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The Art of  Mapping Your Story


Linda Belans, EdD.



The Story Of Self 

"In a role of public leadership, we really don’t have a choice about telling our story of self."

     Marshall Ganz, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard University

Leaders who are engaged in the urgent work of education have an obligation to know how to tell their story – to students, families, to teachers, staff, the community, to funders. How does your story connect to their lives ? We want to know who you are, what drives you, why you do this challenging work. We want to feel inspired. To feel hopeful. We want to feel your impatience or anger with a system that allows our students to fail and how you turn that into hope, vision, and a plan.


                                                                  Be fearless      Dig deep 

MAPPING your story

  • M is for Moment: Take us to a moment that holds your Truth and defines you: an aspiration you have achieved, a challenge you have worked through. Tell a particular story because the specific is universal and tells the story of Us. Be succinct.

  • A is for Audience: Know your audience so you can connect with them. Ask yourself: Why am I telling this particular story at this particular time? What do they already know? What new information do I bring to them? What do I want them to walk away chewing on, repeating or acting on?

  • P is for Prepare and Practice: Prepare as though you are answering questions you wish someone would ask you. Weave stories and data – statistical, anecdotal and observational data. Identify questions that you hope no one will ask because someone surely will.

        Practice telling your story but don’t memorize it. Ask for specific feedback: Do I seem

        authentic? Do I make clear points? Do I inspire you to act?

  • P is for Present tense an Powerpoint: To bring you and your audience closer to a specific moment, consider telling that part in the present tense.

      PowerPoint can reduce your multi-dimensional self-portrait into a paint-by- 

         numbers canvas. You are the storyteller. You have the power. You are what moves

         people to action. 


  • I is for Integrate and Inspire: Integrate your head and your heart to inspire the audience to feel and to act.

  • N is for Narrative: Create your narrative anchored in a memorable phrase that becomes the musical motif for the score you are creating (I have a dream… Yes we can… I do this work because…This work matters because...This is what schools are for...).

  • G is for Generosity: Embody a deep sense of generosity toward your audience and hold a bigger vision of them than they may have of themselves.


                       Author, States of Being: Leadership Coaching for Equitable Schools

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