What’s Bildungsroman? “Bildungsroman” is a German word that’s actually a combination of two words. A bildungsroman is a story that centers around a coming-of-age event. The word “bildung” is an education while “roman” means novel, so a bildungsroman is a story about an event that proved to be educational and life-changing. It usually highlights the formative years and challenges faced by the author. Typically, the end includes a positive ending with the author’s disappointments and mistakes behind them and a positive and useful life ahead of them.
There’s a reason why I am putting the word’s definition in the beginning of this blog post. It is the heart of everything that comes next. It’s essential you find your bildungsroman to design your personal story in a way that attracts customers, creates and grows your brand, and provides the message you wish to deliver.
Bildungsroman Definition | Personal Story To Transform
Your Story Is Your Message,Your Brand
Let me highlight an important note about bildungsroman’s definition, especially in relation to your story.
Your story is your message, and your message plays a big role in how you enrol clients, market online, and create something that’s authentic.
Your message is also a brand. It’s your knowledge and your wisdom. Even if you say, “I’m selling a product, Ted, I’m not the brand,” you’re the messenger. Think of Steve Jobs, for example, Apple will always revolve around him. When people talk about Apple, they will also remember Jobs. In fact, people are so intrigued by his personal story they can care more about it than Apple.
Your personal story compels people to create a personal relationship with you, which creates a personal connection with the brand.
10 Steps To Build Your Personal Story
To ultimately build your personal bildungsroman, let’s talk about how to define a story. What do you need to make one that’s powerful, real, and sincere?
1. Be Vulnerable And Credible
Without vulnerability, your message loses power. pic.twitter.com/i6N2O0tym6
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) October 20, 2017
Stories need to have two things: vulnerability and credibility. Both of these go hand in hand.
Vulnerability is dropping into a place where you are open and honest with people about who you are. It is connected with the Pit. Credibility is about the breakthrough moments of how you created results and success in your life.
If there’s one thing I wish to emphasize, it’s that vulnerability is power, but a lot don’t seem to realize that. Most people tell stories as a chain of events: “When I was five, this happened. When I was twenty, this happened. Then, at forty-two, everything changed, and I made all this money.”
They tell you about all the success, but everything is boring. It’s not even being vulnerable. Rather, the person is simply event telling.
What happens is people tune out. They don’t even want to listen to that.
What should a story be then? It’s about the personal moments that lead to the breakthrough.
Besides, if you’re just going for a story that creates credibility for you, which is important, you may as well tell people how great you are, “Hey, I made millions of dollars. I’m this master spiritual coach.” Don’t bother telling a story because your story is going to suck.
But remember, if you do it that way, people will mostly be turned off and think, “This person is all about credibility. They’re all about themselves.” You will never have a visceral, personal experience they can relate to.
2. Start With A Call
The first part of your bildungsroman is the call in your story. Let me show you how to do it using my personal story:
For me, my journey really started when I was six years old. I was sitting on the living room couch one day, and my dad walked through the door. He looked at me and said, “Your mother and I are getting a divorce. We don’t love each other anymore.”
What I did was I created this story that I wasn’t good enough – that my parents didn’t love me, and I wasn’t lovable. I then set the tone of my journey, which was about being an achiever in the hopes of proving I was enough.
But my call was the part where I mentioned about being six years old. It sets the stage for the character.
3. Create A Dilemma
Ask yourself when creating the story: If I’m watching this journey, what’s going to excite me and inspire me? What’s going to touch me? What’s actually going to create this dilemma in the beginning of this story?
For me, that’s experiencing divorce at six years old.
But why should you add a dilemma? You want to make yourself relatable to the audience. You also capture their attention right from the start and make them say, “Wow.”
4. Use The Present Tense
When I tell my story, I use a present tense. I say, “I’m six years old, and my dad walks into the living room. He says, ‘Your mother and I are getting a divorce. We don’t love each other anymore.’”
I’m dropping the audience into the actual experience of me at six. In the process, I allow them to share with my experience. In fact, some of them may feel it is their story. They don’t end up saying, “Oh, look at Ted’s story.” They’re now the character.
5. Get Clients With The Pit
I know what you’re thinking, “How can this story eventually get clients?” As I mentioned in the bildungsroman definition, you need to have a coming-of-age event that has breakthroughs.
But before you can have breakthroughs, you go through a dark point in your life that triggers your transformation. This is the Pit.
My call was when I was six years old, but my Pit was a long journey or process. It got me through periods of success as a sales agent in one of the biggest insurance companies in New York. I pushed myself to the top until I became one of its top agents and was offered a partner position.
Even with these successes, I found myself wanting. I still wasn’t good enough.
Until one day I found myself hanging on to dear life on the kitchen floor. The only thing going on in my mind was the shame of what my parents would feel if I left this planet.
But it wasn’t over. After I was revived, I thought, “Oh, I get it now. Money wasn’t the answer. If I make partner at New York Life, and I get status, then finally I’ll get this monkey off my back.”
