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Changing your personal narrative – definitions

January 16, 2017

I said I’d start writing about what is involved in changing your personal narrative. I want to begin by defining some terms. Truth be told, I have never, when working with my clients in my office or over the phone, defined as many terms as I could at the start of the coach-client relationship. There are a few reasons for that.

  • Time is limited. Part of the client-coach relationship the contracted understanding that each session, depending on its type (my office, over the phone, in a coffee shop, etc) will last no longer than a certain amount of time. My clients’ time is valuable. So is mine. My goal, then, is to pack as much valuable information related to that client’s specific needs as possible. Terms then, tend to get defined as they occur.
  • Typically, the client and I have already talked about what it is he or she wants to address/have addressed during the course of our working together. I try to avoid bringing in extraneous concepts. Bringing in “stuff” that doesn’t relate in the mind of my client is a temptation for me because on the MBTI I’m an INTP, so I tend to see everything as related to everything else. I deal with that temptation by being pretty rigid with myself (clearly, I’m not doing that here).
  • My clients tend to be people who are already enjoying some degree of success in their lives. They are doers. They want actionable information, not a laundry list of defined terms.

Here, things are a little different. I’m proceeding on the belief that if you’re reading this, you have a few extra minutes. More than that, I want to give you time for the terms and the concepts to which they relate to sort of marinate until the next article. I don’t know if this will be more effective than the way I do this with clients. I don’t know if it will be less effective or if it will make any difference at all. It’s a new approach for me.


  • Action: What you do to achieve results.
  • Attitude: How you feel about, well, everything, including yourself, other people, life, money, happiness, success, society, religion and a myriad of other things.
  • Core values: The ideas/beliefs/principles you hold most dear. These are the ones central or fundamental to who you are as a person. Typically, there are 3-5 of these. These are considered non-negotiable. It’s important to note they are the ones you actually hold most dear and not necessarily the ones you think or have been told you should hold most dear.

  • Lifestyle: How you live as the end product of your results. Only you get to define this.
  • Mission or purpose: What you are all about as a person.
  • Motivation: The thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. Why you do what you do.
  • Narrative: This is your story. It encompasses all you are as a person. What you believe, what matters to you, how you see yourself and your purpose or mission, what you do, where you hope to go and what you hope to achieve are all part of your narrative.
  • Philosophy: This is everything you know and how you choose to let it affect you. To put it another way, it is what you know and how you act based upon what you know.
  • Results: The immediate and proportional product of your actions.
  • “The Law of Attraction”: A marketing money-maker. It envisions the universe as responding in some way to “the frequency of your thoughts.” Frequently making obscure references to quantum mechanics/physics, I’ve yet to meet the Law of Attraction guru who could intelligently discuss the math of quantum mechanics. See my definition of “The Secret.”
  • “The Secret”: A myth. I called it “crap” in my first article in this series. I haven’t changed my mind.*
  • Time management: Another myth, but not a deliberately deceptive one. Neither you nor I are capable of managing time. We can only manage ourselves and the way we use our time.
  • Values: The ideas/beliefs/principles that are important to you. These are the ones that are actually important to you. They may or may not be the same as what you think or have been told ought to be important to you.
  • Vision: Where you see yourself and your life in the future.

That’s enough for today. You may define these terms differently and that’s okay. For my purposes, these are the definitions I use.

*NOTE: If you are an afficianado of “The Law of Attraction” and/or “The Secret,” please understand it is not my intent to insult you or your beliefs. It’s simply that “The Secret” lacks any significant historical support for the claims made about it. To wit, there is no evidence that for hundreds or even thousands of years those who have achieved some degree of success, however you define it, have understood and kept from the masses the way that might be done. As regards the related “Law of Attraction,” no one, to my knowledge, has produced credible evidence that the universe will somehow respond to your thoughts, effectively warping reality to produce your desired results. There are far easier, more reasonable explanations that require nothing in the way of mental gymnastics. They aren’t sexy, but they work.

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