Wow stories and Oww stories

“Wow!” stories impress.

“Oww!” stories impact.

A John Maxwell quote reminds me of this “If you want to impress people, tell them about your successes. If you want to impact people, tell them about your mistakes.…”

It takes courage and self-awareness to be able to distill a story out of pain and difficulty (especially if it is your own). What other story can you tell with honesty other than a lived experience? To squeeze the tears out and then find ways to see them glitter and glisten and shine, so that others can see through your eyes is the power of an “Oww story”.

What can grow from that story of pain? What will emerge from there if it is allowed to emerge? When I look back, I can often connect the dots. But in the moment, I often can only see darkness. Knowing that a ray of light will emerge gives me strength. I can navigate the darkness secure in the knowledge that the light will come. This belief changes the way I can be in dark periods.

If this is true, I wonder why is it that most organisations only focus on telling the wow stories. They dazzle and impress for sure but they don’t always leave a lasting impression. The only Oww stories that stand out are of those companies that have navigated their way through crises with integrity. They have done the right thing; the difficult thing and they have emerged stronger on the other side. These stories are told not by choice but out of circumstance.

I feel there is an opportunity to tell small trauma stories not just the big ones. For instance, years ago a colleague of mine called saying they had a minor accident on their way to work (heading for an important pitch) that I was also going for. I was so focused on solving the problem of who would present their part and how would we get the copy of the final version of ppt that this person was carrying that I failed to ask the more important questions related to the safety and well-being of all involved in the accident and offer any help that may have been needed.

Not a proud moment for sure but one that has stayed with me and that I have learnt from. The whirlwind of work and the pressure to perform should never come in the way of caring for each other as people first, that is the hallmark of true professionalism. Spare a minute or two to reflect on what Oww stories you have experienced, those painful moments that have taught you a valuable life lesson. Then consider paying it forward by sharing the story so others can learn from it.

In a world captivated by “just looking like a Wow” moments maybe it’s time to also have some “just feeling like an Oww” ones as well. Share an Oww story today and let it create a ripple in the world.

It is fitting that this idea comes knocking on my door as I notch up column number 208 for Reputation Today. In these four years of writing, it has become a weekly ritual, where I sit and reflect on the question “What did you learn this week?”… there were some Wow moments and quite a few Oww ones as well. A lovely tapestry for me to look back and learn from, that are captured in #LeftBrainRightBrain” for myself and anyone else who may find their way to my thoughts and words.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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