Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

We Don’t Know How Powerful Our Story Is… Until We Share It

I wrote something but was unsure if anyone would like it. Whether it would resonate or connect with anyone but maybe a few readers was doubtful. But still, I felt called to write it.

So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

I wrote until I was done writing, which ended up being a longer-than-average, super in-depth article — something I was sure folks would skim over.

Still, I needed to write the piece. So I sent it off to a blog I had guest posted on before, thinking it might connect with their audience. And they published it, which was nice.

Thinking that was the end of it, I moved on. But then the comments began to pour in. People said things like:

  • “This is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever read.”
  • “This was just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!”
  • Wow! This is so beautiful… it made me cry!”

All that… from a story? And one I’ve told a hundred different times at that. Interesting.

All I did was do share my experience and the lessons I learned. And somehow, it resonated with readers at a deep level. Maybe that’s all it takes to inspire: simply, the courage to do and the generosity to share.

You see, we often complicate this process of pursuing our dream and doing meaningful work in the world. But inspiration, at its core, is a generous, vulnerable act. It requires you to share, to give in ways that are uncomfortable.

If you’re not putting yourself out there, somehow risking rejection, you aren’t really inspiring. You’re performing.

So what would it look like for you to truly inspire today? If you need a few practical takeaways, here’s how it boils down:

  1. Do what you’re called to do — even if you have no idea how to succeed (because passion is contagious).
  2. Tell your story (because you never know whom it might inspire).
  3. Share what you learn (because this is how we help others).

To read the original story I wrote, check out: How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job, & Launched My Dream

What could sharing your story mean? Have you ever experienced anything like this? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Jotpreet

    Yeah, I guess, Goins, you’re right.

    We Don’t Know How Powerful Our Story Is… Until We Share It. And there lies the key. We should share more & more

  • Robin

    So true! I have had a topic I wanted to write about for a long time, but didn’t because I didn’t think it fit w/in my blog focus. Finally I did last week and it’s one of my more well-received posts, with some great feedback. I’m proud of myself for doing that and now I feel like I can step out with topics even more. Working towards what you have told us to do: build an audience who likes your voice vs. just a particular topic….

  • tparker

    I get this all the time on my Facebook page and on my blog when I share my weight loss journey. They call me inspiring. Some days I don’t feel very inspiring at all. The years I went through morbid obesity all condensed into a 600 word blog, though, is impactful. I’m seeing my story start others down the path to become healthier and that in itself is awesome.

    • Oh, I bet! That’s such an important topic that so many people have struggles with. Sharing what you’ve done, and even some of your failures, can be an incredible resource for others.

  • BruceCross

    Jeff – I plan to read the original story at some point today, but this post is highly encouraging. Although I have not left my job (yet!) I am doing exactly what you inferred…I am becoming vulnerable and letting my story be of benefit to someone….or trusting that it will. Thanks for the poignant reminder which I read while listening to some instrumental music that is bringing deep healing and joy to me at the moment! Thanks for sharing

    • Excellent, Bruce!

      • BruceCross

        Jeff – could not resist the urge to read the orginal post. You have no idea (yes, you do!) how you have confirmed and expanded my vision field – taking a leap of faith here…can you point me to the place on your site that describes your Guest Posting requirements?
        Although my sights are already beyond thinking of writing as a hobby…you sincerely have cemented some things in me today…thanks again for allowing your story to make an impact on me…!!

  • Sometimes it is because we quickly forget that a certain idea was transforming to us and after sometime we just find it mediocre. But new people come and they have the same WOW effect we had. Keep sharing, then!

    Thanks, Jeff.

  • I love love LOVE this post, or story, rather. Thanks for inspiring us Jeff! I just read the original post on Problogger too. Wow.

    This line struck me the deepest: “Buried in my blog was a business; I just had to find it.”

  • NoelleNotNoel

    Totally need this nudge of encouragement to keep pushing forward with the blog I’m setting up and looking to launch soon. The concept of the blog is exciting for me, but I’m also feeling a little bit scared about launching it and that “what will people think” is setting in. I’ve been very encouraged by the people that have been involved so far, so I guess that’s an indication I’m on the right track. But this post is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, Noel — er, I mean Noelle! 😉

      • NoelleNotNoel

        Haha I see what you did there. 🙂

  • Breanna

    I love this! I actually have to share my testimony at a retreat in a couple weeks. This will be my second time sharing. When they asked me, I said, “sure! It won’t be one of those deep, dark stories, but I would love to share my walk with Christ.” I’ve been putting together some notes, but this inspires me to finish it. 😀

  • Jess

    Thank you for this nugget: “But inspiration, at its core, is a generous, vulnerable act.” I am just finishing my memoir of growing up with an alcoholic mother. To say I’m feeling a bit vulnerable is an understatement for sure! Hoping it will be read by many as a bridge of healing. Blessings~

    • I understand that feeling, Jess. You’re brave to share your story. It’s going to make a difference in people’s lives — believe that.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Today I want to remember “If you’re not putting yourself out there, somehow risking rejection, you aren’t really inspiring.” – that has to do with both my music and my writing; and

    “Do what you’re called to do — even if you have no idea how to succeed”

    • Glad that resonated with you, Cherry. Would love to hear some of your music!

