she couldn’t take care of me, and if she couldn’t take care of me, she was afraid she would lose me.

She was a single parent forty years ago when it wasn’t common to raise your child alone.

Her boss, a man named Otto told her that she wasn’t the only one who had problems. He had problems too and he needed her to stay and do her job. If she left, she would lose that job.

He was an evil, mean-spirited man who had no empathy for my mom’s situation at all.

At the end of the day, my mom rushed to the doctor’s office to get me and take me to the city. She, my Aunt, and I piled into the car and away we went. The doctor didn’t realize how grave the situation was.

I spent a week in intensive care. The only place they could find a pulse was in my feet when I arrived. I was transfused several times because I had lost so much blood.

In that moment, I remember seeing my mom’s agony over not being able to be there for me the way she wanted. I saw the hatred she had for her boss who wouldn’t let her go, and I understood how difficult the situation was she had been placed in.

When that happened, I vowed I would never be in that situation. I would never allow someone else to decide for me. I also vowed I’d never need money so badly that I couldn’t be there for the people who mattered most to me.

This is why helping business owners create sustainable, and financially secure businesses matter so much to me. I never want another parent to have to go through what my mom went through.

And I will never be Otto to anyone on my team.Five Ways Bartering is Bleeding Your Business

After sharing at dinner that night, everyone felt that this backstory I shared was powerful and moving. The next day, Mark Levy took the main stage to teach us about positioning and to do an exercise with the room full of people on backstory.

I was having a conversation with someone who was sitting to the right of me when all of a sudden I heard my name being called. Not once, not twice, but three times. I look up and it’s Mark calling to me from the stage.

He asked me if I would share what I do, what my old story was, and the story I told the night before at dinner.

I was NOT expecting this.

I shared my backstory in front of almost 150 people. Telling the story made me emotional because I love my mom so much. I know how difficult the choices and the path were for her raising me back then. There weren’t many dry eyes in the room after I finished.

For the next two days, people sought me out to share how my story impacted them. One person who worked for the hotel shared with me that he feels like my mom must have felt. He is the sole breadwinner in his family while his wife stays home with four kids. Choking back tears he told me he isn’t able to be there for his kids and spend enough time with them. I could feel the guilt and remorse this man feels because he has to choose between providing for his family and being there for them.

Your backstory is an integral part of who you are, why you do the things you do and it is the exact place you can tap into for the passion and inspiration you need to live the life you really want.

Start thinking about the stories in your life that lead you to where you are today. Examine them and ask yourself, why are you the way you are? What do you want to change in the future? How can you tap into this and let it fuel you towards living the life you really want.

Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you peace of mind, freedom and time to be there for the people who matter most to you.

I would love to hear in the comments how your business is connected to your back story.

Are you a Thought Reader?

I am bringing a group of people together for a year who are interested in learning and discussing what they learn in a private community.

One book a month for an entire year.

Learn More
reader_bloglisa

Usable Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Every week in your inbox!

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep
Who Grants You Permission?

9 Comments

  1. This is a really good article, and I shared it to my buisness page, because as a content writing consultant I can offer to help my clients develop thier backstories.

    I don’t know what I would say for my backstory.

    I was abused as a child, and reading books was my escape from the terrible life I lived, where the people who were supposed to love me bruised my soul with so many beatings and cruel words that I lost count. I became an expert at reading body language and intention, and in my wild efforts to avoid beating, I learned persuasive communication, as it can be taught in no other way. I became an expert in makng very upset people become less upset or possibly happy. I learned to avoid misunderstandings and speak in the right way to communicate to my audience.

    I used books to imagine and create alternative lives that I could live. I invented other families that would love me, and I invented wild futures for myself, always as a writer.

    Most importantly, I can literally, truthfully do anything. I know I can do absolutely anything because I survived my childhood. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and I am not grateful for the experience, but I do know that I am unstoppable. No matter what happens in my life, I know who I am and that I will find a way.

    • wow that is so powerful. I am sorry you experienced that in your life but it’s incredible to see how your story helps you help others to communicate theirs.

  2. This blog post really hit close to home with me and brought back memories of my earlier years. I was a single mom of a boy from the early 90’s not receiving support from his father at all. Luckily I was living in a duplex owned by my parents and had them around. My mom showed me the value of hard work and honesty/integrity and I made sure I taught my son this also. Now he has his own business and is working hard. Being a single mom is not easy especially when you have a deadbeat dad but I had no choice but to forge ahead in times of difficulty. Thank you Lisa for this post and your mom for bring up such an inspiring woman in you.

  3. First, Lisa, you made me cry. Thank you for your authenticity and humanity. This ‘why’ can shift mindsets about money all over the world. You are such an inspiration to me and many others.

    Personally, my why comes from being silenced as a child. From having to go to a French school and not knowing a word of French and wetting myself on the bus on the way home every day because the teacher wouldn’t let me use the washroom unless I asked in French; to being abused and threatened if I told; to raising a transgender child and not knowing who is safe to confide in. I now spend my every day giving women a voice, giving them the confidence to write, and giving them an avenue to be read, heard, and seen. Silenced no more.

    • you do an amazing job using your story to help others use their voice, and you use your voice well. Your courage in sharing your son’s story is impacting and changing perceptions as well as creating advocates who were silent before and is also creating a story for him about what it means to be loved unconditionally for exactly who he is. I am proud to know you Tammy.

  4. Wow Lisa a poignant and powerful story. You are an amazing woman, thank you for your compassion and commitment to helping others.

  5. Lisa, thank you for sharing your story. It proves how effective storytelling can be as a way of communicating with others. But more importantly, it’s a great exercise for anyone, no matter whether they are self-employed or otherwise, to figure out their real backstory. Chances are that once they understand their own backstory, they will have so much valuable information about their own motivations, hot buttons, and limiting beliefs that they will be able to become much more successful.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Close