Narrative Challenge: The 1 Page Auto-Biography

Telling our personal stories or narratives to others is important.  Our lives matter and we each have wisdom to share. However, when we tell someone our stories, we have an agenda (good/bad/meh) which informs how we tell them and what details we include, what we emphasize and what we glide past. We want our audience to understand us, empathize, support us, etc. and so we tell our story a certain way, the way that best expresses us and gets our goals met.  Because of this we get mostly reinforcement for our narrative and some percentage of reaction or kickback.  You know, the “Yes I did/No you didn’t” arguments kick in but in the end those reinforce the narrative as well.

So it is rare that we get completely unbiased feedback, opinions or insights on our narrative.  The people who were there know us and have their own perspective and agendas, those who weren’t are responding to our story telling as much as the actual story and either empathizing or reacting.  This challenge allows for unbiased and transformative insights which can help us write a new chapter of our personal story.


Step 1 – You have one 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper with normal margins (most programs will set them for you automatically) and you may use an 11 pt type font.  On this one sheet of paper you will write your autobiography.

Yep, your entire life distilled down to one piece of paper!  It’s like distilling a thought down into a tweet.  It requires you to be amazingly concise, cutting away anything extraneous.  Think it can’t be done? Adult graduate students do it every year. I did it to enter my Master’s program at age 37 and the resulting conversation I had with the professor handling admissions changed my life profoundly. The more life you’ve led, the more concise you have to be, the more revelations are in store.

Step 2 – Once you have it written, ask someone who doesn’t really know you to read it.  A pastor, a friend of a friend, a friend’s significant other, an acquaintance at work, a teacher, etc will work.  You don’t have to tell them that it’s yours. Just have them read it and then give you feedback, not on the writing style, but the content. You’ll be amazed at the insights!

Step 3 – Realize there is much more to you than the story you’ve been telling yourself all this time.  Start telling yourself a new story. 🙂