You’re always in the middle of one story or another. Your story is your ongoing narrative about what’s going on.

The main story, of course, is about you. You’re the leading character!

What you’re experiencing right now, if you’re demotivated, is an unpleasant episode. 

For example, at your annual performance review, your manager says, on a 1-5 scale (where 5 is best), you’re a 3.

Huh? How could you be a 3? Obviously there’s been a terrible mistake.

“No,” your boss says, “3 means solid performance.”

Your boss is in the middle of her own story. In her story, you’re a supporting character; the fact that you’re a 3 is just fine. There are lots of 3s in her story. You could have a long run in her story as a 3.

But you’ve got your own story to worry about, and in your story something’s wrong. 

“SOMETHING’S WRONG” is a classic plot, with three variations.

  1. something’s wrong with this entire organization!
  2. with my manager!
  3. (oh, no!) with me.

All probably true.  

Is something wrong with your organization? Of course there is—organizations are made of humans, and humans are, without exception—even you and me!—flawed.

But that story won’t energize you, and it won’t get your job done.

Change the story. How? First, separate the story from the facts. Ask two questions about whatever is bothering you (based on the work of psychologist Albert Ellis):

1) What are the facts?  “The facts,” you might answer, “are that the boss just insulted me—she called me a 3.” 

Too subjective. Strip it down, just the facts.

(Better): “My performance rating, in this period, is a 3.” 

2) What’s my story (what are you telling yourself about the facts)? 

“Getting a 3 is like getting a C in school, it means I’m nothing special. I feel insulted.”  

Notice that the problem—what’s making you upset—isn’t the facts, it’s the story. But that gives you power; you’re in charge of the story. 

So change the story. 

For example: “This 3 is about my job performance last year. It’s not about my worth as a person.

“My worth can’t be rated numerically—although if it could, I’m pretty sure I’d be at least a 3.86.”

Tip: When your motivation sags, change your story.

P.S. Your story impacts your presence.  For more presence, please check out: You’ve Got 8 Seconds, my latest book, now available in print, kindle & audio.

It’s been translated into 5 languages, selected by a Fortune 50 company for their book club, and named one of the best biz books of the year by an obscure, but obviously brilliant, Canadian newspaper.

P.P.S. Bulletproof Feedback, available as a workshop or webinar, is about giving & getting feedback that improves performance. For this & other programs, please click here.

To get these fast tips, click here

PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful. For more info: please call 508-879-0934, or email

© Copyright 2019 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.