Emerson Spartz is the 34-year-old Internet media entrepreneur who founded Dose and created the most popular Harry Potter fan site in the world, MuggleNet, at age 12. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine a few years back, he shared that when he was growing up, his parents made him read four short biographies of successful people every single day.
Not a bad idea for your kids — or you. (Biography.com is a good place to start.)
But don’t just read others’ biographies; write your own too.
Why You Should Write Your Biography
Writing your biography serves two purposes. First, it helps you clarify who you are, how you got to where you are, and who you want to be going forward.
Second, it creates a legacy you can leave behind for your spouse, children, or other loved ones.
Write It For Yourself
Whom you are comes from your exposure to date—a sum of all your experiences—and it’s beneficial to ponder it.
It’s easy to forget all the things you have accomplished or survived, and remembering those details can provide a boost to your self-esteem. After all, no one has lived your unique life, and that’s something to be proud of.
It can also help you better understand yourself – from your inner motivation and biases to your strengths and weaknesses. Writing forces you to slow down and honestly evaluate yourself as you put words to what you’ve thought, felt, and acted.
Write It For Others
How many of you have lost a parent or someone important to you? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to read their life story? To know the story of what shaped them?
Your family would like the same from you.
Sharing your story can also help your children and grandchildren become more resilient. Studies conducted by Emory University have found that family stories impact how children handle stressful situations.
According to a recent article by Emory News on the studies, “When children learn family stories it creates a shared history, strengthens emotional bonds and helps them make sense of their experiences when something senseless happens.”
Your life story can be a beautiful legacy that furthers flourishing and connection in your family for years to come.
How To Write Your Story
Writing your entire biography may feel a little daunting, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
The easiest thing to do is simply write down details from the beginning of your life to where you are now. Start at the beginning and keep going.
Write your career and life progression but don’t make it obituary-like with just the facts. Instead, add the “color” of your life — your loves, your losses, your dreams, and your goals going forward.
You can use a simple outline to organize your story and then fill in the details. Include (at the bare minimum) the following key details:
- Where and how you grew up
- Early influences and influencers who shaped you
- Choices you had and decisions (good and bad) that you made
- The experiences that shaped or changed your life—personally and professionally.
- Most difficult challenges you’ve faced and the shining moments of your life
- And don’t forget to add what you still want to do in life—both personally and professionally.
You’ll probably find yourself including many anecdotes as you add these details. Don’t make them too long.
First, set the scene and the situation. Next, explain what you did about it, particularly as compared to what others were doing about it. And finally, what resulted? What happened?
As you write, you’ll find places where it makes sense to share your particular philosophy of life, your own particular method for tackling problems, or other personal perspectives. Add those!
Your family will enjoy the insight into your inner thoughts and you may gain some additional clarity on who you are and how you want to live.
Don’t Wait to Write Your Story
Start writing your story on your next long flight or bad weather weekend. Better yet, don’t wait for either of those.
Start today. Yes, today!
Right now, start putting down notes about past and present work accomplishments and anecdotal memories that pop into your head—favorite family stories, the facts, dates, and time frames of major events, and so on.
Then, keep your story as a living document and a personal chronicle. Add to it as you encounter new experiences, adventures, successes, and even setbacks.
Trust me. Your significant other will enjoy reading it, and when the kids are old enough, give them a copy they can enjoy too.
’ve been working with high-level C-Suite executives for over 30 years. If you could use help forging a new direction for your story, contact me. IContact me to discuss coaching, or if you have a group of emerging leaders, for a speaking engagement.