Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Area E6 Contest

We had an amazing Area Contest Tuesday. Our contestants gave us all Inspirational and entertaining speeches. Congratulations Nandini and Glen, you both gave wonderful speeches and made us proud placing in the International and Humorous Speech Contests. Thanks everyone for supporting us. 

International Speech Contest
  1. Geetha   - Transformers
  2. Shaona   - Spoken Word
  3. Nandini   - Igniters

Humorous Speech Contest

  1. Lucas  - Spoken Word
  2. Glen    - Igniters
  3. Val      - Transformers

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"The Life Story Interview" guide used in reasearch for the book: "The Art and Science of Personality Development", by Dan P. McAdams

I've enjoyed the book "The Art and Science of Personality Development" so much that I have read it every year for the past three years.

If you are interested in adding depth to your personal story I recommend it.

Drawing on state-of-the-art personality and developmental research, this book presents a new and broadly integrative theory of how people come to be who they are over the life course. Preeminent researcher Dan P. McAdams traces the development of three distinct layers of personality--the social actor who expresses emotional and behavioral traits, the motivated agent who pursues goals and values, and the autobiographical author who constructs a personal story. Highly readable and accessible to scholars and students at all levels, the book uses rich portraits of the lives of famous people to illustrate theoretical concepts and empirical findings.

While researching Dan P. McAdams I came across "The Life Story Interview" guide for researching how people think about and tell the story of their lives. I used this guide to help me write my own life story.  Enjoy:

(Apologies for the formatting)

The Life Story Interview

Dan P. McAdams, Northwestern University

Revised 1995

Introductory Comments

This is an interview about the story of your life. We are asking you to play the role of storyteller about your own life -- to construct for us the story of your own past, present, and what you see as your own future.

People's lives vary tremendously, and people make sense of their own lives in a tremendous variety of ways. As social scientists, our goal is to collect as many different life stories as we can in order to begin the process of making sense of how people make sense of their own lives. Therefore, we are collecting and analyzing life stories of "normal" adults from all walks of life, and we are looking for significant commonalities and significant differences in those life stories that people tell us.

In telling us a story about your own life, you do not need to tell us everything that has ever happened to you. A story is selective. It may focus on a few key events, a few key relationships, a few key themes which recur in the narrative. In telling your own life story, you should concentrate on material in your own life that you believe to be important in some fundamental way -- information about yourself and your life which says something significant about you and how you have come to be who you are. Your story should tell how you are similar to other people as well as how you are unique. Our purpose in these interviews is to catalogue people's life stories so that we may eventually arrive at some fundamental principles of life-storytelling as well as ways of categorizing and making sense of life stories constructed by healthy adults living at this time in history and in this place. We are not interested, therefore, in pathology, abnormal psychology, neurosis and psychosis. We are not trying to figure out what is wrong with you. Nor are we trying to help you figure out what is wrong with you. The interview should not be seen as a "therapy session." This interview is for research purposes only, and its sole purpose is the collection of data concerning people's life stories.

The interview is divided into a number of sections. In order to complete the interview within, say, an hour

and a half or so, it is important that we not get bogged down in the early sections, especially the first one in which I

will ask you to provide an overall outline of your story. The interview starts with general things and moves to the

particular. Therefore, do not feel compelled to provide a lot of detail in the first section in which I ask for this

outline. The detail will come later. I will guide you through the interview so that we can finish it in good time. I

think that you will enjoy the interview. Most people do.


I. Life Chapters

We would like you to begin by thinking about your life as a story. All stories have characters, scenes,

plots, and so forth. There are high points and low points in the story, good times and bad times, heroes and villains,

and so on. A long story may even have chapters. Think about your life story as having at least a few different

chapters. What might those chapters be? I would like you to describe for me each of the main chapters of your life

story. You may have as many or as few chapters as you like, but I would suggest dividing your story into at least 2

or 3 chapters and at most about 7. If you can, give each chapter a name and describe briefly the overall contents in

each chapter. As a storyteller here, think of yourself as giving a plot summary for each chapter. This first part of

the interview can expand forever, so I would like you to keep it relatively brief, say, within 20-25 minutes.

