The Stories We Tell Ourselves

W. Gayle Turner, Class of 1985 - Richmond, Virginia
Entered on March 2, 2012
Themes: hope, integrity
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I believe we live into the stories we tell ourselves.

I have been blessed with more than my share of gifts. Not the least of which were my parents. As far back as I can remember my mother, in particular, has praised me. And simultaneously never hesitated to chastise me when she feels I’m not living up to the picture she has of me.

To this day I am the recipient of “You can be anything you set your mind to.” As such, I see myself as someone who succeeds.

My father had a slightly more pragmatic view of life and my place in it. While, he too, expected me to succeed, as an entrepreneur he realized always succeeding was unlikely. Twenty years after his passing his affirmations remain with me:

“You’re only a loser, if you quit when you’re down.”

And “There’s nothing we can’t accomplish, one bite at a time.”

The older I get the more important this last one becomes. When I was younger I thought my dad was directing me to break things into manageable chunks. I’ve now come to realize the “we” part is of greater importance.

When I look back on my successes I realize they were all made possible by the people with whom I worked and that my failures were frequently attributable to my forgetting there’s no “I” in team.

I have been privileged to work with incredibly talented, committed, compassionate and caring people in the theatre, on construction sites, in restaurants, ad agencies and now with my colleagues and our consulting clients. Day in, day out I get to go to work with people who are trying to live into their individual and joint stories of making the world a better place.

I’ve survived cancer, heart disease, failed marriages, and business losses. I’ve watched my home burn down and been devastated when my father died unexpectedly. Conversely, I’ve cried tears of joy when my daughter was born and also while watching my five year old grandson sing and dance.

And I’ve laughed and smiled every day, ironically even when in pain.

I continue to be blessed as I strive to live my personal mission which is to enjoy life and to enthuse others to find joy in their lives.

These beliefs have fueled me in this mission for the last 60 years and I expect will continue to do so for however many I have left.

I see every day as an opportunity because:

I was taught to believe I can.

I was taught to believe I am not someone who quits when he is down.

And most importantly, I was taught to believe together, we, can do anything by breaking big challenges into smaller challenges and addressing them one at a time.

That’s my story. The story I live in to. Because that’s the story I believe.