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“If we think we have no stories it is because we have not paid enough attention to our lives. Most of us live lives that are far richer and more meaningful than we appreciate.”
—Dr. Rachel Remen

UncoveringYourStory“None of you know this, but I spent nine years in a federal penitentiary for using and distributing drugs.”

A gentleman shared this in one of my recent leadership sessions. We were discussing the value of owning our story, embracing it, and courageously sharing it with others. He revealed this to a group of fellow business owners he’d been meeting with each month for several years.

The gentleman went on to talk briefly about his difficult upbringing, challenges in school, the mistakes he’d made, (with nine years to reflect on it) his total transformation from the boy he was into the man he is, and a commitment made to encourage others to make the most of their lives. Hearing his story brought many of his colleagues to tears. It also shed light on why he leads, serves and impacts in the manner that he does. It is because of his past — not in spite of it.

My friends, the same story (well, maybe not the part about being in jail!) exists within each of us. Sometimes we just get so close to something that we can’t see the value in it.

Six years ago my parents decided to write “my” story. It was the story of their nine-year-old son’s devastating fire, recovery from it, and our family’s journey since. When they wrote it, I had not shared the story of my life-changing experience with anyone; it was just something that happened to me and was not relevant to others. Or so I thought!

The response that my parents’ book Overwhelming Odds received was stunning. They initially printed 200 copies; they subsequently sold more than 50,000. This experience showed me the power of story, the gift of hope, the need to embrace scars, and the necessity to share our journey with others.

Over the last six years, the most gratifying part of sharing my story with audiences has been hearing the countless stories of the individuals I meet along the way. These stories come from all parts of the world, age groups, and walks of life; they encompass challenge, tragedy, joy, and personal growth; and they celebrate the lessons learned, friends discovered, faith deepened, redemption realized, and steps taken towards a bigger, better tomorrow.

Today’s Challenge: My friends, we all have stories that are worth sharing. Remember, “If you think you have no story it is because you have not paid enough attention to your life.” Owning and celebrating your story will bring new perspectives and insights to those who hear it, and will allow you to begin living even more fully. So take a moment to reflect on your story, note the lessons you’ve learned, and actually write it down.

Then, take a step that will inspire both of us: share your story with me! We learn from one another, and I would be grateful to grow from your experience. I invite you to email me personally at (john@risingabove.com) your story.
So excited to hear from you, grow together, and celebrate the truth that the best is yet to come!

John O’Leary


P.S. Sharing our stories helps us live more fully. Forward this email to your friends and family so they can share their stories and live more fully too! Or, if you prefer sharing on Facebook – include @RisingAbove in your post, I’d love to see what your friends have to say!

Gratitude & Free THI Program!

Thanks to everyone who completed our survey last week to give us feedback on our newsletter! We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of responses and opinions, and appreciate your time. As promised, five lucky winners were randomly selected to be enrolled at no cost into the Tom Hill Institute. Congratulation to Donna Foltman, Louis Holmes, Claudette Johnson, Jamie O’Brien and Marty Unterreiner, look for an email with your enrollment information next week.

If you didn’t win, but want to enroll or learn more about THI, please visit www.tomhillinstitute.com.

Rescheduling Wm Paul Young

The international best-selling author of The Shack and Cross Roads Wm. Paul Young just returned from New Zealand. As wonderful as his trip was, he returned so ill to the United States that we are postponing his speaking event. We will be rescheduling this and look forward to sharing that information with you. If you have interest in a personal invitation or to learn more about the event, please email Molly@RisingAbove.com

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