Therefore, you don't want to tell me "the whole story" now. Just give me a sense of the story's outline -- the major

chapters in your life.

[The interviewer may wish to ask for clarifications and elaborations at any point in this section, though

there is a significant danger of interrupting too much. If the subject finishes in under 10 minutes, then he/she has not

said enough, and the interviewer should probe for more detail. If the subject looks as if he/she is going to continue beyond half an hour, then the interviewer should try (gently) to speed things along somewhat. Yet, you don't want the subject to feel "rushed." (It is inevitable, therefore, that some subjects will run on too long.) This is the most

open-ended part of the interview. It has the most projective potential. Thus, we are quite interested in how the

subject organizes the response on his or her own. Be careful not to organize it for the subject.]

II. Critical Events

Now that you have given us an outline of the chapters in your story, we would like you to concentrate on a

few key events that may stand out in bold print in the story. A key event should be a specific happening, a critical

incident, a significant episode in your past set in a particular time and place. It is helpful to think of such an event as

constituting a specific moment in your life story which stands out for some reason. Thus, a particular conversation

you may have had with your mother when you were 12-years-old or a particular decision you made one afternoon

last summer might qualify as a key event in your life story. These are particular moments set in a particular time

and place, complete with particular characters, actions, thoughts, and feelings. An entire summer vacation -- be it

very happy or very sad or very important in some way -- or a very difficult year in high school, on the other hand,

would not qualify as key events because these take place over an extended period of time. (They are more like life


I am going to ask you about 8 specific life events. For each event, describe in detail what happened, where

you were, who was involved, what you did, and what you were thinking and feeling in the event. Also, try to

convey what impact this key event has had in your life story and what this event says about who you are or were as a

person. Please be very specific here.


Event #1: Peak Experience

A peak experience would be a high point in your life story -- perhaps the high point. It would be a moment

or episode in the story in which you experienced extremely positive emotions, like joy, excitement, great happiness,

uplifiting, or even deep inner peace. Today, the episode would stand out in your memory as one of the best, highest,

most wonderful scenes or moments in your life story. Please describe in some detail a peak experience, or

something like it, that you have experienced some time in your past. Tell me exactly what happened, where it

happened, who was involved, what you did, what you were thinking and feeling, what impact this experience may

have had upon you, and what this experience says about who you were or who you are. [Interviewer should make

sure that the subject addresses all of these questions, especially ones about impact and what the experience says

about the person. Do not interrupt the description of the event. Rather ask for extra detail, if necessary, after the

subject has finished initial description of the event.]

Event #2: Nadir Experience

A "nadir" is a low point. A nadir experience, therefore, is the opposite of a peak experience. It is a low

point in your life story. Thinking back over your life, try to remember a specific experience in which you felt

extremely negative emotions, such as despair, disillusionment, terror, guilt, etc. You should consider this experience

to represent one of the "low points" in your life story. Even though this memory is unpleasant, I would still

appreciate an attempt on your part to be as honest and detailed as you can be. Please remember to be specific. What

happened? When? Who was involved? What did you do? What were you thinking and feeling? What impact has

the event had on you? What does the event say about who you are or who you were?

Event #3: Turning Point

In looking back on one's life, it is often possible to identify certain key "turning points" -- episodes through

which a person undergoes substantial change. Turning points can occur in many different spheres of a person's life -

- in relationships with other people, in work and school, in outside interests, etc. I am especially interested in a

turning point in your understanding of yourself. Please identify a particular episode in your life story that you now

see as a turning point. If you feel that your life story contains no turning points, then describe a particular episode

in your life that comes closer than any other to qualifying as a turning point. [Note: If subject repeats an earlier event (e.g., peak experience, nadir) ask him or her to choose another one. Each of the 8 critical events in this section

should be independent. We want 8 separate events. If the subject already mentioned an event under the section of

"Life Chapters," it may be necessary to go over it again here. This kind of redundancy in inevitable.]

