What’s your story?

When I meet people for the first time, as soon as the introductions are out of the way, I ask them to share their stories—to tell me who they are and where they’re from, where they’ve been and where they’re going. I want to understand what matters to them. Maybe you do the same. The telling of our stories becomes an emotional connecting point for us. It bridges the gap between us and other people.

Why is that?

Everyone loves a good story—we always have. Stories tell us who we are. They…

Inspire us.

Connect with us.

Animate our reasoning process.

Give us permission to act.

Fire our emotions.

Give us pictures of who we aspire to be.

Stories are us.

Every day millions of people watch movies, read novels, and search the Internet for stories that inspire them or make them laugh. Every day we listen to our friends tell us about the dramatic or funny things that happen to them. Every day people take out their smart phones to show pictures and share stories. Stories are how we relate to others, learn, and remember.

I believe that no matter what “plot” each of our stories may follow, deep down we all want one thing. We want our lives to matter. We want our stories to be of significance. So here are two more questions:

Do you believe you can live a life of significance, that you can do things that really matter? Can you make your story great?

With all my heart, I believe the answer to these questions is yes. You have it within your power to make your life a great story, one of significance. And don’t let the word significance intimidate you. I’m not talking about being famous. I’m not talking about getting rich. I’m not talking about being a huge celebrity or winning a Nobel Prize or becoming the president of the United States. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but you don’t have to accomplish any of them to be significant. To be significant, all you have to do is make a difference with others wherever you are, with whatever you have, day by day.

As you probably know, my new book Intentional Living came out earlier this month. In it, I share my own significance story, plus practical teaching and tools that will help you write your story of making a difference.

One thing you might not know, however, is that we have also created a resource to help you discover how to make your life count. It’s called The 30 Day Journey, and it’s a chance for you to experience intentional living – by learning from daily video lessons from me, plus practical ideas for small but significant acts that enable you practice making a difference in the lives of others right away.

One of the most exciting parts of the The 30 Day Journey is the opportunity we give you to share stories of significance with members of a community. This is my favorite feature, because I love seeing how people like you are already making a difference with your family, friends, colleagues, and people you don’t know. Here are just a couple excerpts from the stories people are telling about their journey of significance:

This was my first time to intentionally talk to a stranger on the bench. To see how happy he looked that somebody actually cared for what has happened to him made me feel alive and connected. I want more of that….to be continued.   -Ebony Fagbuyi

I am now beginning to lead my thoughts and actions to speak encouraging words through listening, not just with my ears, but with my eyes, senses and my heart. I find as I focus on others, to discover how I can add value to them (my children and family first), it brings great joy and a discovery of who I truly am and who I’m called to be!!   -Vernon Andrews

I am going to make a habit of doing these things on a daily basis: 
1) Chose to speak positively about your circumstance.
2) Remember: There is more than enough for everyone.
3) Spend time with other people with an abundance mindset.
Growing up in a home where my grandparents had survived some dark times… we were raised with a scarcity mindset. In order to reprogram my way of thinking, I need to change my way of thinking.  
-Nelson Salgado

Reluctance is often our enemy in life. We can talk ourselves out of anything before we even think about it!! I have argued over and over in my head for several weeks and decided I would rather be a risk taker and jump into the river of life. It never runs dry. It is so amazing that when you jump into the river you will never jump into the same water twice. So why not jump?   -Missy Monokian

If you’re like me and want to make a difference and have a significance story to tell, the first thing you need to do is be willing to take an important step forward. And that comes from a willingness to start writing your story by approaching your life differently.

I hope you’ll join me on The 30 Day Journey. You will receive a copy of Intentional Living and access to all the material we’ve created, along with all the inspiring stories that you want to read. And you’ll be able to share your own story, to inspire others.

No matter what, I challenge you to identify one single action you could take today to start rewriting your own story. Share that in the comments. As Doug Horton says, “Be your own hero. It’s cheaper than a movie ticket.”


