I sat there on that long boardroom table surrounded by radio people being grilled by questions of what my company was all about. We were there to develop a campaign. I never felt so inadequate in my life.

At the time, I had recently been asked to take on the role of general manager for three very different companies. Earlier on this particular day, I had spent the whole morning wrapped up in one company and suddenly, there I was in the midst of this group getting grilled about a different company. It was dizzying.

I recall sitting there at that table feeling like the spotlight was completely on me and yet… inside, all I wanted to do was run. I felt so overwhelmed, unprepared, and inadequate for what I was asked to do with running these companies.

As the questions kept coming from every side, I remember bowing my head for a few moments. I could hear the questions coming, but, for a moment, I felt like I had slipped away.

“Dear God, I have no idea what I am doing. I feel so inadequate. I don’t belong here. I don’t know how to answer these questions. I need your help. I give up.”

It was a moment where I was in the room, but not in the room. It was a silent call for help to the only One I knew could hear me right then and there.

And yet the questions kept coming…

“What is your core demographic?” came from one end of the table. While from the opposite end came… “Why should people shop with you?”

And yet, there I was, momentarily checked out from the constant questions saying a silent prayer… a plead for help.

“Tell them stories.”

I remember that moment like it was this very second. As I have said before, it was like a thousand arrows had simultaneously hit their mark. Something changed, there was a pivot… my countenance was suddenly different as I remember looking up and around at the many faces gathered at the table.

3 words… tell them stories. And so I did.

Suddenly, I felt like a different person. I felt emboldened as I began to tell the countless stories of the many people I had come across while working on the sales floor. It was really quite surreal as the stories seemed to flow out from me as if I had rehearsed them before the meeting.

At one point, I could sense that those gathered around the table were on the edge of their seat and moved at what they were hearing. I remember seeing a few even begin to tear up as I was rattling off several experiences.

It was one of those moments to remember. I wonder if they had sensed it too?

“That’s it.” were two words that came confidently from one end of the table. “Just tell the story. That’s the campaign.”

And so we did. A few weeks later, I went back into that office, but this time, to enter the studio. Unscripted, we flipped the record switch and began telling stories.

But what happened on that one day? Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed with seeking the perspectives we think we need, when all along, its much simpler than that. The perspectives we thought we needed were merely based on the same old stuff. This is what we always do, so… let’s do it again. In other words, these are the building blocks and formulas for building a successful campaign. But, don’t you think that somewhere along the way, we lost sight of what a true campaign should look like?

I learned how to tell a story in first grade. Miss Britt had us all take turns reading from picture books in front of the class as they all sat on the floor in front of you.

Thirty years later, I learned how to surrender my anxieties in a board room as a still small voice spoke three words… “Tell them stories.”

In the process, a campaign was born and to this day, was the only campaign I ever remember people talking about.

But, to tell a story… you need a story. And, when you feel alone, know this… you are not alone.

There is power in those three words. So, live life to be a storyteller. We all have a story. Is anybody listening?

Yep! In a still small voice, He said… “Tell them stories.”

Three words and a cry for help.

And here I was thinking I was inadequate. I was trying to respond to the questions in a way I thought I was supposed to. I was never so wrong. God heard me that day and showed me that I did belong there and that I was the very opposite of inadequate. I just needed to be me. I just needed to be… a storyteller.

I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t asked for help? Two words… train wreck.

I wonder what would happen if I lived life with my eyes and heart wide open to those around me?

3 words. So… tell me.

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3 responses »

  1. Donna Hougland says:

    I read maybe 2 blogs per week all the way through. This is an inspiration to me, because last week I was in a room full of suits thinking “I don’t belong here”. And sure enough, when it came my turn to pitch, I actually called myself “dumb”. Even though I learned that I was the only person in the room to invent, design, and package something on my own, I felt weak, and ended up crying alone in the elevator afterward. I have been trying so hard to do everything myself, that I have become my own worst enemy. I need to give all or part of this over to the universe…but it is so difficult!

    • gunsim says:

      thanks for taking a moment to comment. hang in there, you are not alone and maybe, just maybe… for such a time as this, you have been “wired” to be just where you are. for me to be able to sit at that table and essentially surrender also took surrounding myself with a lot of good people. people that elevated me. when I say elevate, I don’t mean puff me up, but elevate me in a way that gives me a sound confidence in my abilities. typically, these people were a little older and wiser. they also didn’t always tell me the things I wanted to hear. but… it sure helped mold me. being one who throughout life lacked real confidence in myself, I too, found it hard to surrender and then surround myself with others. in this, life is truly a three-legged race, i don’t be it was meant to live alone. the fact is, we all need help. i used to carry such a huge load in seeking to do everything by myself. I couldn’t take it any longer as for me… it constantly took me to a place of “paralysis by analysis” in that I just wrapped myself in my own web of over analysis.

      personally, in this, I found the core of my belief system. but, to get there, often times… it takes a real journey. but, when you get there, it is so liberating for the weight we are all carrying was not meant to be placed on these weak backs of ours. to be honest and real candid with you, Donna… for me, I found this in Jesus. and when I truly did… it changed everything. not that I don’t have my struggles, because I do. not that people or the church may let me down, or I may let myself down from time to time. but, for me… I found what really matters.

      thanks so much for reading my blog. it really does blow me away that someone would take the time to not only do so, but also comment. please let me know if I can ever help in any way. I am also on facebook. my username is gunnar simonsen

      G!

  2. Donna says:

    I find it interesting that everyone in my life who has ever talked about Jesus has also been a hypocrite when it comes down to putting action behind their words. This is not a statement on Jesus, but a statement on a mindset that allows the owner to do almost anything they want, and then be “forgiven”. I’m not talking about murder. I’m talking about what your word means; living by the words you speak.

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