Event #4: Earliest Memory

Think back now to your childhood, as far back as you can go. Please choose a relatively clear memory

from your earliest years and describe it in some detail. The memory need not seem especially significant in your life

today. Rather what makes it significant is that it is the first or one of the first memories you have, one of the first

scenes in your life story. The memory should be detailed enough to qualify as an "event." This is to say that you

should choose the earliest (childhood) memory for which you are able to identify what happened, who was involved,

and what you were thinking and feeling. Give us the best guess of your age at the time of the event.

Event #5: Important Childhood Scene

Now describe another memory from childhood, from later childhood, that stands out in your mind as

especially important or significant. It may be a positive or negative memory. What happened? Who was involved?

What did you do? What were you thinking and feeling? What impact has the event had on you? What does it say

about who you are or who you were? Why is it important?

Event #6: Important Adolescent Scene

Describe a specific event from your teen-aged years that stands out as being especially important or


Event #7: Important Adult Scene

Describe a specific event from your adult years (age 21 and beyond) that stands out as being especially

important or significant.

Event #8: One Other Important Scene

Describe one more event, from any point in your life, that stands out in your memory as being esepcially

important or significant.

III. Life Challenge

Looking back over the various chapters and scenes in your life story, please describe the single greatest

challenge that you have faced in your life. How have you faced, handled, or dealt with this challenge? Have other

people assisted you in dealing with this challenge? How has this challenge had an impact on your life story?

IV. Influences on the Life Story: Positive and Negative


Looking back over your life story, please identify the single person, group of persons, or

organizaton/institution that has or have had the greatest positive influence on your story. Please describe this

person, group, or organization and the way in which he, she, it, or they have had a positive impact on your story.


Looking back over your life story, please identify the single person, group of persons, or

organization/institution that has or have had the greatest negative influence on your story. Please describe this

person, group, or organization and the way in which he, she, it, or they have had a negative impact on your story.

V. Stories and the Life Story

You have been telling me about the story of your life. In so doing, you have been trying to make your life

into a story for me. I would like you now to think a little bit more about stories and how some particular stories

might have influenced your own life story. From an early age, we all hear and watch stories. Our parents may read

us stories when we are little; we hear people tell stories about everyday events; we watch stories on television and

hear them on the radio; we see movies or plays; we learn about stories in schools, churches, synagogs, on the

playground, in the neighborhood, with friends, family; we tell stories to each other in everyday life; some of us even

write stories. I am interested in knowing what some of your favorite stories are and how they may have influenced

how you think about your own life and your life story. I am going to ask you about three kinds of stories. In each

case, try to identify a story you have heard in your life that fits the description, describe the story very briefly, and

tell me if and how that story has had an effect on you.

Television, Movie, Performance: Stories Watched

Think back on TV shows you have seen, movies, or other forms of entertainment or stories from the media

that you have experienced. Please identify one of your favorite stories from this domain -- for example, a favorite

TV show or series, a favorite movie, play, etc. In a couple of sentences, tell me what the story is about. Tell me

why you like the story so much. And tell me if and how the story has had an impact on your life.

Books, Magazines: Stories Read

Now think back over things you have read -- stories in books, magazines, newspapers, and so on. Please

identify one of your favorite stories from this domain. Again, tell me a little bit about the story, why you like it, and

what impact, if any, it has had on your life.

Family Stories, Friends: Stories Heard

Growing up, many of us hear stories in our families or from our friends that stick with us, stories that we

remember. Family stories include things parents tell their children about "the old days," their family heritage,

family legends, and so on. Children tell each other stories on the playground, in school, on the phone, and so on.

Part of what makes life fun, even in adulthood, involves friends and family telling stories about themselves and

about others. Try to identify one story like this that you remember, one that has stayed with you. Again, tell me a

little bit about the story, why you like it or why you remember it, and what impact, if any, it has had on your life.

VI. Alternative Futures for the Life Story

Now that you have told me a little bit about your past, I would like you to consider the future. I would like

you to imagine two different futures for your life story.

