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If there is one thing a sorority woman has, it is a story. Whether that story is why she chose to be in a sorority or the moment she accepted her bid, the foundation of a sorority woman is her story. Harnessing your story and sharing it with others is leadership through narrative. Let me tell you why and how.

Story of Self

In our day-to-day lives, we experience the ups and downs of whatever may come our way, making our experiences rich and complex, and most importantly, shareable. An essential skill to have is reflecting and interpreting our lives and delivering our story in a few short minutes. The short story you tell is your “story of self.”

First, reflect on the challenges you faced. Ask yourself why you got involved. Why did you make the choices you made? What feelings of satisfaction or frustration developed from your experience? By asking yourself questions, you create an intense story of self. A practice I use is the “Five Whys.” Sakichi Toyoda made the “Five Whys” and used it within the Toyota Motor Corporation to evolve manufacturing methodology through an iterative process investigating cause-and-effect relationships. 

Then, you craft your narrative. There are three key domains you must tackle when developing a story of self: challenge, choice and outcome. For example, consider the challenge of choosing which sorority to join. The challenge I faced was that every chapter was excellent. In a week, I built connections with many women. I had to make a choice. When I eventually decided, I asked myself, why did I do it this way instead of another way? What have I learned?

Finally consider, what happens next. You have developed a story of self and are ready to share. I encourage you to share it! Then invite and encourage others to share their stories. Storytelling is relationship building that provides an opportunity to learn the values of others and find community.

Marshal Ganz, a community organizer, credited for developing the grassroots campaign that buoyed President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008, produced five foundational elements of narrative leadership.

Ganz said that leadership is about enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty, and that first begins by building relationships through the story of self. Then you can motivate others by engaging in the “story of us.” Together, you can strategize to approach your shared goals. And finally, you develop the skill of action where the community you’ve built together through stories brings forth action tackling critical problems.

Share Your Story

So, harness your power as a sorority woman. Share your story with as many people who are willing to listen because your story has power. Sharing your story of sorority membership with a classmate could lead to that person becoming a member. Encouraging your sisters to share their stories can enlighten your entire local community to become aware of the great things your community does. Encourage others to share, build community and go forth and conquer!   

Written by Tyne Riddick

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