I just put my head down, and I went after my goal for six years. I worked sixteen to seventeen hours a day. On June 30, 2005, I was at the top floor of the SunTrust building when my assistant walked in. She handed me the envelope that would tell me if I made partner. When I read the paper, it said, “Ted McGrath, number five partner.” I was 28 years old.
This is my Pit.
The one thing about Pit is it’s the perfect way to show your vulnerability. It leaves you open for judgment from the audience. What will they think of you? But it’s also profound and powerful. I can’t tell you how many people this story has inspired. They say it’s changed their life.
Note: You don’t need to tell your entire story in one sitting. I make different versions lasting three minutes, 90 seconds, etc. I’ve turned my Pit into a 90-minute story where I’m an actor onstage, and it touches people. I do that the night before my Message to Millions live event. The response from people is so transformational because I’m willing to go into the Pit.
6. Find The Real Story
You cannot come up with your own bildungsroman if you don’t know your real story.
One day my theater coach said to me, “Hey, Ted, what’s the real story?” I thought this was a story about perseverance. He kept on asking, “What’s the real story?”
That’s when I delved deeper and said, “The story is about this guy who felt he wasn’t good enough, and he has to search for meaning and purpose. All along the way, he gets distracted. The money doesn’t work. Then, he thinks it’s status, and he goes for partner. Upon getting the news, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Is this all there is to my life?’”
7. Talk About The Search
When I asked that question, I turned around that day, handed in my resignation letter, and never looked back. But I also needed a game plan.
So, I moved to California to become an entrepreneur. I started two businesses, but two years later, I found myself sitting on my couch. My hands were in my face. I couldn’t watch my $200,000 Mercedes getting towed out of the driveway. I was in my million-dollar condo, but I just had my third foreclosure notice. What the hell am I going to do with my life? I wondered.
What’s happening here is I talk about my search, finding the solution to my dilemma. A story needs it because one doesn’t go from the Pit to the breakthrough all of a sudden.
The search also keeps the audience going. Some of the audience think that status and power are the answers because that’s where they are in their consciousness. Then, they have a shift. They say, “Well, maybe what I’m really going after is not the thing.”
I take people on this search, and wherever they are, I meet them there.
8. Share The Inner Breakthrough
I spent my last few hundred dollars on a program. When I watched the video, it took me back to when I was six years old.
I’m sitting there on the living room couch. My dad walks into the living room, and now I see the truth. I see what my dad really said that day.
It’s not that he didn’t love me. I realized in that moment that my parents have always loved me. There’s nothing I needed to do. I don’t need to work hard to get love, I don’t need to drink to feel good about myself.
In that instant, I fell down on my knees. It’s like a million pounds of unworthiness just fell off my shoulders. I started crying.
That was the moment that it just came through me that I want to help people. I want to make a difference in the world and coach people. I want to speak and inspire more people to transform their lives.
It pushed me to start the transformation with myself.
I created the blueprint I had been using in New York Life for years to sell insurance products. I just took my life lessons from my story. From the blueprint, I created my programs. I started my one-man theater show. I created a lifestyle-friendly business that’s also helping others achieve the same.
This whole inner transformation is the breakthrough. Then, from the inner transformation, there was the reality of action.
9. Discuss Your Outer Breakthrough
Speaking my truth and sharing my story gave me the ultimate freedom. pic.twitter.com/MMoBqpwc13
— Ted McGrath (@ted_mcgrath) October 23, 2017
My life story matters, and because I understand that, I am ready to teach my life lessons to others and create a system that’s going to help them thrive. The blueprint becomes the system and the program and the coaching curriculum. From it, I had my first client and earned $3,000.
If you notice, I didn’t make millions right away. It begins with the inner transformation that compels action, which drives the first result.
Most of my audience think they need to get their first client right away even if they still haven’t reached any inner transformation. What happens is they find themselves trapped in a system they would have a hard time getting out of.
10. Build More On Your Credibility
After sharing your story, what happens? It makes your program and your expertise not only relatable but also credible?
I take advantage of that by boosting it some more. I talked about my achievements like being a best-selling author, earning $200,000 per client, building a multimillion-dollar business, and traveling the world.
Dynamics also helped boost my credibility. I share my personal growth: being in a relationship and having a better relationship with my family members. My parents come to my seminars. My brothers and my cousins come to my seminars or my shows.
I’m more connected in groups. My desire to make an impact to mankind has changed. I’m working with celebrities now. I’m working on social causes.
Giving people dynamics is important for them to have their own bildungsroman. You want to let them see they can achieve something deeper, more personal, and more essential with your programs.
Are you ready to create your own bildungsroman with a personal story? I understand sharing a part of yourself can be intimidating. But remember, it’s only when you allow yourself to be vulnerable that you can truly connect with your audience. Once you do, you can build your credibility and start making sales.
How do you intend to build your bildungsroman? Share your game plan in the comments below.