  • The right words always come to be read by our eyes when we need them. I needed some additional encouragement as, this morning, I do something with my story I’ve never done before. Thanks, Jeff!

  • Heather C Button

    Thanks. I want to remember to be bold in my writing. And that means being vulnerable.

  • “the courage to do and the generosity to share.” Love that, Jeff. I would have to agree that we never know who needs to hear our stories. Amazed at the posts I end up hitting share on and think… I just had to write that…even if no one else “gets” it. But then the crazy thing is…those are the ones people get!

    • Yep! It’s a lot of fun when that happens.

  • I love that. I’m writing an eBook and this has inspired me to incorporate more storytelling into it.

    • Oh, definitely, Larry. Stories connect on so many levels.

  • Thanks so much, Jeff. That is a confirmation on what I need to continue doing. I exposed myself in my blog recently and it made me feel so vulnerable. This comforts me and helps me see that being vulnerable and to keep telling the story that only I can tell (because it’s my story 🙂 is what I need to do. Thanks so much for your encouraging and inspiring writing, Mr. Jeff!

  • Thank you, Jeff. This is great encouragement!

    • Totally my pleasure, William. Thanks for reading.

  • I love this post. The very first thing I had published (an essay about motherhood) touched the heart of a reader and she then responded to my essay. I will never forget how that felt. Writing is such a head game; it’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about what people want to read, making money, etc and sometimes you find yourself lost and running down the wrong pat. It’s so important to stop, check your heart and then write from it. Thanks for this great reminder!

    • It really is. I just try to write faster than my brain works; that seems to help (sometimes). 😉

  • Alanna Menke Cathcart

    When you originally posted this it was huge for me. It took me to a different level. I believed the same thing. I didn’t feel qualified to be a real writer, but since reading that I have kept writing and moving forward. Thank you for your encouragement 🙂

  • Sujata Patnaik

    I am always sure to get inspired with each write up posted by you. Thank you.

  • Sue Neal

    An inspirational post, Jeff – thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how people respond whenever I share any personal experiences in my blog posts – it always makes me feel vulnerable to do so, but the responses invariably show what a great way this is to connect with our readers.

  • Awesome. I am sharing this.
    I am kinda in the middle of that right now. I was at Declare and your message really changed my perspective on my blog. I have had feedback that it is markedly different since the conference and I would attribute that to the talk you gave.
    The passion you have for writing is absolutely contagious.
    I caught it.
    Thank you.

  • Jeff, I recently had a similar experience. My blog, http://www.MakingItRealMinistries, will not officially launch until October 7, but I felt God pressing upon my heart to share something I had written about in my personal journal. I resisted since that would mess up my launch plans. But the feeling was overwhelming so I posted it as a “sneak preview” and have been astounded at the response. I’m so glad I listened to that voice that said to post it. Thanks for your inspiring words. You’ve been a huge inspiration as I prepare to launch my blog.

  • I recently shared my story on the pain of making the difficult decision to put one of our dogs down. The story really resonated with my readers, especially with the pet lovers.

    • Wow. Painful, I’m sure. Thanks for opening up, Joe. I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

  • It is only as I get more vulnerable in my blog posts that I see any traction. I’m learning that the folks who read what I write are as interested in how I gained my experience as they are in what the information I have to share. Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly is having a huge impact on me these days.

  • Daisy Martin

    I speak and write about finding our voices all the time, and people ARE! It’s inspiring to be a part of it. People are finding healing from past pain and continuing on in their lives in a much healthier and more authentic way. I’ve started a tribe for people who have suffered child sexual abuse: http://www.daisyrainmartin.com. Love to all! Daisy Rain

  • Reggievia

    This is so good, Jeff. I always like the words “passion is contagious”.

    I got a quote said, “Don’t write because you’re eager to inspire, write because you have something to say.” I guess somehow this is so true. I just write and post it on my blog because that’s what I want to say. And surprisingly, someone messaged me say that one of my story inspires her. I am really happy and I keep writing what I want/need to say, because we never know if it really inspiring. Thank you, Jeff!

  • Maya Angelou once wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” There is a freedom that comes with sharing our story. Great stuff, Jeff.

  • Abeesh Thomas

    I agree with you, unless you share your experience, you are a lonely planet. I have shared my experience of How I became a Writer through my blog : ThomasAbeesh.com

  • Brilliant reminder, Jeff. Thanks for another timely post. Everything is so simple when you break it down:

    Do what you’re called to do, tell people why you’re doing it in a way that they can relate to, and always be learning, continuing to SHARE what you have learn as you go along.

