Carl Davis Johnson IV
In 4th grade, at the wise age of 10, my family moved from a tiny town in Tennessee to just a small town in Tennessee. We moved in the middle of the year, it was a cold day in northeast Tennessee as I walked in to Mrs. Martin's class. There was one desk open. The teacher quickly introduced me to the class, showed me to the empty desk and moved on with the day. My first interaction with my classmates was a terse "That was my extra desk, I used to keep my books there."
I quickly learned that my story was not welcome. I wasn't bullied and I'm grateful.
I wasn't seen. I didn't have a voice. I learned from the stories I heard about me, that I was "new" and not part of the community. That I didn't have a shared experience to draw on and therefore no stories to tell, I needed stories to level set my connection with my "new" friends. I learned early the value of how to tell your story.
It was a hard year. That moment was my first defining moment. The story I told myself, the story that was told about me, both impacted the next 4 years of my life.
In 8th grade I made a commitment to myself to change my story. I had watched my "new" friends over the past 3 years and I identified the behaviors, actions and stories that the "cool" group used to identify themselves.
I used that knowledge to change my story, to define the narrative about myself and the groups I moved in.
It was the last day of 8th grade, I was 14 years old and I was sitting in my alphabetical seating assignment across from the most popular girl in school. Behind her sat my nemisis. The kid who had played up on every insecurity I had publicly and consistently. He and I were engaged in a battle of wit and words when he retorted "Carl, you think you're so cool..." And then it happened, the cool 8th grade girl turned her head and said simply and powerfully "Carl is cool."
It would become my second defining moment. That moment still tells you a lot about who I am and what I value. Connection, community, camaraderie are critical to who I am. "Cool" I have learned is a state of mind tied to confidence in your story.
I have spent the last 25 years of my life working with college kids as they go from who they are, to who they are becoming. It was given me great training to see the patterns that create a great story.
I am a professional who believes that telling your story authentically, passionately and consistently is the foundation for connection. I teach individuals and businesses to recognize, tell and celebrate their story. Stories bind people together and free them to act.
How can we help you craft and tell your story better?