  1. John Dietz on November 15, 2018 at 6:12 am

    From Survival, to Success to Significance to Legacy

    It’s not as easy as it sounds and not everyone completes the journey and no one makes it to the top on their own. “If I have accomplished anything in life it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    The first 20 years of my life were about survival. Life was hard, wait – it was really hard. The next ten years were about rebelling and having fun. I know, you’re supposed to do that in your teens. Lets just say, I was late to the party. The next 15 years were about success. Monica and I started a family, KeyMark Fundraising was my first experience in 30 years achieving success, making money and feeling like I had finally found something I was good at. Most of you don’t know the story behind the story but remember, life was hard. From 1992 when Monica and I were married to 2007, everything we did worked, we made lots of money and had a great time along the way – but we were stuck in success, actually, I’m not sure we even knew what significance and legacy meant. Over the next three years and three very stupid mistakes, all my own choices by the way, we lost everything. Our business failed, we lost our home, the Real Estate Market crashed and we went $500,000 in debt. The next 10 were about digging out of the giant hole we found ourselves in and I was back in survival mode. Then, in what seemed like a blink, we went from survival to huge success as one of the top 5 Realtors in our market, an offer to become the Team Leader for a new KW market center in Coral Springs and all of a sudden life is good again. In the next 12 months, Lacey was diagnosed with Non Hoskins Lymphoma, we took a significant cut in income to build this amazing new KW market center and between the cost of Lacey’s care and added expenses of supporting two homes, one in Palm Harbor where Lacey would spend the next 12 months in and out of All Children’s Hospital with 52 weeks of Chemotherapy, the money we had saved to start a new life and build a new business in Coral Springs was gone. Not only were we back in survival mode again as a family but our daughter was literally fighting for her life. Now as Paul Harvey would say, “now for the rest of the story, The last three years have been the best three years of my life. Why? Great question! Lacey beat cancer, Praise God, Monica and Lacey were able to move to Coral Springs with me, Collin and Kristy were married and are building a beautiful family and that new business we moved to CS to build has grown from launch in 2014 to one of the top 5 KW market centers in South Florida in four years. Other than Lacey beating cancer, the best of the best over the past three years was discovering a life of significance and legacy. Actually, by the worlds definition of success, we are still living a life of survival as we dig out of another hole. This time though, it’s not about success. Life over the past three years and for as long as my heart continues to beat has become a mission to serve others and leave a legacy. I hope that my parents would have been proud of me. I will leave you with this, my only goal now is to hear at the end of my life, “well done good and faithful servant.”

  2. Pushpa on January 1, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Hello, i have just gone through the most painful event in my life journey, something which i had never thought i would ever have to go through feeling that i had had my share of dark events. The ultimate betrayal got me to question my faith, when i had used God to be my witness. Having lost everything again, the 3 closest people to me, been bankrupt, never ever had a true friend, orphaned, betrayal by those who you thought were yours and the ups and downs in my faith and ability – Separation was the single most difficult times in my life, yet it comes back again again and again. I am not sure this time round, what the universal is trying to teach me again.
    I am simple and have always reached to help others and i believe God may have let me go through this journey so that i can honestly say to the world, yes i have personally gone through this journey of pain, confusion, betrayal, no funds, lost and the doubts. I have no one to go and always looked for the way for myself, i still cannot understand i have made it this far, without ending my life, having a major breakdown or finding ulterior motives to live rather than still seeking God out. I pray that God directs my friend, my teacher, my master to me so that i can have support and guidance in fulfilling the purpose he has destines for me.

    • Yemi Otusemade on June 14, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Pushpa ,

      Stay encouraged, the lord is near. Psalms 34:16 – The lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I pray that God will restore to you all that has been robbed from you. Amen

      your Friend

  3. Milton and Debbie Drake on June 22, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    The Best Family Vacation Ever!

    We have been blessed with a wonderful family–five accomplished and loving children, twelve wonderful grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Throughout the years of raising our family, we have had many victories and have made many mistakes. Many wonderful friends have given to us and helped us along the way, and at this stage in our lives, we are trying to give back to others the way many have so abundantly given to us. While we have read many good books and have been inspired by the stories of others, two main influences stand out in helping us grow to our potential and become a positive influence on others: (1) the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, and (2) books by John Maxwell.

    Maxwell’s challenge to put what we learn into practice has changed our lives dramatically. We are just finishing Intentional Living, and the principles in this book have once again propelled us into action, transforming us and those around us. The following is just one example.