Positive Future

First, please describe a positive future. That is, please describe what you would like to happen in the future

for your life story, including what goals and dreams you might accomplish or realize in the future. Please try to be

realistic in doing this. In other words, I would like you to give me a picture of what you would realistically like to

see happen in the future chapters and scenes of your life story.

Negative Future

Now, please describe a negative future. That is, please describe a highly undesirable future for yourself,

one that you fear could happen to you but that you hope does not happen. Again, try to be pretty realistic. In other

words, I would like you to give me a picture of a negative future for your life story that could possibly happen but

that you hope will not happen.

[Note to interviewers: Try to get as much concrete detail as possible.]

VII. Personal Ideology

Now I would like to ask a few questions about your fundamental beliefs and values and about questions of

meaning and spirituality in your life. Please give some thought to each of these questions.

1. Consider for a moment the religious or spiritual dimensions of your life. Please describe in a nutshell

your religous beliefs or the ways in which you approach life in a spiritual sense.

2. Please describe how your religious or spiritual life, values, or beliefs have changed over time.

3. How do you approach political and social issues? Do you have a particular political point of view? Are

there particular issues or causes about which you feel strongly? Describe them.

4. What is the most important value in human living? Explain.

5. What else can you tell me that would help me understand your most fundamental beliefs and values

about life and the world, the spiritual dimensions of your life, or your philosophy of life?

VIII. Life Theme

Looking back over your entire life story as a story with chapters and scenes, extending into the past as well

as the imagined future, can you discern a central theme, message, or idea that runs throughout the story? What is

the major theme of your life story? Explain.

IX. Other

What else should I know to understand your life story?

Book: "The Power of Story, Rewrite Your Destiny in Business and in Life" Jim Loehr

I recently read the book: "The Power of Story" by Jim Loehr and I highly recommend it.  

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it". 
James M. Barrie

As Toastmasters we are both story tellers and relentless self improvers and this book combines both interests by offering up a handy 9 step roadmap for writing your compelling action focused personal transformation story:

1.    Purpose?

·        How do you want to be remembered?

·        What is the legacy that you most want to leave for others?

·        How would you most like people to eulogize you at your funeral?

·        What is worth dying for?

·        What makes your life really worth living?

·        In what areas of your life must you be truly extraordinary to fulfil your destiny?

2.    Face the truth

·        In which areas of your life is your story not working? If your story is not aligned with your core purpose, then this story cannot take you where you want to go.

·        In which categories do you want to be more engaged to fulfill your Ultimate Mission?

·        Work

·        Family

·        Health

·        Happiness

·        Friendship

·        Money

·        Self-Indulgence

·        Fame/power

·        Death (constructive awareness of)

·        Sex/intimacy

·        Trust Integrity

·        Parents

·        Religion

·        Spirituality

·        Love

·        Food/diet

·        Exercise

·        Children

·        Spouse/Partner

·        Other

3.    Select a story to work on first.

·        Which of the stories causes you the most concern and grief?

·        Which of the stories causes you the most disruption in your life?

·        Which of the stories causes the most misalignment in your life?

·        Which of the stories do you most want to work on now?

4.    Write the Story you have been telling yourself that has allowed this misalignment to continue?

·        Capture the private voice

·        Capture the public voice

·        Exaggerate the emotion to get it going

·        Bring in as much color and texture to your story as you can

·        Bring in faulty assumptions

·        What are you ignoring?

·        What assumptions are flawed?

·        How does it not inspire you to take action?

·        What are the hidden influences?

·        Do you get defensive? What are you protecting? What parts are the most sensitive?

·        If you follow the fear where does it take you?

·        What is the logic and rationale that allowed this story to keep you from making change?

·        Is this really your voice telling the story or someone else’s? Who’s voice is it?

5.    How does your Old Story make you feel?

·        Sick?

·        Dumb?

·        Embarrassed?

·        Does it stir powerful feelings of disgust?

·        Can you see and feel the story’s dysfunctionality? 

