How to Share Your Story
A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering called Momentum. It's was collection of music artists and their labels, radios stations, promoters and non-profits all gathered together to learn, grow and adapt to the ever changing landscape of radio and broadcast music.
Throughout the week, we had opportunity to hear from industry leaders how radio means different things to different people and the listening habits of the audience is evolving. We heard from musicians about their latest project and how, without partnerships with others in the room, their song doesn't go very far. We heard from non-profits—like us—who wanted to get their story told and how radio and artists have been vital proponents of advocacy to new audiences. We know that first hand. Thanks to the artists and advocates who have taken up the Blood:Water banner, we have been able to increase the number of people who are partnering with us in our work in Africa.
Yet, regardless of what category you fell in at Momentum, everyone there was asking someone for something. Play my song. Air my show. Care about my cause. Buy my book. Listen to my story. It was easy to get lost in the "I Need You" nature of the week and choose to do nothing. And I don't have to go to a conference to feel that way. The number of emails and appeals you get on a daily basis for your time, attention and resources can be exhausting and debilitating. Where do you start?
On the other side, for those of us who want people to care, it’s easy to feel that our voice is getting drowned out by other voices. You try shouting. You change the look. You add music. You take it away. The competitive ways to stay interesting and fresh can also be exhausting and debilitating.
So, how do you share your story?
Make it Simple. Life is full of complexities. It's easy to get bogged down in the long lists of details. And, at the end of the day, we want a song that we identify with, a tune that sticks to our bones, and a personality that doesn't over-complicate it with how we aren't measuring up. One of my favorite performances of the week was an artist whose background track wasn't working. At all. So, he decided he was just going to play it on the piano. I'm sure the original performance was going to be bigger, fuller, more of a package deal. However, just the voice and the piano was perfect. It was simple. And that is just what connected with those who heard it.
Be honest. We were told throughout the week at Momentum that our story mattered. Our individual and collective stories were important and worth sharing. Yet, our efforts to be authentic in a perfect Facebook-likeable world is hard, and authenticity is what is needed most in our stories. The ability to identify with someone on a personal level, the ability to say I'm not the only one, the ability to find freedom is knowing and being fully known. We all want to put our masks down and be honest, yet everyone is afraid to go first. Lead the way by being honest in the story.
Give it away. Our stories aren't our identities alone. It's how we are woven together with others that makes our story unique. The best feeling I have is when I experience life through the eyes and hearts of others. When I hear an artist share about our work in Africa, I am elated because it’s no longer my story, but theirs. When I hear a radio personality invite their listeners to give to our work, I am humbled because they are implicated in seeing themselves as a part of the solution. Don't hold onto it so tightly that others can't make it their own.
We all have a platform. We don't have to look only at an artist on stage or deejay with a microphone as someone with a platform. We all have a voice—to our families, to our friends, to our communities. As Dan from Jars once said about their platform to launch Blood:Water: "It’s not the biggest, but it’s not the smallest. If it's not nothing, it’s something." The same is true for all of us.
Tell your story so that others may share in your journey. Tell the story of others so it becomes your journey.
Hard at Start.
Fear in the Journey.
Fear in the coming home.
Part of the heart gets lost in the learning
Somewhere along the road.