    We and all of our children and grandchildren live in the Boston area, except one daughter (Sue) and her family who live in Chicago. Because of the Covid pandemic, we had not seen her, our son-in-law, or their two children for about a year and a half. In April, Sue decided to travel by car with the family to Boston, to be able to visit us and her 4 siblings and their families.

    We have had many family get togethers over the years, with many good memories. And as happens in families, there have also been misunderstandings, missed communications, and sometimes quick judgements of one’s intentions. As each of our children moved out on their own, they traveled different paths, and the fact that each one is different than the other, became even more clear as time passed on. Personalities, strengths and weaknesses came to the forefront, and the realization was that each family was quite different from the other.

    Of course, a parents’ desire is to see their children love one another, help each other when needed, and appreciate the differences that they all have, building one another up during good times and bad. We recognized that we had work to do to help our children and grandchildren–in spite of how different they are from one another–love and respect each other. We wanted to make this vacation a watershed moment–one that would have a landmark effect on relationships in the family. What could we do?

    We started with thinking about what we wanted to accomplish: close relationships between the cousins, love and respect between the 5 siblings. We anticipated seeing the relationships grow and blossom:
    • Teen cousins Ben and Elias had had some difficult interactions, mainly we believed, because they are so different from one another in personality. Elias is a gentle, quiet young man, not comfortable with the spotlight and more of a visual learner. Ben is more driven and competitive, excelling in academics. Elias has become an expert at constructing and flying model planes and enjoys basketball, but is not that competitive. Ben enjoys golf and board games, and likes to win. How could we make this vacation a win-win for both boys? We knew that if they were able to connect with one another and appreciate their differences, the parents of both cousins would also connect better. The idea we had was to have Elias teach Ben how to fly his aircraft, and perhaps construct one while they were visiting. This took a lot of intentional preparation:
    o Elias researched what would be needed to create another aircraft to fly.
    o Ben needed to practice–we sent him a simulator to use on his computer in Chicago, to begin practicing flying and landing.
    o Elias constructed the plane.
    o Ben brought the simulator back so that he and Elias could practice some more. This was a lot of fun, and so rewarding to see the two boys having fun together.
    o The two boys, with their dads, took the plane out to fly. There were a few crashes, but it was fantastic fun!
    o We also made sure we spent time eating together, enjoying one another’s company. Watching the two boys tease each other and genuinely like being together was a very special reward.

    Another family situation that needed help was the relationship between Sue and her younger brother Steve. For many different reasons, Sue and Steve had not communicated much over the years since they had both married and raised a family, and there were many hurt feelings between the two. We wanted this to change and had prayed about it almost daily. We knew that the both of them had very generous and compassionate hearts, and if they could just see each other in a positive light, they would begin to appreciate one another. Acting intentionally and not relying on things to “just happen,” we scheduled a barbeque with both families the day after Sue arrived from Chicago. Steve and his wife were very eager to improve their relationship with Sue, Matt and the children. We suggested that Steve come with a small gift and a card for his sister, since they had not seen each other for quite some time. Steve and his wife were very eager to do this, and asked advice on what to give, what Sue liked. They involved their children in the process, and they were the ones to present the gift to their Auntie Sue. This small act set up a remarkable interaction between Sue and the children, and of course when parents see their children happy, they in turn relax. This paved the way for meaningful conversation between Sue and Steve, and for the cousins to play games together and have a ton of fun.

    The next thing we needed to act on with intentionality was encouraging the relationships between the girls. This was easier, since two of them had been facetiming and Zooming with each other during the pandemic, and four of them had done a couple Zoom art lessons together. Four of the girls love horses, so we looked around for a place they could all ride while the cousins from Chicago were visiting. Our youngest daughter found the only place that would be open in April–so we booked it. The four girls went on a very cold trail ride which will probably go down as a war story–but they enjoyed doing it together, and it also brought the parents together.

    There were many other get-togethers while Sue and her family were here. We believe that none of this would have happened had we not learned to live each day with intentionality, looking at each situation as an opportunity, solving problems by thinking out of the box, being flexible and believing the impossible.
    We have had many vacations with our children, but not many in which several of the children said, many times, “This was the best vacation ever!” We did not go to an expensive resort. We did not spend a lot of money. We did not travel to an exotic location. Instead, it was the improvement in relationships that made the difference.

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