This business of talking about yourself is hard work.
I mean, sure, for some wildly fascinating folks out there, it's a cakewalk to spill the beans about your accomplishments and all your special attributes. But for the rest of the world, those of us who cling to that rock I like to call introverted humility, zeroing in on our unique message is just simply exhausting.
And I have been for a long, long time.
My earliest recollection goes back to elementary school when two friends and I thought it would be a great idea to write on the back of a bus seat. No, we weren't deviants. We were just fascinated by the smell of fresh, new leather contrasted with diesel and metal, and like the first moon walkers or two lovers in a pristine woods, we wanted to leave our mark before anyone else beat us to it.
So, from our backpacks, we pulled out our blue ink pens and began to scrawl the virgin sentence on the back of that leather-green seat: "Marvin wuz here." Our eyes locked in solidarity, we knew we hadn't exposed ourselves. Surely none of the other 40 kids surrounding us had seen us scrawling out our rebelliousness. Like a rite of passage, we understood we had somehow morphed from 4th-grade innocence into 5th-grade wisdom. Fist bump. Head nod. Off the bus and home for a good night's sleep.
Until the next day, when the principal called us into his office. We sat there, fear dripping from our faces, and with unhindered small-town savvy, he asked us to take out a pen and paper. "We're going to have a spelling test," he told us. "Just write the words like you would spell them to a friend, no big deal."
My friends, Sarah and Jolene (they were clearly out to impress) followed his instructions to the letter. And when he got to the word "was," they scrawled those three letters out with the same precision still highly evident on the back of a seat on Bus #42--WUZ.
We all turned our papers in, and they got detentions while I was off--scot-free.
"How did you escape this?" they asked me, righteous indignation completely justified.
"Simple," I said. "I spelled 'wuz' with the correct letters--WAS."
It was a deer in headlights moment for them, and for me, it was a watershed moment. Language was everything, and I apparently knew how to use it for my benefit.
It would be decades before I ever told my parents that story--so clearly shame found its way into my heart, but even as I look back on that event all these years later, I understand that it's a lesson on storytelling.
So whether we need to scrawl your message on a bus seat or learn the exact phrases your target audience is looking for, let's put our heads together and do it all in a way that makes everyone else ask, "How in the heck did you do that?"