We are all writing our own story — living our autobiographies.

An author writing a novel starts with a rough idea, progresses to an outline of a larger story and then begins to flesh out each scene, each character, each event. After all the work and rework, writing and rearranging, the manuscript is sent to an editor. The editor marks up every chapter and sends it back for yet another re-write. A story evolves.

Each of us is writing our own story. The story line, the characters, the next scene — all of it is in our own hands. Often we are convinced that the preceding story line must dictate what comes next in our story. What we forget is: it’s our autobiography. We own it. What comes next is our decision.

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You’ve probably heard me say I woke up on my fiftieth birthday, homeless, jobless, and alone for the first time in 31 years and yet I was better than I should have been. Partly because I was re-framing the situation that could have been seen as devastating into an opportunity to push the re-start button, a re-birth with all the wisdom of 50 years.

When we reflect on the story that has already been written, it’s helpful to re-frame some of the moments of distress. Re-frame: to look at a situation in a different way — a way that causes you to feel energized. The day the car accident maimed your body does not have to be the day all was lost. It could be the day you uncovered how strong you are. The day the judge banged the gavel declaring the end of your three decade marriage does not have to be the day you died. It could be the day you discovered yourself. The day the company downsized does not have to be the day you lost your identity. It could be the day you gained new direction. Re-framing what we are seeing in the rear view mirror helps us adjust the story line and write the story we intended to write all along.

Zig Ziglar loved talking about mining for gold. He said, “While mining for gold, you are going to find a lot of dirt.” When we are mining for gold, we do not focus on the dirt, we keep an eye open for the glimmer of gold. Finding the gold in our own story, informs our next chapter.

Own your story — build your legacy. Write something worth plagiarizing!

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