Everywhere we look, there’s a story happening. These stories come together to form a narrative – which in turn shapes our lives. In most cases, this is happening subconsciously – leaving us as passive characters in a story that’s been written without our blessing – turning us into followers. So how can we use narrative to empower our leadership?
Gezim Gashi is a purpose-driven entrepreneur who carries his story well – allowing the perspective of his life experience to positively inform his mindset. As a keynote speaker, music producer, entertainment mogul, Partner of Oaks Christian School’s Institute of Art and Innovation, and a best selling author, Gashi is generous with the wisdom that has helped create a bridge for the younger generation to take back control of their narrative – becoming leaders themselves.
Gashi is currently on tour to promote his #1 Amazon bestselling book, Unlocked: The Power of You, including a highly anticipated spot on NBC as this goes to press.
“You have to write your own story – and claim it,” Gashi says. When we hone in on our storytelling skills, we are able to inject positivity into our thought process and mindset.
Here’s an example:
“If you’re anxious,” Gashi says, “it’s important to not say I am anxious, but to say I feel anxious.” The former feeds a negative narrative that’s attached to our identity, whereas the latter tells us that we are simply experiencing something temporary that will pass as we continue the story.
For Gashi, controlling your narrative means looking at your past and future with intentionality and clarity.
We’ll start by looking at the past. Gashi’s story up until today is as inspiring as it is harrowing. He was born in Pristina, Kosovo, mere days before a Serbian Military invasion in the wake of a declaration of independence from the parliament of Kosovo. The result would be a horrifying genocide that claimed the lives of over 8,000 Kosovo-Albanians.
Gashi’s story could have become a short tragedy. Serbian troops took control of the hospital with genocidal intent – as he and his mother were still recovering from his birth.
“My mom,” Gashi says, “tossed me out of the second floor window.” The three-day-old baby fell into the arms of his brother. Gashi – and the rest of his family – was able to escape, later immigrating to Sweden.
Gashi’s mom told him this amazing story when he was ten. He may have been too young to recall it for himself, but this primary experience is fundamental to Gashi’s inner narrative.
“My mother’s storytelling shaped the narrative for me,” Gashi says. He’s claimed it, and turns to it as a testament to fearlessness and resilience whenever life gets rough. If your story begins with an active war turned genocide – what have you to fear after you overcome such tragedy? If you survived a two-storey fall a few days out of the womb – why would you ever need to question your resilience?
It’s no wonder that Gashi is such an optimist. The refugee turned mogul’s well-deserved success hasn’t been the product of who he knows, but rather on how you know people.
While few have a story as extreme as Gashi’s – we all have elements in our experience we can use to fuel a positive mindset. Unlocked: The Power of You is a self-help reflection that will help you learn from Gashi’s story and apply optimism to your own.
“My stories have brought me hope and gave me a purpose,” Gashi says. “The way we speak about ourselves – the way we think about ourselves – is indicative of the people that we’re going to be.
So who are we going to be? Now that we’ve talked about the past, let’s look with excitement to the future – the next chapter of our personal narratives.
As Gashi continues his latest book tour – the keynote speaker, educator, and writer knows that his future is his to write. Literary enthusiasts will tell you that comedies are differentiated from tragedies from the onset of a story – the same is true of our own narratives. For Gashi, the key ingredient your narrative needs is purpose. “When you’re purpose driven,” he says, “that’s usually when you find the biggest success – because you love your work.”
What’s a story without a purpose – what’s a leader without a story?