6.    Write a New Story that:

·        Is fully aligned with your ultimate purpose.

·        Reflects the truth.

·        Inspires you to take hope filled action.


·        Start with the words: “The truth is…”. Describe as vividly as possible what will happen if you continue with the old story you’ve got.

·        Let it stir emotionality.

·        It should clearly reflect and connect with your ultimate mission and clearly what you care about

·        It should be inspirational for you when you read it. It must move you powerfully, emotionally and move you to take action.

·        Optimism and hope that it is achievable with persistence and dedication

·        Be sure this is what you really want.

·        Craft the story around it being a major turning point and as a breakthrough.

·        Use a sincere voice to communicate it completely and unambivalently

·        Bring forward your best voice of reason, wisdom and intelligence.

7.    Design explicit rituals that ensure your new story becomes reality

·        Rituals enhance energy management

·        Rituals invest energy into the new story and make it come true

·        Connect it to values

·        Invest energy in it for 30 to 90 days

·        Be precise

·        Adopt a limit number at a time

·        Focus on where you are going

·        Create a supportive environment. Partners, tracker, triggers, calendar, to do list etc.

·        Reread your new story every day.

8.    Establish a daily accountability ritual

·        Accessible for daily updates

·        Energy and Time

·        Consider reviewing it with someone

·        Be obsessive

·        Rewrite the story of necessary to keep up your enthusiasm.

9.    After Mission is Completed

·        Pick another faulty story to work on.

·        Repeat the process as long as you live.

Highlights “The Power of Story”

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it". James M. Barrie

Our brains are story creating machines and create cause and effect stories to make sense of things. Our stories are the only reality we will know in life.

To edit a story you must be able to see, to identify the dysfunction in it.

Ask the question: in what important areas of my life is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I have got?

Identify how pervasive story is in your life and rewrite it.

How did your unintended consequence occur? Gradually and then suddenly.

Culture as stories we tell ourselves.

You can’t have everything but you can have what is most important.

Disengagement (Presenteeism/Absenteeism) vs full engagement

The most precious resource humans have is energy (not time).

Faulty storytelling drives how we create and how we spend energy.

The most important story you will ever tell is the story you tell to yourself.

The most erronious stories are those we think we know the best and therefore never scrutinize or question. Stephen Jay Gould.

Tell yourself the right story, the rightness of which only you can determine, only you can feel and the dynamics of your energy will change. If you are living the story you want you aren’t just the author, you are the hero and the story is an epic (not a tragedy or a comedy).

Chapter 1 Old Stories

People don’t need new facts they need new stories. Annette Simmons “the Story Factor”

If you have to blame the institution, then get out. Don’t be a victim your boss isn’t going to change.

Be prepared to alter the story if it isn’t working.

Organizations thrive when their people are energized, engaged, nimble and responsive.

Most organizations people are in survival mode and chronically fatigued and in survival mode so excellence, speed, productivity and innovation are secondary.

Military or sports ignoring your health would be unthinkable.

Chapter 2 The Purpose of Your Life

Words on your tombstone

Your ultimate mission

Purpose Is Never Forgettable

Is the story true? Why is the story being told?

Unity and alignment are the hallmarks of persuasive stories.

Flawed alignment leads to a flawed ending

3. How Faithful a narrator are you?

Faulty assumptions?

Because I can syndrome. Nobody to reinforce your choices. No immediate feedback.

“Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that.” Erik Heller.


Close to the truth. White lies.

The four scenarios:

A good past led to a good present

A good past led to a bad present

A bad past led to a bad present

A bad past led to a good present

Pessimists watch out

Optimists watch out

4. is it really your story you are living?

A Big Battle for a Little Voice

Indoctrination happens in organizations

Group think: intolerance, rigidity, inflexibility, fear, inability to see value in opposing points of view, fanatical, coercive, control, deprival of information, deprival of voice

Susceptibility to brainwashing:

·        Preoccupation with wealth, fame or power.

·        Lack of clarity around values, purpose and spirituality.

·        Tendency to look outside yourself for answers to life’s most profound questions.

