Writing your life story doesn’t have to be dull drudgery – something you have to force yourself to do. I think many people are intimidated by the sheer volume of what they want to write about and are also harboring inner doubts about their qualifications and abilities to write their legacy.Read More
First, let me define personal history. Whereas the term “family history” is almost universally synonymous with genealogy, personal history (also known as life story) is, well, more personal. In a nutshell, it documents your own life experiences and beliefs rather than those of your ancestors. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways: books, letters, journals, scrapbooks, video, blogs, audio recordings, or any combination of these methods.
I’m a bibliophile, so I focus on the written forms of personal history. So much can be learned from others, and written materials enable that wisdom to be preserved and provide readers with a glimpse of the authors’ personalities. When people write correspondence, you can almost hear their voice dictating what you’re reading. In journals, people often write about what’s most important to them at that point in time. If they’re farmers, the weather might be cited often because it’s vital to their crops or if they’re parents, entries might consist of children’s antics. Decades later, these reflections might seem insignificant to a casual observer, but to a descendent, it’s a literal piece of his or her past.
Consider how powerful it would be to read a book that was written by your grandfather; one in which he reflected on all of his most impressive memories – both celebrations and heartaches – and discussed what he learned from them and how they helped shape his beliefs. What a family treasure that would be!
That is exactly what you can provide to your descendents through your own personal history.
Of course, it’s not just descendents who can benefit from your life story; it can become a valuable research document for your local area as well. You don’t live your life in a bubble; you interact with others and live in a community. Your reflections can therefore serve as an important representation of what life was like in your area during a particular time period. Future historians will be grateful for your insightful commentary.
Writing a life story isn’t difficult, but it does require time, organization, and techniques to ensure accuracy, readability, and overall quality. You can write it yourself or you can hire a professional, but the key is to begin now. Although stories live forever, the opportunity to document them is limited.
Have you already started your life story? Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going!
Recognizing and utilizing a company’s history is often a key factor in its long-term success. I was reminded of this recently during my children’s 4-H meeting at our local Chick-fil-A restaurant. As you may be aware, this fast-food chain does a great job making its history known to the public (and they highly encourage customers to share their own stories).
Following our brief meeting, the 4-Hers were invited to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen and service areas. Throughout the tour we learned all kinds of interesting facts, including how the company has creatively solved problems to achieve its current success. The end result of the tour? The kids were thrilled with the free ice-cream cone, and it solidified in the adults’ minds that it is a place worthy of our repeat patronage.
Now, this is not to say that you have to offer tours of your facilities to net increased customer loyalty. What it is suggesting, however, is that telling your company’s history is important. Consider the additional areas within your company that benefit from a company history:
- Empowers Leadership – When problems arise, it’s sometimes difficult to know which direction to take. By reviewing how your company overcame challenges in the past – what core values and techniques they employed – you can often duplicate or modify those ideas to successfully solve the current situation.
- Promotes Company Culture – What better way to unify your employees than by showcasing that they are part of something bigger than themselves? Demonstrate how their employment has helped to make a difference in the world on a local, national and/or global scale. It also offers them a vision of where the company is going.
- Encourages Partnerships – Making your company history available to others promotes transparency and fosters key business partnerships. By honoring your company’s past, it shows your commitment to its future.
- Improves Public Relations – Companies are always looking for positive publicity. The release of a company history can help garner new clients, increase loyalty, and make you the talk of the town (or Facebook or Twitter… you get the idea).
Whether you create a full-color hardcopy book or eBook and/or incorporate a timeline onto your public website, company histories are a fantastic way to achieve brand definition, increase visibility, and celebrate successes (particularly milestone anniversaries).
Has your company or organization ever promoted its history? Do you have additional ideas about this concept? Please share them in the comments section.
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Dalene Bickel is an author, book coach and speaker who helps aspiring authors successfully write, develop and self-publish their books.
What My Clients Say:
I want to thank you for the smooth process you provided in the publishing of my father’s memoirs. Your patience and prompt responses with my questions were invaluable. Having had no experience, I felt I could trust and rely on your expertise, and we were thrilled with the final product!