This morning I got an email from my dad — a one-paragraph missive from deepest Saudi Arabia…
I arrived yesterday in Riyadh and will be here on a World Bank mission until Dec. 14 when I return to Costa Rica.
I haven’t seen much of the country yet, but the area around the capital is very flat and sandy. Roads are wide, straight and well paved. Women are, for the most part, very restricted as to where they can go outside the home, can not participate in groups together with men, and must wear the burka. I am staying at an Intercontinental and have not yet had any local food.
However, I expect it to be a lot like Lebanese food and good.
I will try to call you all again when I return home.
It brought back a flood of memories…
Growing up, my dad travelled the world a few months each year… and I got postcards and calls from far-away places such as Uzbeckistan, Uganda and Bhutan.
He’d bring home gifts of wooden giraffes from Kenya, Nepalese happy coats and gemstones from Sri Lanka…
I used to want the cabbage patch kids and gifts my peers got instead of the bizarre “uncool” gifts my dad brought home.
But now I realize that growing up among the giant African masks, ebony sculptures and wall-sized Balinese murals left a deep imprint on my sensibility… an imprint that prepared me to become the message and brand expert that I am today.
Every night I’d climb up the green carpeted stairs to my bedroom and at the top of the staircase was a bizarre pointillist painting of tribal figures in full ritual gear. My brother and I broke all 4 legs off the iron Thai lions my dad placed on top of our speakers.
So this morning, when I got my dad’s email, I had to smile back on those decades of missives from the road.
As challenging as it was to have a father who travelled much of the year, a father who often felt inaccessible to me, I wouldn’t replace my upbringing for a more traditional childhood that had him home with me as I grew up… because it’s these experiences that made me who I am.
When reflecting on all of these experiences, it never ceases to amaze me just how much they have conspired to put me on my path, and prepared me for the life I live today.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
Especially the experiences I resist. The experiences that caused pain and embarrassment.
This is what my friend Jeffrey VanDyck calls your “Life PhD.”
The truth is that you are uniquely qualified to lead your business. While there are hundreds or even thousands of other entrepreneurs who may do what you do, your story and life experience powerfully and uniquely differentiates you — even in the most crowded market.
In my business storytelling program Hidden Story Power, I teach my students to create a timeline of their life. A Facebook-like timeline of all important moments, small or big. All of the moments that have contributed to making you who you are today and preparing you for your big work in the world.
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to find, embrace, and tell your story. You hold the keys to something truly unique and all you need to do is read the clues. There’s a huge amount of peace and clarity that happens as you realize how powerful your unique experiences were in laying the road to your future. It like the clouds part and your entire life suddenly makes sense… your life is truly fascinating and your tribe is waiting for you to share it.
So tell me, how did your upbringing make you the person you are today? What clues does your past have for your future?