At 19, I left college, sort of a mess. After a devastating crash in a downhill ski race a couple years earlier, I had finally given up my dreams of making the U.S. Ski Team—I had made the development team, but that was not my ultimate goal. Ski racing was my identity, my story, for close to a decade. Without it, my confidence was circling the drain; my brain bashing between over exercising and complete destruction.

I needed to leave, crack open my future to more than dark classrooms (I was an art history major, snore, I know!), barking professors, and teenagers drowning themselves in alcohol. So, I filled a backpack with layers and a sleeping bag and bought a one-way ticket to Nepal—by myself. Nobody, not even my past, could find me there. Right? Mmmmm, not really.

What I found while traveling was that every time I met someone new (every 7 seconds while traveling solo as a teenager), I had the chance to be someone different, to make up a story, or refine the real ones of my past. I could decide to share the stories that would paint me as someone mysterious or obvious; someone damaged or wholeheartedly optimistic.

But each time, I came back to the stories that were real, that shared an obstacle I had overcome, a moment that defined the next step in my crooked journey.

As my friend and social worker, Rebecca, always says, “you follow yourself everywhere.” True! So, you better make some damn good stories to nestle into because they’re yours…for life.

Over the several months I crisscrossed Nepal, and eventually Thailand, I refined my stories to only the best ones, the ones that elicited a reaction, and I found my footing. My stories began to define me, began to give me strength and pride because I knew them and I knew how they’d persuade others to think of me.

How does this relate to you? Often times a lack of confidence, like I had, comes from a lack of certainty. And as Brendon Burchard says, “a lack of certainty can come from a lack of clarity in how you want to serve.” If you know how you want to serve, then you can reverse engineer the stories that can bolster that mission.

“A lack of certainty can come from a lack of clarity in how you want to serve.”

Brendon Burchard

Which leads me to today’s lesson: How to use storytelling to reveal your own self confidence. And, in turn, how a strong story allows your audience to find trust and confidence in your brand. If your audience can witness your own personal transformation from none to some, you’ll be able to show off your confidence in such a way that will get your people to trust you. Here are 5 steps to build confidence in your personal story.

5 Steps To Building Confidence In Your Personal Story

Step 1 | Track your stories

Make a list of all of your unique defining moments (or UDM’s, as I like to call them), times of massive transition, upheaval, learnings, lessons, or challenges. Keep track of them somewhere (Google doc, notes on your phone, etc). Add to this list, and revisit it often. Then scrap the ones that are less interesting against the poignant ones.

Step 2 | Divulge your process

By sharing your process, and your progress, you’ll find that others have been there too. The more everyday the challenges, the more people will relate and offer support and trust. Why? Because people want to know how you got from point A to point B, and they want to be able to see themselves in you. So, track that movement and that transformation as you think of what stories to share, whether you have an audience or not.

Step 3 | Invest in the payoff

Ask yourself if the lesson, the transformation, or the payoff that you experienced reveals a level of understanding or confidence that you have in your craft, your trade, your work or your product? If not, how could you manipulate the story, or reveal more of its nuts and bolts, so that people can see themselves in your story to then receive the same payoff as you? In other words, if you had an ah-ha moment that brought you to where you are today, does it reveal why you started the personal brand, or company that you currently have?

Step 4 | Phase out the story

Write down the phases of your story so that you can make sure your audience can follow your process. Keep it simple, don’t use flowery language or overly complicated metaphors (simple parables will do). If your audience can mirror that emotion in themselves, they’ll better understand the confidence you gained, and thus trust you with their time, effort, or money.

Step 5 | Share your story

Sharing your story can be intimidating, and takes practice and courage to do it in such a way that it bolsters your confidence. Once you’ve discovered your unique defining moments in Step 1, decide which pieces of those showcase your confidence in your craft. Then share those stories on social, in blogs, and in front of your team each week. The more you share your story, the more people will connect with you, trust you, and support your mission.