    Allow yourself to be inspired and you will inspire others without realising.

  • Dawn-Renée Rice

    I have found myself in the same position – sharing my story, not thinking much of it, but then truly amazed at the outpouring of support and thankfulness for what I’ve shared. It’s what led me to finally start putting it into a memoir.

  • Toni

    Almost every “Jeff post” I receive in my email inspires or encourages me. Just today I posted a link to my facebook account sharing some of my story. I didnt feel ready and I feared the response. I did it anyways. And then I read your post about “we dont know how powerful our story is…” and I was like “haha, yeah”.

    SO i guess its just a big “THANK YOU JEFF”, that Im trying to spill here.

  • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    With wobbly knees I recently shared a vulnerable story on my blog. It was one that could have brought a fair amount of judgement from folks. Instead, it resonated deeply and brought a whole new level of understanding on my part, just how important it to share my own journey.

  • Rosanne

    I am a big believer in the power of stories to change peoples’ lives. I write a religion page for my local paper. It’s nothing spectacular but the positive response has been overwhelming. Why? It’s not me – it’s the power of other peoples’ stories to inspire, encourage and challenge the reader. Thanks for sharing this post – it’s just what I needed to hear today! 🙂

  • Margaret Carey

    Thanks so much.. I have been feeling very frustrated because I believe I have a story in me that needs to be told…or several. friends have encouraged me but there are others who I feel would consider it foolish… Your comments have encouraged me to look into it more seriously.. I would love to start a blog….an encouragement blog by simply sharing where I have come from and where I am now…encouragement in the ordinary… However I don’t even know how to start to do that… I do know how to use a computer so I guess that’s a start…right?
    Margaret Carey

  • Cara Perciaccanto

    Your blog resonated with this budding writer. Still trying to get better at calling myself a “writer” as you suggested at the book signing in Raleigh. Keep sharing the words of encouragement , determination and willingness to fight the fear of trying. So many of us want to inspire others but taking the first leap is daunting.

  • Putting our words out there, letting them fly on their own, can be freeing and terrifying, fulfilling and a struggle. But when we do it opens us up for so many blessings! Thanks for this encouragement!

  • Map

    Thanks so much.. I have been feeling very frustrated because I believe I
    have a story in me that needs to be told…or several. friends have
    encouraged me but there are others who I feel would consider it

  • This is fantastic. I think we often underestimate the power of sharing our story since it seems fairly typical to us. Not to mention it can be a bit scary. But how can people connect with you if they don’t know who you are?

    I’m going to try and work some more of my story into my writing, instead of just those of others.

  • Roni Carter

    Jeff, I love this post, and I particularly love #1 – it really validates what I’ve been writing on my own blog. I’ve written my whole life, but very little of it has been seen by eyes other than my own. I created a blog to start talking about writing, dreaming, and life, although I am far from an expert on any of these subjects. You’ve reminded me that even when I don’t know how to give people “the answers”, just saying what I think or what I’ve experienced might be helpful to someone.

  • We have our own story to tell and we don’t know how many people will get inspired of our story. Take the risk of rejection because simply not people like what your story is all about. But I think either good or bad, there has something to learn from it.

  • Jeff, I had a story. And for 30 years I held back from telling it. I was driven by fear of what people would think about me. I feared rejection. I was held back by an unforgiving spirit to boot. Stuff had happened and I did not have a relationship with my father. Though I am a communication specialist, I had never thought myself as a writer. Then one day, I began my journey of forgiveness. It started off as a letter to my father. Less than a year later, “Down But Not Out: Becoming a Significant Leader at Home” is undergoing editorial review with my publisher.

    The most amazing thing was when I asked a few people I respect to provide me with honest reviews. I was floored! Please allow me to illustrate to others what impact YOUR STORY has. One of my reviewers said, “This is the story of me, the story many men want to tell, but don’t have the guts or courage to do so”. Barry Smith, of Building What Matters, added “Authentic and Transparent! Kimunya Mugo, in Down But Not Out, brings his incredible story to life in becoming a significant leader at home. Recognizing that home is where it starts, he delivers a roadmap to creating a legacy that any person would seek. A must read for any parent that desires to empower their children to live a life of significance despite the challenges that life throws at us every day.”

    That is the power of YOUR STORY. You need to tell it, inspire others and most probably, rescue a soul or two from destruction as you tell it.

    • it had to be said

      it’s sad you got no replies. but that’s the nature of this dumb writer blogs: nobody gives a fu ck about you, theyr’e in it for the money. thx 4 sharing

  • It Had to be said

    God damn it! Would you stop opening twenty million tabs each time i f u c king click on a link??????????????????????? I want the tab I’m on to go there, not open 3 billion tabs taht crash my computer. A ss holes!

  • it had to be said

    whoever jeff goins is, i’m sure i’m not the only one who feels like they wanna punch the smug out of his idiot ginger face! (pic below)