Compiling Stories

present with people Oct 16, 2023
Live a Great Story Now




In the desire to tell captivating tales, many leaders scour the depths of books, articles, and history to unearth the perfect story. These stories are important, but the most profound stories lie within your own life experiences and responses to challenges.

As Matthew Dicks, a seasoned TEDx speaker, and author, rightly put it on a recent Speak with People Podcast episode, “we don't need more success stories; we need to hear about failures and the lessons learned from them”.

To establish yourself as a compelling storyteller, focus on stories from your own journey. Trust me, your life is filled with amazing stories that you can use to inspire, challenge and encourage.

The reality is, you can start living a great story right now, in your everyday life. Every day offers a plethora of potentially life-changing stories if you're vigilant enough to recognize them. You don't have to wait for a grand adventure or extraordinary event; the ingredients for a great story are right in front of you. But, many of us don't feel that way, do we?

People often approach me after a presentation, saying, "I wish I had great stories like yours. Your experiences are incredible."

The truth is, they’re not wrong.

But, it didn’t just happen naturally. I’ve made very strategic decisions to live in a way that creates not only a great life, but great stories. Over time, I've learned how to mine my own life for stories and hone my storytelling skills to be able to share those experiences.

You may be wondering how to recognize and remember your stories.

Start with the most simple and effective ways you can: keep a journal of moments and situations in your life. Yeah, that’s it.

Remember that time a stranger helped you when you dropped your groceries? Write it down. Remember that time your son taught you a major life lesson? Write it down.

Remember that time you made a horrible decision and the consequences beat you up? Write it down.

In Matthew Dicks' groundbreaking book, "Storyworthy," he explores the concept of keeping a story journal. You can start by creating a simple Google spreadsheet. At the end of each day, or whenever a noteworthy event occurs, jot down a title for the story, a brief description of what happened, and the lesson you gleaned. After a month, you'll be astonished by the stories you've captured.

Now, the question is, can you begin to live a great story with your life right now?




Many of us are living a good story. Many more of us are living an okay story. Make the decision today to live a great story.

Here’s the reality: You are the only you on the planet. You are 100% unique, and that means you have the power to create a powerful story from your life. This is the exciting part of telling better stories. You get to tell stories that helped shape and form you into becoming a better version of yourself.

But before we delve into a checklist that will guide you on your new journey, let's address what might be holding you back:

  1.   Fear: Fear of attempting new things or taking that leap of faith often paralyzes us. 
  2.  Worry: Many believe that living a great story is reserved for those with large online platforms, abundant resources, or larger-than-life personas. Yet, every success story had a starting point. 
  3.  Small Dreaming: Some may think they lack significant dreams for their lives, but even small dreams can lead to impactful stories. 
  4.  Negative Voices: Other people can discourage and hinder progress. Replace these toxic influences with positive affirmations and encouragement from supportive sources.

I know for me, these four limiting factors have tried to hold me back.

Fifteen years ago, I was deeply impacted by a mission trip to South America. I had never experienced that level of poverty before. We spent ten days serving, and caring for children in an orphanage. It was a profound experience.

To be brutally honest, it wrecked me.

As I flew home and journaled about my experience, I realized how blessed I was and that I had the capacity to live an incredible story with my life. It also opened my eyes to the great need for adoption, and I knew that my wife and I would someday adopt.

But then, those four negative influences started to take over.

I came up with reason after reason why we could never adopt an orphan. About a decade later, when we embarked on the adoption journey, it was fraught with obstacles including the heartbreaking loss of the first child we sought to adopt. That’s a whole other story that I will never forget and will tell at another time.

Yet, we persevered and another orphanage in China connected us with a little boy with the same genetic disorder as our other children. This boy needed a home. Despite numerous setbacks, we pressed forward, documenting our journey online through stories, videos, and blog posts.

Finally, on January 18, 2017, we met our son for the first time and officially adopted him.

Adopting an orphan in China was a great story!

This life-altering experience not only transformed our family but also inspired us to communicate the urgent need for adoption to thousands of people. Imagine if we had let fear, worry, or small dreams stand in our way.

At a certain point, we stopped listening to the negative voices and we started to live a great story with our lives. Our son, now nine years old, has a loving family, grandparents, and an entire community that cherishes him.

This is the essence of a great story.




Let me ask you a question.

Is there a story you need to live and tell?

Have you been afraid or worried or fearful?

Have you lived a sub par story with your life instead of living a great story?

If the answers are yes, today is your day to decide to start living a great story! Here's a simple checklist to guide and help you in living a great story with your life.

  1. Be purposeful. You are the only you on the planet. Do something with the unique gifts you have been given. Don’t squander them. Don’t waste them. Learn to be purposeful with your life. Do everything you can to figure out your purpose and then live it with passion. If you’re struggling with that, schedule a discovery call today with one of Speak with People’s coaches to talk about our Life Design Program. This call could change your life and get you on the track to living out your purpose. 
  2. Be wise. Learn to value wisdom. When we’re young, sometimes wisdom doesn’t play an integral part in our lives and our story. But, if you’re going to live a great story with your life, you have to grab a hold of wisdom. Of course if you don’t, you may fill up your story journal with many examples of the opposite of living a great story. 
  3. Be strong. Learn to overcome your fears and worries. In 1996, my wife and brother somehow convinced me to go on a roller coaster with them at Cedar Point. There were two coasters next to each other at the park and I thought we were going on the smaller roller coaster. Nope. We went on the biggest, baddest, fastest and craziest ride they had. It was awful and I haven’t been on a roller coaster since! But, looking back, I’m glad I did it because it made for such a great story.
  4. Be on the lookout. Learn to pay attention to the opportunities around you. There are moments that happen every single day that could become a great story to tell. You just have to learn how to look for them. Start paying attention to your interactions with people and your surroundings. Once you learn how to be on the lookout, you can then add those moments to your story journal. 

After sharing our adoption story with a group of people, a woman came up to me. I had shared three different moments that happened during our trip to China that were very powerful. The kind of moments that literally and completely changed our lives. This woman started to share that she and her husband have adopted three children and she didn’t think she could think of one powerful moment from those trips.

I started asking her questions about her adoptions. Why did you adopt? What was the hardest part of your adoption process? Was there a moment when you thought you would never finish with the process? I didn’t even get three questions in before we had mined a few really good stories from their adoption process.

Just remember, you’re not used to looking for these stories. It’s going to take a little time. But, keep your eyes open and start filling your story journal with everyday moments.

Soon you will be telling amazing stories by simply living a great story with your life.


By Jason Raitz - President, Speak with People

Jason is known for his vivacious storytelling, making any presentation or talk come alive by making audiences laugh and lean in. Schedule a call with Jason to become a better storyteller.