·        Very limited capacity for self awareness and self reflection

·        Poorly defined sense of self

·        Considerable inner turmoil, unhappiness and discontent.

Step outside yourself and examine your story. Examine what does and doesn’t work in your life as you’re living it. Its so easy to go with the flow and to become our surroundings and our environment and to not be self-aware.  Without clarity we are our own deceivers.

Your values may not be yours. I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.

Your values and beliefs affect your story.

We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.

Do my beliefs and values help my story take me where I want to go?

Crap detector or gatekeeper. Don’t want it to be absent or overactive.

5. Private Voice

Compare your inner and outer voice

Voice Lessons: Ten Inner Voice Skills

1.       Quiet your inner voice. Able to shut down the chatter and be totally absorbed.

2.       Summon your inner voice of conscience

3.       Summon your inner voice of reason and wisdom

4.       Summon your inner voice of support and encouragement. Watch out for that critic!

5.       Summon your inner voice of toughness. What would a heroic person do?

6.       Summon your I don’t buy it inner voice. What evidence supports this?

7.       Learn to suspend your I don’t buy it voice. What if this was true? What if I’m wrong?

8.       Summon your inner voice of compassion.

9.       Summon your inner voice of sincerity

10.   Summon your inner voice of intuition

6. Three Rules of Storytelling

The best way to increase happiness is to consciously increase thoughts of gratitude in one’s daily life.

Change is possible but when? When is the right time?

Turning points are more evident in the later telling “What’s your Story” Ibarra, Kent Lineback HBR

During life we experience moments where we lose our sense of meaning and purpose.

There is no longer a sense of alignment between our inner values and our tasks in the world.

We lack vitality, commitment and initiative.

After reflection and contemplation, we realize we need a new focus a new vision, but it is hard to uncover. How by taking control of the story. Your story has to move you.

Three rules of good storytelling.

Purpose. Truth. (hope filled) Action.

The truth is:

·        Does it take me where I want to go?

·        Is it grounded in reality?

·        Does it lead to action that stimulates genuine hope?

What moves all stories is energy. Physical energy.

7. It’s not about time. It is about Energy and Engagement.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Winston Churchill.

Mister Fred Rogers hosted Jeff Erlanger. Laser like presence. Focus.

If all you had to give was your total energy you could accomplish historic things.

Are you distracted, multitasking? Your chances of returning a 140 mph serve? Zero.

Multitasking is the enemy of extraordinariness. Multitask when it doesn’t matter. Fully engage when it does.

Pick three things to do in the day and rate the level of focus 1-3-5

Don’t credit time. It’s meaningless.

What would a video camera show?

You need enough energy to fuel your story.

Energizers leverage and replenish energy physical, emotional, mental and spiritually. People want to work for energizers. Energizers perform better and those who touch energizers perform better as well.

Willingness to hope (vs victims).

8. Do you have enough resources to live your best story?

Get the Eating Story Straight

·        Feeling satisfied vs feeling full

·        Eat slowly

·        Eat light and often

·        Do not multitask while eating

·        Eat only what you need for the next two hours of the day.


·        Regular

·        Outside of the comfort zone

·        Be engaged while doing it – don’t just go through the motions


·        Move around get the blood flowing

·        Get outside

·        Move vertically from engaged and active to relaxed.

·        Pomodoro technique.

·        Work in different places and on different things.

·        Replenish the mental energy by doing something easy.

·        Maximize creative energy by carving out dedicated uninterrupted blocks.


·        Sleep

·        Breaks

9. indoctrinate yourself


Go into the iceberg to understand wants needs, memories, feelings. Shine the light on shame.

Lift up the defenses and become aware of the hidden stories. Let the tension be released. Forgive.

Embed your new Life Story by Indoctrination:

·        Write it

·        Read it daily

·        Journal where your energy goes

·        Create training missions

·        Create rituals and track them

10.   Turning stories into action.

Create training missions

List rituals to fulfil the objective

Energy invested will result in a training effect, muscle grows and it becomes easier.

The Eating Story